KD Mathews was petrified of dogs as a child. So naturally, he grew up to be a dog trainer.
Well, not exactly. Mathews has a different approach when it comes to helping his clients.
He trains dogs' humans.
A lifelong animal enthusiast and self-declared “nerd,” Mathews said his fear of dogs, which stemmed from an encounter in early childhood, fueled his interest in learning about them. At age 15, he got his first dog.
But it wasn’t long before he understood how ill-equipped he was to handle dog ownership, despite all of the research on training he had done, Mathews said.
“When my parents had enough poop in the house, destroyed furniture, walls, and incessant barking, I was left with a painful option that many people today are faced with, and I put my dog up for adoption, “ Mathews said. “Both my dog and I were very lucky though, and I found a professional hunting dog trainer who took my dog and myself in for training.”
That’s when Mathews decided to become a professional trainer himself, he said.
“I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that people did not have to go through what I went through when faced with the possibility of having to part with a beloved family member. From that day my focus was on understanding dog behavior and training.”
But after years of training dogs, then giving them back to their owners only to have issues arise again, Mathews had a revelation.
At that point he realized his energy would be best spent working with dog owners instead of their dogs, Mathews said.
"Dog training is not something I was a natural at," Mathews said. “So many dog trainers are people who were naturals. That makes them amazing at working with the dogs themselves, but it is missing a very important element in the equation.”
It is the humans who need the training and education, Mathews said. “I always ask people, “Are you a dog? Then why would you hire a dog trainer?’”
It took a lot of research and practice to get the dog training part right, Mathews said, but training people is something that comes naturally for him.
“And because of my first dog experience, I can fully empathize with the frustration and heartache that can come from owning a dog and not having the necessary tools or information to be able to fully enjoy it,” Mathews said.
Training is customized to fit the client’s needs, Mathews said.
“Everybody is different, with different personalities, motivations, as well as quirks and hang-ups, “ Mathews said. “While there are some general concepts that are universal, much of what takes place in the teaching and training is tailored to the needs of the individual.”
His friends in the dog training industry joke that he’s trying to put them out of business, he said. But while that’s not his intention, he’s happy to make the pool of potential clients for them smaller.
“I know I have done my job when a client has no future need to hire a dog trainer,” Mathews said.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit http://www.kdmathews.com.
Coming Soon: KD Mathews' blog on Lutz Patch!