Meet The TrainerMay 30, 2021 2021-06-14 11:19
About Me – Albuquerque Dog Trainer
I am Steffi Trott, the dog trainer at SpiritDog Training (and hopeless dog enthusiast!). I am an energizer bunny who loves everything related to animals, the outdoors and – of course – training.
I did not actually plan on becoming a dog trainer for most of my life. Unlike many dog trainers, I never thought “I will become a dog trainer one day.” It happened slowly with the help of my amazing companions, the Border Collies Fusion and Kix.
Here is the story of how I became a full-time dog trainer, even though the cards were not stacked in that favor originally!
I grew up in Germany, where living in an apartment made the dream of owning a dog just that – a sweet, but unachievable, dream. I always loved animals and participated in competitive horse riding, as well as trying to push my mom to allow me more and more small pets. They ranged from gold fish over hamsters to guinea pigs, but dogs were definitely not going to happen.
Most of my classmates and friends also were not allowed to have any cats or dogs, but something in the back of my mind kept wishing for a dog. Curiously, as I never actually experienced owning and caring for one, I was still obsessed with the thought of owning a dog one day.
In 2005, when I was 16 years old, I participated in an exchange student program and spent a year in Tasmania, a small island south of the mainland of Australia. My family there had all the pets I ever wished for. We owned chickens, a cat and a dog!
The dog, “Hugger”, soon became my close friend and I loved to take him on long walks along the river in the morning. I wished I knew how to train him, but I had no idea how. In my mind I envisioned myself spending hours and hours on the lush meadows next to the water teaching him every dog trick out there.
But – I did not know how!
This was before the age of the internet and any access to dog training information whatsoever. After the year I left Hugger with his family, and not a single trick learned.
I returned to Germany in 2006 and finished high school two years later. It was time to decide on a job or career then. I chose to study physics, less out of actual interest than because it seemed like a smart thing to do – good job security, many different industries to pick from. If I had known back then that becoming a dog trainer was an actual career option, I would have picked it in a heartbeat! But this was not even “on my radar” back then.
Finally, Dogs 🙂
Life brought me to Albuquerque, NM, in 2012. For the first time in my life (other than the year in Australia) I lived in a spacious house with a yard. Time to (finally) get a dog!
I went to the shelter and wanted to adopt a Border Collie. The breed seemed to combine everything I was looking for: endless enthusiasm for working with me, a will to please and a lot of energy and interest to do whatever I wanted!
I was denied to adopt a Border Collie due to my first time dog ownership. I left the shelter with ten year old Maxwell.
Maxwell was the perfect first dog. Calm, easy-going, loving all people and being friendly with all dogs. I could not wait to finally get started in teaching him a hundreds of behaviors and enrolled him in some training.
We went through a basic obedience class in which excelled, mostly due to his immunity towards any distractions. He did not care about anyone around – other dogs, other people, smells, sights or sounds did not bother him. The other students were envious of how easy my dog was to handle, and I was envious of how enthusiastic and energetic their dogs were. While Max was ready to enjoy retirement, I was ready for endless training and playing (I guess I am a bit of a human Border Collie!).
A year after having Max, Fusion joined our family. He finally was the one who wanted to train as much as I wanted to work with him. He learned five tricks, ten tricks, twenty, thirty…he learned to count and to imitate.
I was soon asked by a local trainer if I would like to come and teach at her facility. Of course! I wanted nothing more than that. The idea of passing on to others what I loved doing most seemed nearly too good to be true.
Kix came to me a few years later. She taught me everything that Fusion had not taught me. Where Fusion was gentle, quiet and thoughtful she was bold, loud and would prefer doing to thinking. Like already Fusion did, she helped me to grow as a dog trainer more than any course ever could.
I started to teach more classes and have more private clients. Eventually I added online classes. One day it finally dawned on me: There was no reason I had to further pursue physics. I was able to do what I loved most full-time: Training dogs.
Whether I am working or not, I am always around dogs.
Every one of my days starts out with me training and walking my own, and no matter how many hours I work, it ends with training and walking my own. My three dogs (by now Party has joined us as well) are my best friends. For me they also are the smartest, cutest and most magnificent dogs on the planet.
I have often heard fellow dog trainers tell me that they tire of training their own dogs and tire of training puppies. I have yet to reach that point. I adore every dog I meet, and I will for sure adore yours. Training and being around dogs and their people is the greatest job I could imagine, and I enjoy every minute of it.