How our trainers stand out from the rest of the “pack”
There are almost 300 people who identify as “animal trainers” in Chicagoland. Only Los Angeles, Dallas, and Seattle employ more of our “breed.” So, we at PUPS appreciate that you have more choices than most when it comes to training services. Like our pawed “pupils,” these services come in all shapes and sizes. The quality of training varies considerably from business to business, and from trainer to trainer. Members of the PUPS Pet Club “family” have peace of mind. All of our trainers’ experience, ethics, and values are in line with the highest professional standards. No compromise.
Training the trainer
Our PUPS family distinguishes itself favorably from the rest in myriad ways. We know that credentials matter to parents who entrust their fur-babies to us. Our Founder and Trainer, Dan “Doggie Dan” Rubenstein, has a Master’s of Science degree and more than 20,000 hours of professional training experience to his credit.
To put this experience into perspective, Doggie Dan has an advanced certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers®. To achieve certification as a CBCC-KA® (Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed), at least 300 hours of focused experience must be acquired within three years. Certified canine behavioral consultants fulfill other rigorous requirements; a lengthy exam confirms candidates’ proficiency in the likes of applied behavioral analysis, dog health and development, and body language.
Our leadership sets the tone. For more than 20 years, Dan has committed himself to strengthening the human-dog bond, one pup and one parent at a time.
“It’s tough to pick up [canine] ‘language,’” Dan said. “But, once you do, it’s a beautiful thing that makes a great relationship with your dog possible.”
When you meet one of our PUPS trainers, know that he or she has completed a six-month intensive training and educational program with PUPS. Our trainers “graduate” from PUPS’ dog training apprenticeship program ready to help pet parents with the challenges they face.
“Before they get their hands on someone’s dog, they have completed hundreds of hours of training dogs – not only their own dogs, but other dogs that they train under the supervision of qualified trainers,” Dan said. “It’s no easy task for trainers to complete our program. Some candidates don’t graduate because we will not put a trainer in the field who is not ready, willing, and able to make a significant positive impact on the lives of pet parents and their dogs!”
The value of the PUPS dog training school is $25,000. After graduation, the newly-minted trainers embark on a career at PUPS Pet Club. PUPS invests heavily in ensuring that the skill level of our dog trainers is tops in the market overall. In addition to the initial investment in each dog training candidate, graduates must complete their CCPDT® certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. PUPS’ trainers are lifelong learners; we continue to invest in our dog training team with ongoing educational opportunities.
So, even the lowest tier of trainers are “Experienced.” After around two years, these experienced trainers earn their status as a “Senior Trainer.” And when you see references to private lessons with a “Master Trainer,” that dog whispering-guru has at least seven years of dedicated experience in canine behavioral consulting and training.
“At PUPS everyone on our training team speaks the same language, and everyone is taught the same methodology,” said Dan, who developed and “standardized” that training methodology. “Everyone is up-to-speed on the same advanced techniques, and is applying them properly.”
“Everything is cohesive, and everyone is on the same page,” Dan explained. “What is great about our team, too, is that if one trainer is having a difficult time trying to establish an appropriate intervention plan or training protocol, they have many other trainers that can help them.”
Other dog daycare and grooming companies may offer training as an “add-on” or “afterthought.” At PUPS, training is a core service. Our experts do not have to get permission from anyone else to do what is in the best interest of the pup and the parent. “Large pet companies tend to have their trainers focus on the ‘fluff stuff,’” Dan added. “That makes it very difficult to advance the dog’s or pet parent’s training and to achieve a level of high proficiency in both obedience and behavioral modification.”
In summary, Dan said, at some big-box retailers and other companies, trainers may be unqualified, poorly educated, or lack appropriate skills. “Worse yet, there are some very exceptional trainers in those organizations who cannot demonstrate their knowledge and skills, because they are prohibited by the company from doing so,” he said. “That doesn’t create a cohesive team and that is not in the best interests of the dog or the pet parent.”
Training the human
Pulling. Lunging. Jumping. All of these behaviors drive parents bark raving mad. These actions may occur when Fido is leashed, or when he sees bicyclists, other dogs, and children. Trouble behaviors may also surface when he hears sirens and passing trains. “To make matters worse, humans unknowingly reinforce the behaviors as well by trying to calm their dogs down as they would another human being,” Dan said. In addition, when you are angry or upset, levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase. Dogs mirror that stress. Their cortisol levels can increase due to your response to stressors. And, Dan noted, so-called “bad dogs” can be taught to be better. It’s “bad humans” that can make even “good dogs” go bad.
“Our dogs look at us like we are another dog,” Dan said. “And the best leaders in any pack no matter what species makes it up are assertive, calm, and confident.” Dan added, “If you think about it, your dog’s DNA is a 99% match with that of the grey wolf. In wolf packs, the alpha male and female don’t lead by asserting their physical dominance. Of course, they tend to be the strongest and the smartest of the pack. However, they lead the pack with an understanding among all of the members that they need to work together in order to survive and thrive. The modern-day domestic dog pack which includes their human can certainly learn from this. Being a great leader to your pup may not be about his or her survival, but it will determine whether or not you and your dog live together in harmony!”
Consider, too, how dogs communicate, which is also a far cry from human nature. “Dogs communicate mostly physically, through body language,” Dan said. “But we are 90% auditory or verbal and 10% physical or nonverbal. How do we reconcile that? You need people that are adept in the language of dogs to teach you the language.”
And, just as each one of us has some natural athletic ability, Dan assures us that we all have some natural dog-whispering ability, too.
“Michael Jordan was born with natural ability; he’s got the athletic build, strength, and speed,” Dan explained. “But even Michael Jordan, in order to become the Michael Jordan, the best of all time, had coaches that accelerated his ability. And Michael then allowed his own creativity to take over.”
“A good trainer,” Dan continued, “is like a good coach. Just like a coach taught Michael Jordan the mechanics of a foul shot, great dog trainers will break down the mechanics of dog training piece by piece.”
There is a great deal of physicality in dog training, the way that we “read” dogs is based on their physical responses.
In all, Dan breaks down three “pillars” of dog training that dictate a pup’s behavior responses:
PUPS trainers account for the above three pillars when modifying behavioral; for instance, Dan noted how a dog with a high degree of genetic susceptibility to guarding behaviors may “test” unfavorably at home with his or her food, bed, and family.
“Take him outside the home and into a quiet dog training center, and he may present differently,” he said. “It’s not the instincts, but the environment that is tempering the behavior.”
Likewise, Dan describes how different dogs respond differently to key variables that are adjusted during training and evaluation: distance, duration, and distraction. An uber-stimulated dog, for example, may not respond to a command at five feet, let alone 15 feet.
Partly for this reason, PUPS offers so many different training options suited to the pup and to the parent’s schedule and lifestyle – from private bootcamps in the home to intimate, group training in a class setting.
“I wish people could experience what an exceptionally-trained dog looks and feels like,” Dan said. “If you want a great trained dog, you have to dedicate your time and attention to training your dog. Practice it like a hobby that you want to be great at such as playing an instrument. What is so awesome about becoming great at dog training is that your best friend is right there by your side every step of the way, and he or she is getting just as much enjoyment out of it as you are. That’s certainly not the case if you are playing chopsticks for your piano teacher!”
Our trainers will help you go far beyond what you may have envisioned for your training goals; It takes the right people to coach you through the challenges that you will face during the course of your relationship with your dog. The PUPS training team is made up of qualified professionals who love what they do and are prepared to help you.