A dog trainer is one who trains DOGS. I am a dog trainer because I train my own dogs and other people’s dogs FOR THEM.
Using the term “dog trainer” to mean someone who teaches dog training classes or individual sessions professionally, actually does a disservice to many people who own dogs, especially if they are first time dog owners or novices in the dog world.
The reason is this:
Many people think that bringing a dog to dog training classes will train their dog. Even after the great amount of advancement in the training profession, some still think that a class is what trains your dog, or the person who teaches the class is training your dog while you are there.
The truth of the matter is that as a so-called “dog trainer” in a training class, one trains PEOPLE not dogs. You go to class to learn how to train your dog. Most of the time dogs struggle in class because there are too many distractions. Training is really done at home. The training classes are for people, to show how far they have come at home with the training. And the instructors of those classes are people trainers.
I have myself taken dozens of “dog training” classes. I have taught hundreds of them as well. Very rarely have I ever trained someone else’s dog in class, or my own in class for that matter. Occasionally I would use another person’s dog to demo a technique, but training was extremely minimal. Again, the real training was done at home.
I don’t know if there is anything that can be done to change the term for dog trainer. It should really be dog training instructor or dog training professional. I know that the change is needed and will help to clarify to the public what an instructor and a training class actually accomplishes. I also know that I will be changing my usage of the term dog trainer. If you train your dog, you are a dog trainer.