10 Things Dog Trainers Don't Want You To Know
Finding the right person to help you when you are having trouble with your pet can be overwhelming! Life is already stressful, adding a dog that doesn't listen to the mix can drive a person (or a whole family) crazy! So how do you chose the right person to help you, how do you know how much to pay and if it's actually going to work or not? Consider these 10 things before deciding who to bring into your home:
1. "Prices will vary" or not listing prices at all can be a huge red flag.
A confident trainer with a lot of experience will have set prices for different training options. The 'level of difficulty' of the dog should not impact the value of the training. Needing more time to implement a more complex training program is different than charging more for a difficult dog. Typically altering costs can be a sign of inexperience. A trainer that lists their prices clearly on their website usually indicates that they are confident in their worth and their abilities and will not feel the need to 'talk a client into' using their services.
2. What different philosophies mean: Pure Positive Training vs Balanced Training
Trainers that believe in Pure Positive training utilize only reward based communication with your pet. When it does the right thing, you reward the good behavior, when it does the wrong thing, you ignore it. Balanced training rewards the good behavior and also supports giving a response to bad behavior. This can mean something as simple as a leash correction, saying the word "No" or utilizing more complex training tools. Both can work depending on the issues at hand, but typically the fastest results come from balanced training and being able to literally balance the pet’s understanding of good vs. bad behavior. Make sure you are clear on the philosophy of the dog trainer you are thinking about using before you start. Don't be afraid to ask questions! Sometimes how a question is answered can teach you more about someone than the answers themselves.
3. There is a reason a good dog trainer will want to do an evaluation in your home.
A lot about a dog's behavior is influenced by their environment. Getting a sense of what daily life looks like, and seeing how children and other family members interact in the actual space is a crucial piece of your dog's training. Seeing the issues you are dealing with first hand gives a good trainer insight to subtle behavioral issues that may be hard to communicate over the phone.
4. Certifications don't always mean what you think they mean.
It takes different requirements to earn different certifications. Some are a simple application, some you need so much experience and letters of recommendation, some require certain training methods to be utilized. The piece that can be lacking for a lot of dog trainers is versatility in their training education and background. Trainers tend to subscribe to a certain school of thought or training philosophy, and learn how to address the symptoms based on someone else's method. Hiring someone that has a broad scope of training experience and can offer multiple solutions to behavioral issues may prove more valuable than multiple certifications. The proof is in the pudding, so they say!
5. Board and Train programs are set up like boarding school programs for troubled kids.
Taking a dog out of their element has pros and cons. When there are a lot of different issues to address, or there are some major behavioral modifications that need to be made, doing a total reboot can work wonders. It's a "your parents may not have made you do this, but you're in my house now, and these are the rules buddy" type of mentality to quickly implement consistency, accountability and a different type of communication to get the quickest results. A good trainer will start seeing dramatic results with in a few days of having the dog with them. The rest of the first week is typically making sure they understand what you are asking of them, the second week is the consistency of backing it up so that every time 'x' happens, 'y' always follows. You can kick and scream and throw a fit, but it's happening anyway! It takes the heavy lifting off of the client until the take-home session happens. Then it's up to you to maintain the rules set in place and enforced by the trainer.
6. Sometimes having the whole family involved in the training sessions makes it more difficult.
It's important the whole family has the same set of rules, and treats the dog the same way, however, when learning the why's and how's of dog training, having kids running around or having to stop to attend to family dynamics can be distracting and disrupt the dog's understand of what is trying to be accomplished. Sometimes (but not always) it is easier and better to teach one family member and have them teach the rest of the family in between the sessions in their own time.
7. A trainer not being able to explain WHY things need to be done as instructed should be a red flag.
There is a psychology to what dog trainers do. If you have a dog that is being a bully, not allowing them on the furniture can play a crucial role in curbing that bad behavior. A good trainer should be able to explain why it makes a difference. Having a solid understanding of why what you are being asked to do works will be the difference in having the dog you have always dreamed of or continuing to have problems.
8. Good dog trainers don't want continued business from the same client
Referrals? Absolutely. Continued training? Heck no! A good dog trainer should be able to set you up with an solid understand of how your dog's brain works so that you are able to problem solve on your own after the training is done. It's less about what is done to change the behavior and more about understanding how to maintain the mindset of a healthy communication with your dog for long term success. Being called upon for tips and reminders is always appreciated, but needing to continue with multiple training packages can be an indication that something is being missed or misunderstood.
9. All good trainers think about you and your pets long after the sessions are over.
A good dog trainer will be curious how it's going. If you are struggling to maintain a new way of life with your dog or if things fell into place. Reaching back out because you need more help, or need revisions to a long term plan are encouraged and a professional will not judge you for it. There should be an understanding that it takes time to adapt to new ways of doing things and some recommendations don't fit into daily life as easily as others. Never be embarrassed to call your trainer a month or two down the line and fill them in on how it's going. Good dog training maintenance is like healthy eating versus a diet. There are going to be be ups and downs, but seeing it as a lifestyle change is important to long term success.
10. Go with your gut.
This is why it is so important to do an evaluation, not just for the trainer, but for YOU, the client, as well. Ask as many questions as you'd like. More than their style of training, see if their style of communicating is something that you think will work for you. A good personality fit is just as important between the people as it is for the dog. Ask yourself if this is someone that you feel confident about and comfortable around to set yourself and your family up for the best experience possible as well as a life long resource for all things training related.
For more information, tips or questions please visit our website at www.theanimaldept.training or email Andrea at Andrea@theanimaldept.com