“Train your dog this way”, “Don’t do it that way”, “When he does that; do this”, “Using this collar or training technique will solve your dog’s behavior problem”, “Always do this to train your dog”, “Never do this to train your dog”, etc. You have probably heard one or more of these well intended suggestions from strangers, friends, breeders, and even from dog training books, veterinarians, and dog trainers.
However, which one is correct and who do you listen to especially when many of them seem to contradict each other. It’s no wonder that pet owners are confused as to the most effective and humane way to train their dog. So how does one get the most out of their dog training sessions? Hiring a professional dog trainer will help you clarify your options so you can solve your dog training problems in an efficient and humane way.
Dog behavior consulting offers clients many benefits – from preventing dog behavior problems to modifying problem behaviors, behavior consultants help you achieve your dog training goals. Open communication is key to receiving the most benefit from your training sessions. This starts with the client expressing their expectations for their dog. The consultant then clarifies those goals and recommends the best behavior modification plan as well as the preferred format of training (in-home, board and train or group classes).
In addition to the presenting behavior problems, dog behavior consultants may address how to recognize stress relieving behaviors, how dogs learn best, effective ways to influence your dog to show good manners, communication and team building skills so members of the family are on the same page with each other as how to train your dog, child and dog safety tips, exercise frequency and type, healthy nutrition for your dog, among others.
Dog behavior coaching is a two way street, so here are five things you can do to make the most out of your sessions. They include:
1. Actively participate in the dialogue with your consultant. Clearly state the presenting problems and what occurred prior to the undesired behaviors, commonly referred to as “triggers”. Your consultant should be an active listener to ensure you felt heard and so effective training objectives and action steps can be developed. Be sure to ask any questions you may have – the only bad question is the one left unasked. Your participation in the ongoing dialogue ensures you receive the best benefit from the training sessions.
2. Be open to change. A dog behavior consultant may recommend new ideas as to how to perceive your dog’s behavior such as how the dog’s environment effects his/her behavior, how the behavior of family members positively or negatively effects your dog’s behavior and how to modify your dog’s behavior.
3. Stay focused. Prior to the session you may want to write down a list of questions or discussion topics to cover with your consultant during the session. This will help to keep the session focused and most beneficial to you and your dog.
4. Do your homework. Your consultant should give you homework to complete before the next session. The homework should be broken down into simple steps making learning fun and easy for your dog. At first, you may want to schedule specific training times with your dog so that other life events do not interfere with the time needed to work with your dog. As new good behaviors become habits for your dog, you can relax on having scheduled training times. Training is simply incorporated into every day normal life. Obtaining desired behavior then becomes simply a way of doing things consistently.
5. Implement your plan. You have taken a positive step in modifying your dog’s behavior by hiring a professional dog trainer. Implement the agreed upon goals, objectives and action steps. If something isn’t working, discuss this with your consultant so the plan can be adjusted. Your commitment to the training process is crucial in ensuring you receive the best return on your investment in your dog’s life altering behaviors.
A professional dog trainer is one whom is uniquely qualified and committed to helping you achieve your desired training goals. Together, an effective behavior modification plan will be developed and implemented.