If you’ve got a dog and you don’t have the energy, time or patience to train him yourself, you may want to hire a trainer. This is an activity that requires a lot of all three qualities, if you want to have a safe, happy, well-adjusted dog and be happy yourself, too.
When it comes to hiring a dog trainer, in general, the quality and cost will vary. Training philosophies, too, will also vary considerably between trainers, focused on human and animal interactions as they are. Therefore, utilize these parameters to narrow down your selection.
What’s your budget? It can depend on where you live, but in some cases, you may be able to get training services for free, often done weekly by volunteers in shelters or parks. Or, you may pay for pricier service, up to $100 or even more per training session. What’s a reasonable fee? That will vary, depending on the trainer’s experience, where you live, the length of the program itself and the goals you have for your dog.
Take a look at your schedule. Some training programs happen every week, others do so more often. You may have to leave your dog at the training facility and pick it up afterward, or you may opt to sign up for a program where the training involves you as well as your dog. Most training programs do suggest that you spend some time with your dog training him or her every day, either at the trainer facility or at home.
In some cases, you may want to consider so-called “boot camp” training programs. In that case, your dog will go away to a special facility for quite awhile, up to several weeks. The training the dog receives is intensive, happens over the training period of time, and it happens very regularly, too. However, don’t be concerned that this is too hard on dogs. Dogs love this type of treatment. Near the end of this type of training, you, too, will usually have to participate so that the dog’s obedience is “transferred” from the trainers to you.
The results of these programs are often amazing, though. For those dogs who graduate, even if they’re not involved in “special service” types of functions, they are actually eager to follow instructions, and are very disciplined besides. Paradoxically, though, these dogs show no signs of repression and in fact are usually very playful and happy.
Next, take a look at the goals for your obedience training. Do you want a dog that you can enter into shows, or do you just want a dog that won’t chase other pets or gnaw on your furniture? In addition, you’ll need to consider the breed and temperament of your dog to determine what type of and how much training is going to be needed.
Some dogs tend to be fearful, either because they’ve been mistreated or because they’re simply shy and submissive. Some dogs may be too assertive, again because they’ve been abused or just because it’s part of their personalities. The type of training you choose will be greatly influenced by the dog’s personality and temperament, your own situation, and the attributes you want to bring out or suppress.
Whatever the goals for your dog, and whatever your commitment and budget, you will want to hire a trainer who has infinite patience, energy, and a deep love for dogs. Most dog trainers have these characteristics very strongly.
Beyond the basics discussed, you’ll also want a trainer whose philosophy matches your own and makes sense to you, and who will respect and match your goals. Some trainers have a viewpoint that “dog” training is really about training the owner, not the dog, and there may be some truth to that a lot of the time. Some dog trainers are more permissive, friendly, lenient, and focus on emotionally “connecting” with your dog, while others are much more commanding and demand respect and obedience. Still others use a mix of these two schools of thought.
Your training style preferences will vary, but regardless, training style is not usually entirely subjective. Even if you have disagreements with your trainer, you’ll usually have some areas of agreement, too. Consistency, persistence and patience, as well as your need (as the pack leader) to lead are just a few of these commonly held principles.
When it comes to choosing your trainer, ask for recommendations from those you share similar values with and don’t be afraid to shop around. You may have to change trainers over the course of things in order to find one that meets your needs. However, be careful that you don’t change things without careful thought. Something dogs need most is consistency, as well as a steady environment so that they can learn well.
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