So you have a dog, maybe a new pup or a rescue, or maybe you have had your dog for a while and it is starting to show some different behaviour issues to what it used to. Issues that need addressing can range from your dog going to the bathroom indoors, jumping up at your visitors, pulling on the lead or more serious issues like separation anxiety, to other dog aggression. If you are having any of these issues or anything else that is impacting on you and your dog enjoying your lives together then you may need to look at getting in touch with a professional dog trainer.
Where to start
If you are having problems a dog trainer specialises in helping you find out what is causing the issues and then they will help you to work with your dog to overcome them. When you find the best trainer for you and your dog, make sure to tell them exactly what the issues are, no matter what they are your trainer will not think you are a bad dog owner, rather a good responsible one that needs help.
So where are you going to find a good reputable dog trainer? You can ask at your veterinary surgery they will probably be able to recommend a good trainer, this is where I found the behaviourist that helped with some issues I had with one of my rescue dogs which I will talk more about later. Or maybe contact a local rescue center. They may be able to recommend someone, or if you have a rescue dog the rescue you got it from will probably be able to help you.
Finding a dog training professional
These days there are so many people advertising their services as dog trainers, but how do you know that they really know what they are talking about? Trying to determine who is good and bad can be really overwhelming, when all you want to do is your best for your furry companion.
Here are some tips on what to look for when choosing the right person to help with your dog:
- Good reputations are important, so ask other people who have dogs if they have any recommendations, as mentioned before ask your vet, local rescues, if you have a particular breed maybe you can contact the breed clubs, trainers that are affiliated with organisations and clubs will generally be reputable.
- Find out what motivates the dog trainer, if they seem like they are in it to make money over the welfare of the animals then they should be avoided, any good trainer will never go into the profession expecting to be rich, but more for the passion of working with animals they love, and helping their families.
- Look into the trainers background, the internet makes it much easier to be able to do research, you need to be looking for how many years experience the trainer has, do they specialise in any specific areas that may benefit your dog, depending on the issues you are having. When I was looking for a behaviourist the one I found worked a lot with rescue dogs.
- When contacting a dog trainer make sure you ask plenty of questions, a good dog trainer will be happy to answer them all, maybe write down what you want to ask before you call them.
- Trainers that care about what they do will keep up to date with the latest training methods, and will attend regular courses and seminars, so you should ask what training they have had and how recent it was.
- Any reputable dog trainer will care first and foremost about a dog’s welfare, they should never use punishment or any harsh methods of training with your dog. Those methods are outdated and have been proven to have a detrimental effect on the dog.
My own experience with getting a dog trainer for my dog.
When I rescued my Alaskan Malamute 6 years ago, he was lovely and slightly withdrawn which was to be expected but he didn’t take too long to fit in with me and his now female companion and best friend Yuki.
At that time I was living above where I worked so could pop home throughout the day to check on them, I booked a week off to settle him in, and I remember the first day I was back at work I started to hear him pacing up and down the hallway above me, then the digging began, within a few days I no longer had a carpet in my hallway and the bottoms of the doors were scratched away and ruined.
I tried a few different things that I saw in books and on the internet but nothing was really working, and he was getting no better. My house was wrecked but that was not my concern, those things could be repaired, it was my dog. I was concerned that the stress he was experiencing was not good for his health and I didn’t want him to injure himself. I spoke to my vets and they recommended a behaviourist to me that worked a lot with rescue dogs. I looked him up online all seemed OK so gave him a call and explained my boy’s issues. He said he could help and we booked an appointment for him to come around.
He spent around an hour with us. We went for a walk first so my dog could get used to him then he came into the house, he could see the destruction and said my dog had separation anxiety. He advised me of some things to try, and to be honest I was skeptical but I put them into practice, the first day he calmed down after about half an hour and the second day I didn’t hear a peep from him, six years later I have never had any issues since. It was a miracle to me that it worked so quickly and I have passed the information on to help many other people with similar situations since then.
If I hadn’t contacted that behaviourist I’m not sure what life would have been like now for us, we would probably be living in a house with no doors and floors and we would be miserable, I would never of given up on my boy, but getting someone to help me sort out the issues he was suffering with, meant that within no time he was feeling safe and happy and living the life he deserved too.
Just remember to do your homework, when you choose a dog trainer. You would want to take your car to a reputable mechanic, so putting the same effort into finding the right trainer for your dog is so worth it, they are a part of the family after all.
General training tips
Of course no matter how good a trainer is you still need to put the time in yourself with your dog to see the results.
Always make any training session positive and a fun experience for both of you. Never start any form of training if you are not in a good mood or you don’t have enough time to spare.
Always praise your dog when they do something you want them to. Some dogs respond well to a kind word or quick pat, others like their favourite toy, most however love treats, so a good high reward treat will soon have them wanting to please.
Do not make training sessions too long, your dog may lose focus and then stop doing what you want them to, this will just cause frustration for you both, a few short sessions a day are much more beneficial than one long one.
Absolutely never punish your dog if they do not get it right, never shout, yank their collars or hit your dog, this will have an adverse effect and could end up causing more issues than you started with. Always keep it positive and enjoyable.
A bright future for you and your dog
A dog that has had some training will be a happier dog, and you will be happier too. Most basic commands can be taught quite easily, but sometimes if your dog has an issue and you are unsure of what to do, then that is when you find a good trainer. Investing in finding the one that’s right for your dog is well worth any time or money it takes, and then you will be able to live an enjoyable happy and stress free life together.