A friend, who is working his way toward becoming a full-time, professional dog trainer, recently read Nicole Wilde's One on One and was so impressed that he emailed the author with praise. He let me borrow his copy, and I can understand why he found this "Dog Trainer's Guide to Private Training" so helpful.
This friend has trained his own dogs to competition level, worked with animal shelter dogs, and begun class instruction. To my knowledge, he has not done private, in-home training, so the book contained a wealth of new and relevant information for him.
The seasoned dog trainer is not the target audience and may find that the book covers familiar territory. As someone who has been doing privates for many years, I thought that the book was well conceived, presented, and easily read in one sitting. It appears ideal for its intended purpose of helping the reader to grasp some of the specific skills and practical concerns of private training.
I am often approached by people who want to learn to become trainers or who think that they are ready to hang a shingle, and this book is the kind of reading that would be most valuable to that crowd. Wilde opens by suggesting some tools for self-assessment. She then discusses a number of practical concerns from how to conduct oneself professionally, to how to close a telephone sale, to suggesting specific information-gathering questions.
Again, an experienced trainer may find no surprises here and may not be in full agreement with the specifics of Wilde's methodology or philosophy, but the book is nonetheless hard to fault. It's not a textbook and isn't really intended to cover all bases. Written in a very comfortable, conversational tone, the emphasis is on offering practical, palatable information, and that is the greatest strength.
Based on this book, I would read more of Wilde's writing. She is well-organized, clear, amusing, and pragmatic. I have no doubt that she is good at what she does, given her emphasis on people skills, problem-solving, and the sense of humor evident in this text. She has an amusing fixation of dog's names that I found particularly entertaining.
This book won't teach someone how to become a dog trainer; that's not the goal. Nor will it cover every aspect of private training in detail, and again, that is not the intention. Rather, it offers good suggestions on self-evaluation, interpersonal and telephone skills, closing sales, safety, and general professionalism and protocol. Books and websites are referenced throughout, and while the author's philosophical leanings are clear, they would not feel oppressive to a reader with a different frame of reference. She includes sample liability waivers, sensibly suggesting that the reader enlist an attorney's assistance before actually using them. She also includes a few brief handouts on topics like crate training and leadership.
This breezy, 200-page book is excellent reading for the novice and would make a thoughtful gift idea for the aspiring dog trainer.
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