Good Dog!!!!Jul 20, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
Owning a dog is like having a child. The new addition you have added to your family needs many of the same things that your child does. Food, water, shelter, medical care, love and companionship. Often though, expectations for the new dog can be way off base. So many times I have seen someone get a dog, and expect it to magically behave like a cross between Lassie and Air Bud, with little or no effort on their part. Nothing could be further from reality.
Dogs need limits and rules. They must be told what is wrong, shown what is right, and have that correct behavior positively reinforced. A small amount of training, at the beginning, makes for a wonderful and rewarding relationship for years to come.
What To Look For In A Trainer
Recommendations - One of the first considerations should be the advice of people who have actually worked with the obedience trainer. Ask your breeder, pet shop personnel, vet, and most importantly, friends and acquaintances. It is important that your trainer be highly recommended by those who have a professional relationship with him, as well as those that have actually worked with him in the training of their dog.
Flexibility - Look for a trainer who is willing to be flexible in his training methods. Not every labrador retriever, poodle, or cocker spaniel is the same. Several years ago I interviewed a trainer who based his training methods on the breed. I knew immediately it wouldn't work. I have two labs. One is cool, calm and collected. One is a whirling dervish of hyperactivity. Putting a generic label on any breed is a big mistake, and would have set at least one of them up for failure.
Responsiveness - Every dog owner has a different set of expectations for their dog, a different lifestyle, and different styles of interaction. Make sure your obedience trainer is willing to listen to what you want, and work towards that.
Participation - All dog training needs to be a joint exercise between the dog, the trainer and the owner. Don't use a trainer who asks you to drop off your pet and then pick up the finished product. All training must include sessions which assess the owners style, and later teach the owner as well.
Compatibility - Make sure that both you and your dog like the trainer. If either or both of you really don't, the training is doomed from the beginning.
Get A Reality Check - Beware of ridiculous promises. I often see ads for trainers who promise a totally trained dog in the matter of a few lessons. This is totally unrealistic. Training takes time, patience and reinforcement. If they promise a miracle, beware.
Punishment - Training has to be a positive experience or it just won't work. It's about encouragement, not discouragement. Make sure that your trainer doesn't punish bad behavior, but instead reinforces good behavior.
Help, After The Fact - Make sure the trainer is willing to be available for help after the training has ended. The commands that seemed so easy in the trainer's presence can be much more difficult at home. It is important that the trainer be available for a period after training ends to help with any setbacks.
Specialty Training - If you want heart surgery, don't call a dentist. If specialized training is what you desire, go to a specialized trainer.
Costs - Meet with your trainer and go over the program and the costs before you begin. Have the information submitted to you in writing. This way you know what to expect, and he has a program to stick to.
Types of Training
Obedience - Puppy kindergarten, basic and advanced obedience.
Behavior modification - Housebreaking, fears, aggressive behavior, chewing, barking, etc.
Personal Protection - Guard dog training.
Hunting - Gun dogs and bird dogs.
Tricks - A variety of theatrical and non-theatrical tricks and skills.
These can be found in a group setting at a number of places, from your vet to the local community college. Each can also be found in the form of private lessons, either at the trainers facility or at your home. Costs vary widely, and should be another consideration in the type of training you chose.
It has been my experience that a combination of group and individual training lessons work best. The individual training allows one-on-one teaching which maximizes the learning experience. However, in order for a dog to be fully trained, he must have experience using his knowledge in groups where distractions are great.
For my latest canine addition, I chose a trainer who trained in my home. We met first for a one-our consultation to discuss my expectations, to allow her to evaluate myself and my dogs, and to lay out a mutually agreed upon schedule of lessons and costs.
She would come for an hour, twice a week, and work with the dog for a while, and then have me do the same. Each hour had an objective in mind, and if we didn't thoroughly finish the skill, we picked up where we left off at the next session. During the time between sessions, I was to work with the dog to enforce what we learned. The dog really liked her and responded quickly. I like her also and found it easy to follow her instructions. As we progressed, I found us to be right on target with the basic training that I had hired her for.
The only thing that marred my trainer relationship was that after a while, and shortly before we were finished, she disappeared. My one mistake was that I only had a recommendation from one person. Had I really asked around, I would have found out that although she is a fantastic trainer, she seems to take off for a few months every once in a while.
No matter how much you love your dog, and I do mine with all my heart, a dog who misbehaves makes what can be a great experience, one which is frustrating, negative, and often costly. If your dog isn't trained or trained properly, or if you've just bought a new puppy, make the appointment today. And hey, give em a hug for me!
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