Many people consider me ( Edward Denny ) to be a ”Professional Trainer ”, and while I have prepared hundreds of dogs for high level Protection, for Law Enforcement, to be well behaved and obedient, and for Search and Rescue, I have never considered myself to be a ” Trainer ”. This because I have never met a European German Shepherd that wasn’t more intelligent than I, thus functioning at a higher level mentally than I do. While I consider myself to be of average human intelligence, we are talking about an extremely intelligent mammal here, with natural, raw intelligence and instincts way beyond that of most humans. Therefor I have learned more from each dog that I ever trained, than what they ever learned from me. I was only their Coach or mentor, and I gave them much more Parenting than training. There are many keys to being an effective dog Coach, mentor, trainer, parent, or what ever title one uses for a dog mentoring person. Keep in mind that while some of this could apply to many breeds of dogs, this website and article is about Authentic European German Shepherd Dogs. For a person to be a Mentor for these dogs, he or should must first know that European German Shepherds are all individuals, so unlike other breeds where stereotypical, blanket considerations and approaches can be made, that won’t work here. Like a School Teacher with 30 ” Individuals ” in the classroom, if a trainer has 30 European German Shepherds to train, then they have 30 individual students. So any good trainer knows this and will take a different approach with each dog. Also a dog has to be a candidate for the duties that it is to be trained for, thus possessing the natural instincts, drives and interest to excel in, and carry out the duties. So real trainers know all of this. They also know that dogs must be trained individually and never in a group. That training also consist of much quality one on one time together, lots of play, tons of patience, and consistency with verbal and physical praise for the good, and consistency with verbal and on rare occasion, physical reprimand for the negative behavior. Real trainers never, and I repeat NEVER use electronic devices such as shock / E-collars for dogs. Real Trainers NEVER use food and treats as training aids. Real Trainers NEVER conduct or advise puppy classes or formal puppy training. They also know the difference between training and parenting. Training consist of Protection, scent detection, tracking, and disability dog training. Everything else- obedience and manners, that must be done by YOU, the dog Parent. This because training a dog is very much about voice tone, body language, and overall rapport between the student and the Trainer. With a human child you would send he or she to a ” Trainer ” to learn woodcarving or to learn to play the Violin. However for manners, right and wrong, do’s and dont’s, you would be the ” Trainer ” for your Child. The same applies with dogs and puppies. Basic obedience and manners must be done by you.
In the United States there are no requirements to become a dog trainer. The so called training schools are not being governed or regulated by anybody, so with a fee, ALL students pass. Actually, various dog training certificates can be acquired on-line for a small fee. You want to be a dog Trainer ? Get a certificate on-line, have some business cards made, maybe even a website and you are in business !! Dog training in America, is a major scam. Of course there are some good Trainers in the U.S., but very few.
Over the past 47 years I have crossed paths with hundreds of people who called themselves Trainers. Some of these were real trainers , but most weren’t. However because I am a researcher, and a student of this breed and the exploitation that surrounds it, I have interviewed each and every trainer that I have came into contact with. They may have thought that we were just chatting, but they were being interviewed regarding their background, experience, and training education. I would then document their training methods and approaches, literally making notes in my notebook. This has included hundreds of ” Trainers ” from around the World and in such settings ranging from puppy classes to high level Police and Military Training. My conclusions on ” Trainers ” may surprise you, because it sure surprised the heck out of me !! First, the absolute worst, most incompetent so called Trainers are the ones who have went to ” Dog Training Colleges ”, ” Dog Training schools ” and” Dog behavior colleges and schools ”. Also my research has shown that those who call themselves a ” Master Trainer ”…… this has always been a guarantee of an incompetent person. The term ” Master Trainer ” is not to be confused with Regiment Master K9 Trainer, which is a Military Trainer, as these people are very competent. I am referring to Civilian , public trainers that call themselves ” Master Trainers ”,
So after some years, it became apparent to me as to why graduates from ” Training schools and colleges ” were the least effective. and highly incompetent. People who go to school to learn dog training, are doing so because they want to make a living with it. So while their intentions may have started as good, a fact is that effective , appropriate, ethical dog training just does NOT correlate with making MONEY. This because as mentioned above, true effective training that results in a mentally and emotionally healthy dog, that can truly accomplish the task that they have been trained for, this dog did not begin training until 18-24 months of age. Now remember that training consist of Protection, scent detection, tracking, and disability dog training, all else is PARENTING, and must be done by the owner/ parent. The 18-24 month old must be trained as an individual and NOT in a group. Much time and patience must be devoted to this dog. Electronic devises such as Shock/ E-collars are never used on dogs by real trainers. So unfortunately, with the person in which training dogs is their means of making the house and car payment and buying groceries, they take dogs as young as they can get them, they train for obedience and manners rather than telling the owner to do it, they train dogs in group settings, they use food and treats as rewards, and they use shock collars. All of this because it is the quick and easy way, and brings more money. These approaches produce very few truly trained dogs, and result in many dogs being traumatized, and mentally / emotionally damaged. Other red flags for inappropriate, greedy trainers is so called trainers who are also breeders. In most cases its OK for a dedicated, qualified German Shepherd person to assume both roles. However it is the person who is both, but they accept dogs to train that did not come from their breeding kennel. This creates a conflict, as such people are in fact training in groups, and they will NEVER allow an outside dog to perform above the dogs that they sold, so that poor dog and its owner become victims of undeserved criticizing statements. The so called trainer gets as much money as they can from that owner, until they have done enough verbal bashing so as to convince that owner to purchase another dog from their- the trainers kennel. This is why I ( VZH ) never trained dogs that we didn’t place. Even though I have always known that my character would allow me to remain above such greed and peril, I just simply never placed myself in that position. Additionally, the good qualified Breeders and Trainers are overwhelmed with request to train the dogs that they sold/ placed, and therefor don’t need to take on outside dogs.
Another red flag for unqualified , greedy trainers are those who” Train ” multiple breeds. True dog Trainers are specialist for specific breeds. So a qualified German Shepherd Trainer may also train Belgian Malinois because the two breeds are very similar dogs, and some may also take on a Labrador Retriever for scent / bomb detection. However true qualified Trainers of Authentic German Shepherd Dogs will NEVER train ANY other breed other than those mentioned above.
During these years of research, I have found that the best , most qualified and competent dog Trainers were and are people who actually had other careers and just took up the cause from interest, and having been involved with these dogs for many years. So the best Dog Trainers that I have met have came from various backgrounds, they have been Engineers, Physicians, School Teachers, housewives, Real Estate Agents, Nurses, Police Officers , Military personal , and from various other backgrounds. However these people all had one major thing in common – training dogs was not their source of income, they were doing so purely from interest and passion. These people are also very patient, intelligent people, and they all truly loved these dogs.
Regarding so called Professional Trainers….. How can you recognize the difference between the REAL ones versus those who are just trying to get money ? Here is how ….. REAL Trainers NEVER use devises such as shock devices ( E-Collars ). They NEVER use food and treats with training. Then NEVER attempt to train a sub 18 month old for anything ( they will tell you to do it ). They will NEVER attempt to train ANY dog in a group setting around other dogs, as the student ( your dog ) will be too distracted because of their immature cognition. So we have just eliminated 99.9% of so called Trainers in America. Why do so called trainers use these devices and approaches?, because it is the quick and easy way!! Again, there are NO requirements to be a dog Trainer in America, and there is NO Governing Body that is regulating dog Training in the United States !!
If you acquire a quality dog or puppy from a REAL, QUALIfIED Breeder, then your dog or puppy will be custom matched to you, and your Breeder will be your resource for ALL Training questions and issues.