What type of dog trainer am I? That’s easy. A lousy one.

But beyond me, it seems that dog trainers fall into roughly four camps: the Disciplinarian, the Whisperer, the High School Coach, and the Softie. (Please note: this informal survey was far from scientific and might be more riddled with holes than wool sweater at a caterpillar farm.)


The Disciplinarian:** More often than not the Disciplinarian worships at the altar of the late James Lamb Free, author of the classic (though a touch outdated) Training Your Retriever. The Disciplinarian believes a gun dog belongs in an outdoor kennel, and should come out only to train or hunt. My oldest brother falls into this camp, and he trains nice gun dogs.

The Whisperer: The finest Whisperer I’ve ever seen train is the great Ray Cacchio. The Whisperer has a second sense about dogs. He knows what they’re thinking, and he often “whispers” them through a problem before it happens. There’s hardly any voice-raising–just a constant connection (often through eyes and hands) that keeps the dog in control. Sure, the Whisperer occasionally has to resort to some discipline, but he keeps it in reserve.
The High School Coach:** The best amateur trainers often fit into the Coach category. They walk the middle ground between Disciplinarian and Whisperer, often exerting a level of authority that lets the dog know who is boss while also enjoying nights with the pup at the feet of their easy chair. They truly are a team bound by a bond built of time spent together, good and bad.
The Softie:** The Softie likes to think he can get away with whispering, but it doesn’t work because he lacks the necessary talent. More often than not, the dog just walks all over the Softie…in the house, in the blind, and around town. If you’ve seen a Softie once you’ll never forget it.

Have any other types of trainers to add to the discussion? What type are you?