Dog Trainer or Dog Coach or both?

Sunday April 9th 2023


This article has been written by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.

One of the things I’ve been chatting about lately is am I a Dog Trainer or a Dog Trainer/Coach. Well, it’s actually both. Let me explain.

For those of you who have trained with me, its likely we’ve worked through either a Reactive Dog Package, or a Walk & Train Package. During those packages there will have been a strong element of Dog Training. In other words, I’ll have shown and demonstrated exercises and taught you how to do them. This will have made a big difference for you and your dog and you will have the pleasure of walking your dog again, out and about, having a great time enjoying the beautiful country we live in (albeit often wet and cold! Was it Billy Conolly who said “there’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s just the wrong clothes”?).

So, we will have done Dog Training together, either or both Training your Dog and Training you to train your Dog.

So, what is Training and what is Coaching?

The Oxford Dictionary defines training as “the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behaviour”. And synonyms for teaching include ‘instructing’ and ‘tutoring’. In other words, it’s about show and tell, in my opinion

Coaching is a bit different. Teaching is for ensuring new things are learnt. Coaching is about improving performance.

So, with most of my clients, we move on from Dog Training to Dog Coaching. We move from Training Sessions where you are shown what to do, to Training Sessions where we are live, on the road, in the park, out and about, with me at your side, Coaching you, giving you confidence to put the Training into practice, giving you the confidence to do the right things with your dog for both of your happiness and enjoyment.

Should I rename my profession in terms of what | do. Probably not as most people probably don’t know what a Dog Coach is, but if you are working with me right now, then we’re either out together Training and / or we’re out together Coaching.

The Reactive Dog Package I offer moves very quickly from Training to Coaching and then there’s more to do after that for all round training, but that’s for another article. If we’re on Walk & Train Package its likely I’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you – in other words I’ll do a lot of the training for you, and its also likely at some point we’ll move on to the Coaching bit so you can have that awesome Dog you’ve dreamed of

See, I believe all Dog Trainers should be Dog Coaches. Because that’s what really makes a difference in the long term.

That’s what gives you the confidence that you’re putting your training practice into real life. The internet courses will help with you training, group classes will help you with training, most one to one Training Sessions will help you with training. But I love it when I’m out Coaching, once the Training is in place, because that’s where we make biggest difference together.

That’s what gives me the greatest sense of achievement in what I do. That’s what gets me up in the Morning thinking I have the best job in the world. No one could offer me any amount of money to do anything else. If I won the Lottery tomorrow, I truly believe I would still do this. Its what I live for.

Nick McMechan is a Dog Trainer who owns Esk Valley Dog Training, based in Dalkeith and covering Midlothian, some of South Edinburgh and some of East Lothian. Nick’s Clients describe him as friendly, knowledgeable and reliable.

Nick specialises in Loose Leash Walking and Reactivity as well as everything you would expect from a great Dog Trainer. You can find out more here:

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