Updated: Jan 6
There are so many training options out there! As a pet parent, you may WANT to reach out and get help but then you pop online and are inundated with all the possibilities and paralysis sets in. Do you go to a group class, take a class online, read a book, sign up for private lessons? What is best for you and your dog? By the time things get so urgent that you need help YESTERDAY, you just grab the first option on the list and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this method rarely works out as you hope. Maybe you choose an in-person group class and your dog is so overwhelmed that you make no progress or, worse yet, you are asked not to return! How embarrassing is THAT?! Or, maybe you hire someone for private training and you end up using methods/tools require coordination you just don't have, make you feel uncomfortable, or don't address the reasons you called them for help. This and other unfortunate results happen more than they should. How do you avoid it?
Figure out what you need! "Dog Trainers" come in very different varieties with very different skills and specializations. Knowing what you need will help you navigate what can seem like the Wild Wild West!
Ask questions! Find out your potential trainer's approach to training and make sure it is compatible with yours. Do they have experience with similar cases; what training or certifications have they acquired? Even ask for references! If you are not comfortable with the answers, they are not the trainer for your family.
Think outside the box! So many people believe that dog training can only be done in person, whether that is at a class or in a private lesson. In fact, for many dogs, this type of training can be very stressful and result in much slower progress in the long run. One of the benefits of COVID has been that many trainers (including myself) have expanded their services to include remote work and are finding that it is benefiting all concerned and the dogs are thriving. If you are interested in finding out more about remote training through Dogpanions, click here.
Don't be afraid to voice your concerns with whomever you are working! You are the expert on YOUR dog. While progress may be slower than you wish, there should still be progress and you and your dog should be enjoying the process. If you don't let your trainer know that things are not working, they can't address it and make adjustments so that you achieve success. It goes without saying that if your trainer does not welcome your feedback, they may not be the trainer for you!
Now get out there and have some fun training your dog, with or without help, it can be a rewarding experience!