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My Dog & I: Who’s Your Trainer?

I am a Dog Trainer. There are a lot of dog trainers for hire these days. Dog Training is a pretty popular career to get into at the moment and many folks with dogs, old, new and in-between are now considering hiring one of us to help with their four legged friends.

It’s great that so many people are interested in working with domestic dogs but in your search for the right trainer for you, it is important to have a little information about exactly what kind of help you need…

Like doctors, there are many different types of dog trainers and it is helpful to be able to know what you are looking for and how ask for help.

Do you have a puppy under 4 months old? If so, then you probably need help with some ideas about crate training, mouthing, jumping, beginning leash work and social skills. Any reputable trainer should be able to guide you through these early “training” skills and should also be able to offer advice on exercise, isolation and feeding.

Do you have a rambunctious lab puppy who has no leash skills and leaps on everyone. You should look for a trainer who knows how to set fair and firm parameters and has a comprehensive knowledge of all tools available…Beware “purely positive” trainers at this stage…you should be looking for some rules as well as food rewards.

Do you have a shy, introverted rescue dog? You will need a trainer who has some experience with behavioral rehab and again, someone with a broad spectrum of methods at their disposal. A trainer with several years of “field work” under their belt will be able to refer to past clients and draw on those experiences to offer you help.

Do you think you would like to have a service or therapy dog? There is a huge interest these days in these type of dogs. Be prepared. The truly qualified service /therapy dogs take YEARS to produce and ALL service dogs must first have solid obedience and social skills. Don’t skip the foundation work.

Do you have a dog with aggression issues? This problem is not for beginner dog trainers and needs a trainer with a combination of sensitivity, extensive field experience, a broad range of methodologies and a very confident presence and these guys are not everywhere! They are also not inexpensive.

Petsmart might be a great place to get some tips and tricks but institutions are bound by their insurance policies not to make waves and sometimes a little “tough love” is called for and we cannot always do that with a treat!

Try to make sure that your dog professional has qualifications and references that you can check. A good trainer will ask YOU lots of questions. At least five years working for a reputable company, trainer or even better, in the field. Your Trainer should be able to explain and identify the methods and tools he/she is using and offer alternatives. He will not back down when he/she believes he is on the right track.

Do you have a dog that needs free exercise but will not return to his owner when called? You probably need a trainer who is skilled in training with the ecollar. Be Careful! This is not for beginners and can do a great deal of harm if not taught in a professional, empathetic manner.

A committed trainer will often work with you, financially if money is an issue and will offer payment plans and sometimes even scholarships. A good trainer is interested in the welfare of your dog but also keeps the big picture in mind and attempts to bring all the players together.

Do not be fooled with flashy advertising or dramatic stories. Pay attention to the energy the trainer offers.

A good trainer will be direct about what is involved and will not tell you they can turn your bouncy terrier puppy into an older Golden Retriever in two weeks.

A reputable school or apprenticeship in his/her background should be featured on the resume and last but not least, insurance!!!

It is a privilege to be allowed to influence another living creature’s behavior and the relationship between your “trainer”, your family and your dog should be respectful and aware. Looking forward to a whole new year of exciting dog adventures and new dog friends!!!!

– Janine Lazarus. HashtagWV #121. January 2020. Follow Janine @goodladddogtraining on facebook.

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