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Help! I’m a Dog Trainer, but I Don’t Have the “Perfect Dog”

In this article, the experts at dogbiz share tips for dog trainers who may feel insecure about not having the “perfect dog.”

Ask dogbiz

Q: Hi dogbiz,

Last year I became a certified dog trainer, and I’m now building my business. The problem is—my own dog still struggles with behavior challenges, and people seem to assume I should have the “perfect dog.” It often leaves me feeling unsure and like an imposter. I know I’m doing my best, but how can I overcome this insecurity?



A: Hi Emma,

First and foremost, congratulations on earning your certification as a dog trainer! It’s not uncommon for professionals in the field to face challenges with their own dogs—in fact, it’s why many become dog trainers in the first place. You’ll soon notice that the About pages of many dog training websites begin with this kind of origin story. So first up—know you’re not alone in feeling this pressure to have the “perfect dog.” Simply acknowledge that these feelings are real and try not to judge them. Recognizing and accepting your emotions is often the first step toward overcoming them.

Remember that your personal experiences with your dog don’t diminish your professional expertise. Dogs, like people, have individual personalities and challenges. It doesn’t make you any less of a skilled trainer if your own dog has specific issues. Dogs aren’t robots, after all, and they have complex emotional lives just like us. It can sometimes be helpful to reach out to fellow dog trainers or mentors who may have faced similar situations. Sharing experiences and seeking advice can provide valuable insights, and may even help you to address the behavior further.

Try to put your “trainer hat” on and view the situation as objectively as possible. We’re always our harshest critics, and the closer we are to the issue, the harder it often is. Just like with the clients we work with, our emotions and aspirations can cloud our view. Make sure you’re taking note of progress you have made and are continuing to make. Celebrate small victories, and remember that dog training is an ongoing process. Your experience will actually help you have a lot of empathy toward your clients.

And don’t forget your passion! Reflect on why you became a dog trainer in the first place. Reconnect with this as much as possible, and stay focused on your work to help dogs and their humans. This intrinsic motivation can serve as a powerful reminder of your capabilities and dedication to the industry. There is always room for growth and learning—this not only enhances your skills, but also boosts your confidence as you adapt to new challenges.

Be kind to yourself, and your dog. Imposter syndrome often stems from an overly critical self-perception. Recognize that everyone, including experienced trainers, faces challenges. Treat yourself with the same understanding and compassion you offer to your clients. If you’re having an off day, do something with your dog that you both love, even if that’s simply lying on the couch together.

The dogbiz Team


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