Choosing the right trainer for your dog is just as important as the food you feed them and the veterinary care they receive. A good trainer not only helps with your dog’s behavior, he or she builds a bond which can lead to a more successful relationship with your furry friend. While there are many different personalities and methods of trainers, we have some suggestions for when the time comes to choose a trainer.
Beware of trainers who reference “pack leader” or “alpha” behavior
The theory that dogs follow a wolf pack hierarchy is a common misconception among many dog owners and even among some old-school trainers. However, this notion is actually incorrect and has long been dismissed by trainers, veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists and modern behavior science. While it is important to give your dog strong leadership, this must be done non-violently and without domination, regardless of the breed or behavior.
Avoid punishment-based trainers
Not only are punishment-training methods such as leash jerks, hitting, nudging, or using electric shock collars cruel, they also do not solve behavior issues in the long run and can actually make your dog’s behavior worse. You want your dog to follow you because they want to, not because they are scared of you. Dogs are naturally opportunistic animals, and positive reinforcement training capitalizes on that by using treats, toys and attention to reward correct behaviors and teach new ones.
Choose a trainer who includes you in the training process
Training is not only a way to correct or prevent undesirable behaviors, it is also a time to socialize and bond with your dog. In essence, you want your training experience to be positive and fun for everyone involved. A good trainer will want to hear your dog’s history from you to fully understand factors behind their behaviors. It is also important to remember that you are your dog’s primary trainer over the long haul, and it will be up to you to carry out what you have learned to make your dog’s improved behaviors stick and move them from the training session to your home.
The bottom line is to not only choose a trainer who promotes positive and reward-based training methods, but most importantly one that is right for you and for your dog’s personality. If you have any questions or would like recommendations for local trainers, we would be happy to talk to you; contact our office at 701-757-3500.