November 2019
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postheadericon Many people don’t have the patience, energy and/or time to dedicate to training their dog

Many people don’t have the patience, energy and/or time to dedicate to training their dog. There are not many other activities that require as much as all this, if the end result is to have a safe, well-adjusted dog and be a happy human. For those people, the answer is to hand the reins of training your dog over to the efforts of a professional trainer.

As in any other profession, price and quality will vary. And, like many professions – particularly those involving human-animal interactions – training philosophies differ considerably. So, you already have some constraints to guide your selection of a trainer for your dog.

Assess your budget and your needs. Depending on where you live, dog training can range anywhere from free – sometimes supplied on a weekly basis by volunteers at parks or shelters – to $100 or more per session. What determines a reasonable fee will differ depending on geography, trainer experience, length of program and the goals for your dog.

Take a look at your schedule. Training programs can be weekly while others are more often. Sometimes, you will be required to leave your dog and pick it up later or, more likely, you may prefer a program where the training involves you directly. Many will advise that you spend some time training the dog each and every day consistently, whether at home or at the trainer’s facility.

Think about your commitment. Dogs, especially at the beginning of training, require regular, large blocks of time and attention in order to learn. An hour a day is not all that unusual.

In certain cases, ‘boot camp’ training programs are preferred. The dog goes away to a special facility for a predetermined length of time usually up to several weeks. The training is consistent, long and rigorous. Don’t worry about your dog. They love the intense training! At the end of the training period, you will probably be required to participate in order to ‘transfer’ the obedience from trainer to you.

But the results can very often be amazing. Dogs, who ‘graduate’ even when not special service dogs, are disciplined and ready to follow instructions. Yet, the irony is, these dogs show no signs of being repressed. They’re happy and play with much enthusiasm.

Examine your goals. You may want a dog that can be entered in shows, or you may just want them not to chew on the furniture or dig up the yard. In either case, regular training is necessary. How much and what kind will vary with breed and individual temperament.

Some dogs are fearful, either through being mistreated formerly or from a natural tendency toward submission. Some are too assertive, again through abuse or natural striving for alpha (pack leader) status. Whatever type of training you select will be dependant on how you want to influence them and what attributes they have you want to shape.

Whatever your goals, budget or commitment you want a trainer who exhibits enormous patience and boundless energy, of course, along with a deep love for dogs. Most have these characteristics in spades and then some.

Other than these basics, you’ll want a trainer whose philosophy makes sense to you and consistent with your goals. Some insist that dog training is more about training the owner than the dog – and there’s some truth to that in some cases. Some are relaxed and friendly, leaning toward the ‘touchy-feely’ style. Others tend more toward police or military style training. And the others lie between these two extremes.

It’s doubtful that there is one training style that will suit everyone, but neither is it entirely subjective. Even where there are disputes there are common principles that most will agree on. Patience, persistence, consistency and the requirement for the human to lead are only some of these.

Request recommendations from those you trust and don’t hesitate to shop around. Don’t be afraid to change trainers once or twice to find one suitable for your needs. Be careful, though, not to change on a whim. Dogs need consistency and a regular environment in order to take in what’s being taught.

Good luck and good hunting for your dog trainer!

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