A Day In The Life Of A Dog Trainer

Life with my dogs

A Day In The Life Of A Dog Trainer

What do I do all day long? The answer is dogs, a lot of dogs 🙂

When I first got a dog of my own, my family warned me that I would have a hard time aligning work with all the things I wanted to do for/with my dogs.

Border Collies are prone to being bored without ample options for physical and mental activity, so this was certainly a worry I had.

Luckily, I could make training my job, and so Fusion and Kix get to play a big role in my daily life, during both work and free-time. True to their breed, they seem to never tire of the tasks on hand for them, and they are the most gracious, enthusiastic co-workers I could wish for.

(Even though I don’t pay them anything beyond food and snuggles – they are always willing to put in extra hours and work overtime!)

Here is a look at what our day is like:

I wake up early, before or around sunrise. Thankfully, my own dogs sleep in a little longer, so I get to check emails and talk to my online students all over the planet.

(This has not always been that way – when Kix was a small puppy, she never slept. If she got up at 3:30am, she had slept in. I need to write a blog post that tells stories about her puppy time – it was insane. I believed before her that dogs will eventually sleep when they’re tired, she proved me very wrong. She also taught me to be grateful for a dog that now sleeps until 6:30am or even 7:00am!)

Some of those online students are in my group classes, many are private students. Since they are all around the globe,  it’s already afternoon for some of them, and they had time to train and send videos and questions.

I enjoy reviewing their training during those quiet morning hours, with coffee and (in the winter) in front of a fire. It is great to see them succeed at the exercises they have been struggling with, and I delight in figuring out solutions tailored to each individual dog – while I have never met them, I definitely know them well after a while!

When my own dogs get up a little later, we do some tricks for breakfast and go for a walk. Morning walks are wonderful – quiet and serene and a welcome cool time during our New Mexico summers.
Around 9am it is usually time to go and see local private clients. We might work on leash walking, household manners, anxiety issues, resource guarding, OCD behaviors, tricks – you name it.

I find it most rewarding to work with “harder” cases – the ones who do not have every issue resolved instantly, and where I have to dig deep and brainstorm to figure out exactly what drives the dog, and how we can transform and channel this into productive behaviors.

When I come back from that lesson, it’s time to get busy for my own dogs again.
We film videos for my online classes or Facebook/Youtube tutorials – there really is always something to be filmed.

Sometimes, this is done quickly – other times we are outside and the tripod falls over from the wind or we get sidetracked by some great trails we need to hike, and it will take a lot longer.

After we return home with the new movie material, I edit it while my dogs take a well-deserved nap after all that training. While I am at the computer, I chat more with my online students and answer any emails that might have arrived since morning.

In the afternoon it’s time for some group classes – agility, obedience and games. I love teaching all of them for different reasons – though my personal favorite is probably games. I don’t think I will ever stop enjoying watching owners play with their dogs.

Some of them I teach in our beautiful mountains, and for some I drive to Albuquerque.
Occasionally I give a local seminar, for which I take Kix or Fusion along to be a demo dog.

In the evening follows some more trick training for my own dogs, and an evening walk. They need to shake off the work of the day just like us, and I love to walk in the dark and quiet of the night. We hike far into our national forest, often for hours at a time.

I am always amazed at how well they are able to navigate in the dark – it can be pitch black and while I am unable to see anything, they tear around like crazy off-leash, chasing each other, running at full speed somehow absolutely aware of where the cacti, rocks and trees are.

Before bed, another check-in with online students – many of them already got up and had their morning training session.

Then we all curl up, tired but happy.

(Yes, my dogs sleep in my bed. No, I don’t think that makes them dominant. No, I don’t plan on changing that any time soon.

I start the day they come home – I cannot resist a little fluffy puppy in my arms at night, and then they just never leave the bed.)

I am not sure what my dogs dream off – but their barking and sleep-running looks like they are reliving all the adventures we had that day.

A couple times a year we take time off – sometimes a few days, sometimes a few weeks. Then it is time to hike, camp, climb mountains, play in the snow and swim in lakes. I will be honest – I enjoy the outdoors with my dogs more than any training session, no matter how successful. There is something deeply satisfying and primal in being with my four-legged friends in the middle of nowhere, taking in the beauty of the mountain around us and summiting them.

We sleep in tents or my car, walk all day long, play all day long, and simply enjoy each other’s company (well, I enjoy their company – I am sure they would rather the other one didn’t come and they could be the only dog…so I guess I enjoy their company, and they enjoy my company and wish the other one would disappear so they can be the only one).

Some time soon a little puppy will join us. When exactly, and who exactly I do not know yet – just that there is a canine job opening at SpiritDog Training that will be filled in the next year or two.
While I adore the Border Collies (and share their opinion that they are the most superior breed), I need a small dog who can come along easily to seminars on the plane. And of course that little dog needs to have a whole lot of crazy to keep up with us – so we will spend some more time searching for the perfect addition.

That was a day at SpiritDog Training! Who does yours look like?