How to Choose a Dog Training Program

It can be absolutely mind boggling to pick the right dog training for you and your dog. There are so many different methods, programs and training schools. How do you possibly decide? How do you make sure you don’t end up with the wrong one? What if it doesn’t work, or what if something goes wrong?smart dog

Do your own research and make a decision based on what is consistent with your own ideology of how you want to do the training. Just because your friend went somewhere, doesn’t mean it will work for you if the choice doesn’t match your needs. Here are some points we recommend you consider:

1.    Find a trainer who promotes rewards based training.
2.    Avoid confrontational or correction based training.
3.    The training program should include the family members and consider all of the people and all the other pets in the household.

There are multiple directions you can head when looking at training options. Here are four paths we are going to outline:

•    Train yourself based on books, videos and anecdotal rumors
•    Go to a group class and learn with other owners and their dogs
•    Have a series of private lessons in your home or at a trainer’s location
•    Have someone else actually train your dog

Train Your Dog Yourself

Most dogs never actually go to formal or professional training. We have bred dogs to be a part of families and for the most part they settle into your family routine without much bother. Dogs are resilient and adaptable, and with reasonable guidance, they are able to learn what is expected of them.

Group Classes

Group classes work great for you to come and learn how to train your own dog with other people. Group training can be hard on dogs that don’t do well around distractions. Classes are run at various levels, from puppies to advanced and even competition level training. There are specialty fun and elective type classes that cover agility obstacles, searching by scenting, tricks and even movie dog training.

One-on-One Private Training

Individual lessons can be tailored to your dog’s and your household’s needs. The advantages are that you can begin with no distractions in a series that is totally personalized for you. Private lessons should start with an in depth background and history taking session. Then the trainer should actually demonstrate the lessons by teaching your dog the exercises, and coach you through the mechanics of the training so you can effectively practice on your own between training appointments.

Daily Training: at home, in day care or boarding

The fastest and most effective package is actually a combination of regular sessions with your family and a professional trainer working with your dog every day. This way you are completely integrated into the training program and your dog has the best chance to learn and create new consistent habits. A professional trainer will know exactly when to add new exercises and what level of distractions your dog needs to improve without regressing. This intensive type of training can be done in day care or in boarding.

The Training Methods you Choose are Important

Talk to trainers about their dog training methods and find a reward based trainer. Make sure your training plan includes teaching your dog how to do the behavior right, not stopping them from making mistakes. Training or behavior modification should be focused on determining and changing the underlying causes of the problematic behavior, not just removing the symptoms. Punishment and corrections will stop the behavior, but often have the most detrimental fallout. It’s unfortunate that many different methods actually do provide results. The tradeoff is that the seemingly most common and fastest results have worse side effects and are the hardest to maintain.

What is the final word?

A training program should be something you are comfortable with and fits with your household needs. Make sure you know what is expected of you and your dog and that the training falls within your budget, both financially and emotionally. It will only work if you follow through on it.

1 Comment
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