As a trainer, I am well aware that my reputation is everything. We can spent hundreds each year on advertising but the one thing that will make us or break us is word-of-mouth. Free advertising is great, as long as you are good at what you do. I like to think that I am good at what I do. I can get most dogs to do my bidding…even the most stubborn ones. I have had my fair share of glares from clients who have struggled with a task, and for me to pick up the leash and the pup says “sure, what ever you want I will do”.
We have all been there. Yep, even the teachers had to be students at some point. But despite the evil eye I may receive once in a while, all my clients have left knowing I am only a phone call or email away. But more importantly, they leave with smiles on their faces and the start of a better relationship with their dog and a much better handle of how to deal with the little bumps in the road that is life with dogs.
I make no guarantees as you will only ever get out of them what you put into them. If you don’t practise, I will call you to task as you are paying me to help you with your dog. I don’t want to waste your time or mine. Reprimands are always respectful. Most clients roll their eyes and say “I know”. Lol!!
I want to maintain that connection I get with both my two and four legged students. I send out Christmas cards and give updates regularly. I let them know that I am here should they need me at any time for anything. That is my after-care service to each and every student I have.
My reputation precedes me and I hope it always shines me in a favourable light. As a trainer my reputation is everything. But what happens if someone is not saying nice word-of-mouth news? My first question would be is it true? If it is then I don’t see how you can either complain or deny it. All you can do is fix is as best you can and learn from it. None of us is perfect. Now sometimes you have disgruntled clients that maybe had unrealistic expectations, those people you really can’t help too much. You can try to appease but sometimes it doesn’t seem to cut it.
The real issue is those that maybe have an issue with your experience, popularity or in the amount of knowledge you have. The ones that come across as jealous and petty. Those are the ones that are what I classify as a real problem. They are the ones that tell outrageous stories with not a shred of proof or any facts to back them up. These are the folks that do the most damage.
So let me go one step further. In the dog show world I have seen more than one handler congratulate the winner, step out of the ring and cut the dog down, the judge, the handler and the breeder to anyone who will listen or in ear shot.
I am not going to go into the rights and wrongs of this behaviour but what I do want to address is the damage this causes. To hear this about someone, anyone is distressing. We are all involved with a particular breed or breeds because we love them and are passionate about maintaining the breed standard and true type. If we all had the same “type” then there would be no need for dog shows as we would all have the “best”. But why do some feel the need to put others down? So they can feel better about themselves? So they don’t have to take a long hard look at their own representation of the breed? Or is it simply green eyed jealousy?
I honestly don’t have any idea. Sure, we all feel disappointment that we didn’t get that coveted ribbon, but to the point of talking trash about someone? A potential client could have been behind you and looking to use that handler. Some snide comment may have stopped that person in their tracks. Or, a potential client was looking to use you as a handler, a comment like that may have turned them right off and gone elsewhere.
This behaviour has consequences. We are fighting against BSL and the A.R’s too keep them away from our pure bred dogs. Being bitchy at ringside or just talking trash about other enthusiasts is unprofessional and puts a bad spin on dog shows/handlers/breeders alike.
Let’s stop letting the few dictate the reputation of the many. I for one am tired of defending my having/breeding/training/advocating purebred dogs. When did the purebred dog become the enemy and the mix breed or mutt become the more acceptable of the two? Part of that lies with us and those that have helped destroy the reputation of the shows and the organizations that run them.
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