Professional dog trainer Emilee Mahar recently went viral after posting a TikTok video asking pet owners to “do better.” She claims that the reason most dog owners specifically are having difficulty finding trainers and groomers is due to the simple fact that the animal industry is “drowning” and, as a result, are no longer accepting new clients. She says the main issue for this is the actions and attitudes of pet owners, who she argues are causing their pets to suffer and in turn, causing the professionals to suffer as well.
“There’s a really big issue going on in the animal industry right now and no one’s talking about it,” Mahar says at the beginning of her video. The issue in question is that pet owners are not properly caring for their animals, and are blaming the professionals for their pets’ problems versus taking responsibility. To illustrate her point, she begins by describing her own experiences as a dog trainer.
“My training facility is so unbelievably overwhelmed,” she says. “We are booked out for months for all of our services.”
To make an appointment with Mahar, a prospective client must first read through her website and complete a 50-question survey. They must then wait two months and pay a small fee to meet with her and learn whether or not she’ll accept them as a client. Though this might sound harsh, she says she’s instituted this system for a good reason.
“People will pay thousands of dollars to send their dog to a trainer, and they won’t follow through,” she explains. “We put our blood, sweat and tears into training people’s dogs, and they don’t follow through.”
If a pet owner doesn’t keep up with their dog’s training when they’re at home, a dog’s behavior may never improve. So, problems with listening, biting, aggression, etc. could potentially become long-term problems.
“Your dog is suffering,” Mahar says.
According to Mahar, pet owners who don’t listen to their trainers give a variety of reasons for not doing so. In talking to other dog trainers, she’s learned that people who disagree with a facility’s methods will sometimes call the trainers “animal abusers.” Some have gone so far as to call PETA to investigate. And when a pet’s behavior doesn’t get better with time, the owner will leave a one-star review, which can be damaging to a small business.
But, trainers aren’t the only professionals within the pet industry experiencing this problem. She goes on to share that a groomer in her area has not accepted new clients in three years.
“I know grooming facilities that are no longer accepting walk-ins because people are pissed that their Goldendoodle gets shaved when they’re the ones who don’t brush their dog,” she says.
Not properly grooming a dog can lead to painful, matted fur.
Poor reviews and angry clients cause professionals to suffer, Mahar says. And in her opinion, the only way to fix this problem is to create higher standards for pet owners.
“Just because you’re putting a roof over your dog’s head, and you’re feeding them and they have medical care does not mean that they are still not neglected.”
Newsweek reached out to Mahar for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
TikTokers were quick to praise Mahar for her comments.
“AMEN,” said one commenter named Sara. “I’ve been working in pet services for over 3 years and it’s mindblowing how little pet owners usually do and know.”
“YOU ARE RIGHT,” agreed another commenter. “People want decorations. Toys. They don’t want a living animal that requires hard work and comes with frustrations.”
07/26/21 The story has been updated to reflect that Mahar’s facility has not received poor reviews due to upset dog owners or heard from PETA; However, other facilities have.