Hello everybody! Tuki here – sits on my bar and enjoys the sun. It’s starting to feel like summer! With the coming summer, I see many families coming to the Potter League to adopt a new family member. One of the things the staff tells when someone is interested in adopting a dog is the importance of training for a dog. I know most dogs are pretty smart – at least the dogs here tell me – but all dogs need some kind of training. Some dogs need basic obedience, and others have specific issues a trainer can help with, such as jumping and pulling on a leash, or more serious issues like separation anxiety or aggression.
One question new dog parents ask is, “There are so many dog trainers out there. How do I choose the right one? ‘ Well, here are some tips I heard from the Potter League staff.
First, you need to figure out what you and your dog need. If you need basic obedience most certified trainers can handle it, but if there are more serious issues like anxiety or aggression you should find someone who is experienced with behavior change. After you’ve decided what type of workout you need, there are a few other things to consider:
One-to-one or group lessons: Group lessons are often best suited for basic obedience, teaching manners, and general skills like responding to commands. Private training can be better when you are dealing with a specific problem or a more serious issue, such as aggression or fear.
Training Location: Most group classes take place in a community location like an animal shelter or training facility (like here in the Potter League!). You can also get training at your home.
Cost: As you would expect, private training courses tend to be more expensive, so you need to think about your budget when deciding which training option to use.
Time: How much time do you want to invest in training and how much time do you need to intensify the training? No training will go without reinforcement if the trainer is not there!
When you have answered these questions, you can start looking for the trainer. You can find trainers in all sorts of ways – referrals from a friend, search the internet, or your local animal shelter (tip, tip – the Potter League!). When you find a trainer that interests you, interview them to make sure you are familiar with their training methods. Some important questions to ask yourself are:
Do you mainly use reward-based training? There are many good ways to exercise, but the use of violent, painful, or punishment-based methods is never acceptable.
What certifications do you have and do you take part in regular training courses? There are many different types of training and certification available for dog trainers, and good trainers have their own training and education and are regularly updated with their knowledge and skills. We recommend that trainers have credentials that include a certificate from professional dog trainers such as CPDT-KA, CCPDT, KPA or IAABC-ADT, which ensures they have passed rigorous exams to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices.
Can I watch you train? A competent trainer should always allow you to observe every training session with your dog. Most trainers, especially those doing group classes, will let you attend the training. After all, you are the one who needs to step up this workout at home.
Do you guarantee results? Even if we all wish that this question would be answered with “yes”, as is so often the case in life, there is no guarantee in dog training. Animal behavior is never fixed or static. It changes depending on the environment or circumstances. That would be an unlikely promise because even if behavior is changed, there is no guarantee it won’t come back.
What information will you need from my vet about my dog before we start training? Trainers should ask for information about your dog’s current vaccinations and any health issues that may affect training. This is especially important if you are participating in group training where your dog has contact with other dogs.
Once you’ve decided on your dog trainer, you should trust them and feel comfortable working with them. You should communicate regularly about your dog’s progress (after all, your kids get testimonials, don’t they ?!) and most importantly, remember, you’re getting trained too! You and your dog will learn skills that will make your life together even better.
Still not sure where to start? Right here in the Potter League (or on our website if you prefer), of course. Our resources encompass all types of training, including basic obedience, behavioral issues such as leash reactivity and agility, and we offer private behavioral consultations. We even have puppy play groups to help your dog get in touch with other dogs!
The Potter League also has behavioral resources that can be downloaded from our website and a behavioral helpline that can be used by phone or email for advice because, as the website says, “Sometimes a little advice can make all the difference . “
Until next time,
Your friend Tuki
Send questions to Tuki, PO Box 412, Newport, RI 02840, or email TukiTalk@PotterLeague.org. The Potter League for Animals can be found at 87 Oliphant Lane in Middletown and online at potterleague.org.