Michaela as a Student-Trainer

Manny, a German shorthaired pointer

My story into dog training began when my husband and I adopted an adult German Shorthaired Pointer from a local shelter who turned out to be highly dog-aggressive. Although this was not my first dog, I had never experienced this problem before, and had no clue how to help him get over this issue. So I contacted Rick and started training. My dog progressed pretty quickly, and I became increasingly interested in all aspects of dog training. Rick noticed that I showed some talent handling my own dog, so he suggested I might do well in dog trainer school.

After considering the options – attending a school where I would be one of many students in big classes, or studying one-on-one with Rick and his clients – I concluded that I would benefit more from direct instruction from Rick, and signed up for a year of schooling.

Teaching my own dog had been easy enough, but as I quickly found out when I was put in front of the first client dog, getting other people’s dogs to work for me was quite the challenge. Eventually, I learned how to build relationships with all kinds of dog personalities, how to read their behavior, how to come up with a method that works best for the particular dog and owner, and how to progress each handler and dog team to reach their full potential.

Rick taught me a solid foundation in dog psychology and behavior, marker training, correct usage of the tools of the trade, and how to tailor the training to any kind of dog, from basic obedience to almost any behavioral issue. Since I was his only student, we were able to individualize the curriculum by allocating more time to work on my weaknesses, and less time on my strengths.

Because I learned how to implement a variety of tools, I can be confident that I will always have another method up my sleeve if the first one should not give me the desired results. Since we did all of our training outdoors instead of a sterile training room, I will be able to offer my future clients real-world training that will teach them to successfully navigate life with their dog. One of the biggest joys throughout my time at Focus Dog Training has been to see our clients go through the same breakthrough moments that I experienced with my own dog.

Not only did I complete lots of hands-on training with the dogs, but I also got to experience the day-to-day work of effectively running a profitable business, and learned how to deal with different client personalities on the other end of the leash. Especially in regards to these two skill sets – business and client relationships – I doubt that one of the bigger dog trainer schools would have offered as much value.

Michaela Frank, student trainer at Focus Dog Training 2015/16