In our ongoing series of PPG member profiles, BARKS features Aaron Jones of AJ’s Waggin’ Train in Katy, Texas
Aaron is a member of PPG’s Inclusivity Division and Shelter and Rescue Division, and he also serves on PPG’s Advocacy Panel.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you first got into animal behavior and training, and what you are doing now?
A: I am a graduate of the Animal Behavior College where I earned my credential as a Certified Dog Trainer.
I have had a love and special bond with dogs since I was a little boy. But even more so, events later in my life confirmed my calling. I worked as a veterinary technician for more than 12 years. Although I enjoyed my role dearly, there was something missing. The medical side of care just did not feel like the place where I was supposed to be. In 2015, one of my beagles passed away. I was left with only one dog, and my home felt incomplete. I had always wanted to volunteer raising puppies to become service dogs, so I started researching nonprofit organizations. I soon found one located in southern Florida. Their business ethics and reputation stood out among others I was considering. I attended my first meeting and was hooked. Training dogs is what makes me feel complete. It’s my calling.
In 2020, I started my business, AJ’s Waggin’ Train. In addition to training my clients and their dogs, I also volunteer my training services to numerous local shelters and rescues. I feel that helping shelters and rescues with training their dogs will not only help the dogs get adopted and placed into their forever homes, but also enable me to educate new dog parents and equip them with ethical and humane training techniques to create a lifelong bond that they and the dogs deserve. In doing this, my hope is to help decrease the number of dogs surrendered by their owners and placed into shelters and rescues due to behavior problems.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your own pets.
A: I previously owned two beagles (Henry and Misty), who lived to the ages of 16 and 14, respectively. Currently, I am the proud dog dad of my 4-year-old Goldador, Ace. He was a puppy that I had raised for the guide dog organization that I volunteer with. Back at the guide dog campus, it was determined that he could not complete his formal guide dog training due to reactivity to other dogs. I was given the opportunity to adopt him and responded with an immediate “yes.”
Q: What do you consider to be your area of expertise?
A: Reactivity in dogs.
Q: Why did you become a dog trainer?
A: I love working with dogs, and the majority of dogs in shelters are owner surrenders due to behavior issues. I’ve been blessed with the ability to train dogs and also educate pet parents about ethical and humane training techniques in hopes of bringing those numbers down.
Q: Are you a crossover trainer or have you always been a force-free trainer?
A: I have always been a force-free, R+ trainer.
Q: What drives you to be a force-free professional, and why is it important to you?
A: Studies and data show that force-free, R+ training is the most effective and humane way of training. Also, dogs don’t have a voice, so I must be their voice while respectfully educating people worldwide about force-free, R+ training.
Q: What awards or competition placements have you and your dog(s) achieved using force-free methods?
A: I haven’t sought awards for using force-free methods. For me, seeing dogs and their owners achieve an unbreakable bond and life full of happiness and laughter while learning the techniques of force-free training is the best award I could ever ask for.
Q: Who has most influenced your career and how?
A: Dogs have been and will always be my biggest influence. Seeing them go from unhappy dogs who lack confidence to happy, cheerful and confident dogs that display enormous smiles is my biggest influence.
Q: How has PPG helped you to become a more complete trainer?
A: The continued education, panels, committees and comradery available to members through PPG has helped me to become the more complete and more competent trainer that I am, and I know that I will continue to improve through my involvement with PPG.
Q: What are some of your favorite positive-reinforcement techniques for the most commonly encountered client-dog problems?
A: (1) Positive interrupter, (2) look at that, (3) look at me
Q: What is the reward you get out of a day’s training with people and their dogs?
A: Seeing a pet parent breathe a sigh of relief because they’ve seen that there is hope for them and their dog, as well as seeing the smile and confidence a dog gains during a training session.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: Being able to interact with dogs.
Q: What is the funniest or craziest situation you have been in with a pet and their owner?
A: I was stuck in an elevator in a high-rise apartment with an owner and their puppy, who had to go potty really badly. The elevator stopped moving and the puppy started to go poop, so I quickly opened up a poop bag and placed it under the puppy’s butt to catch the poop, hoping to keep the elevator floor clean and the smell as minimal as possible.
Q: What advice would you give to a new trainer starting out?
A: Keep an open mind, listen and learn. Take what you’ve learned and tailor it in ways that will make you successful and unique.
AJ’s Waggin’ Train is located in Katy, Texas.
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