Be Careful of Guarantees

be careful of guarantees

By: Melissa Kolmar, CPDT-KA, SBA

Many potential clients ask me if we offer a guarantee or how many sessions it will take to “fix” their dog. Here are my answers:
1. No
2. It depends…and can we change verbiage?

No, I can not and will not offer a guarantee. I can not guarantee another living being’s behavior. I can make an educated prediction, but I can not guarantee. Dogs are not robots. When we talk about dogs in terms of guarantees, we are reducing them to property…as if they were a broken sink or a car leaking oil. Our dogs are living, emotional beings who are learning all the time.

How many sessions will it take to “fix” a dog? First, we don’t “fix” dogs. Again, they aren’t a broken piece of property. We can teach them and help them feel more comfortable and confident (through training and management). How many sessions will that take? It depends on a lot of variables. The learning history of the dog, the type and rate of reinforcement given, the consistency of the dog’s people in management and training and keeping the dog from going over threshold (meaning maintaining appropriate space from something that excites or scares your dog).
Be careful of a trainer who offers you a guarantee. It is more important to find a trainer who is experienced, personable, and uses positive, gentle methods. This will be better than a “quick fix.”

“If you cooperate with the trainer and put in the time and effort to practice with your dog in a kind, consistent manner, not only will new skills be learned and behavior problems solved, but you will also be strengthening the bond between you. And that’s a guarantee.” -Nicole Wilde