Positive and Creative Dog Training Tips
Should You Hire a Professional Dog Trainer?
First, I love the Internet. I love social media groups, Facebook groups, friends, family, neighbors, vet techs, and the woman you stood behind at the pet store. Second, I love that people are spending so much time with their dogs, consider them family, and are looking for ways to improve their lives. Third, I really appreciate dog parents looking for second opinions and being their dogs’ advocate when it comes to their care. Fourth, I love writing dog-behavior and positive dog-training articles on my blog and for other pet magazines.
I truly love all these things. However, there are times when you should consider seeking professional help for your dog. I’m often a bit flabbergasted when I come across a social media question from a pet parent asking, “What should I do X” rather than that person seeking one-on-one assistance from a professional. Some of these posts are downright scary, such as a toe hanging off. Seriously, hit the pet emergency clinic!
Some of these inquires may not feel quite as obvious. Personally, if I think the cause of something is medical, has a pretty emotional behavioral component, or if the situation is a risk to other pets or people, it calls for customized assistance from a professional in the field.
I’ve heard people say that we professionals only want to make money and not provide free advice. Hmmmm If that’s the case for some, I actually don’t find it a problem. I mean, why should we feel bad or guilty to charge for our services? We paid our dues both emotionally and financially. I wouldn’t expect a chiropractor to provide me with a free adjustment.
However, I would venture to guess that a lot of us do offer free information to non-clients. I personally provide a blog with currently over 500 free articles and two video channels (YouTube & Vimeo) with I don’t know how many free pet videos. I also speak for free at a variety of pet events and even work with a select few animal rescues behind the scenes on dog behavior and training.
There are certain dog behavior concerns that need to be dug into deeper than a quick email. Behavior, especially dogs with “issues,” is a very complex subject. For me, history-taking alone consists of over 100 behavioral and medical questions prior to even having my first session with a client. Then, the sessions are typically about 2-3 hours. No, quick tips or quick emails are appropriate.
Today, I wanted to address dog behavior and dog training in particular and give my two cents on when I think it’s time to seek a professional dog trainer and not the Internet for advice or your friend next door.
6 Dog Behaviors That May Need Professional Guidance
- Your Dog is Injuring Himself, Other Dogs, or People-If your dog is currently injuring himself or others, it’s time to seek help, immediately.
- Growling, Snapping, or Biting at Human or Furry Family Members-If your dog is showing any of these behaviors, there is something going on that needs to be addressed. The root cause may be behavioral, medical, or a combination of both.
- Noise Phobia- Noise phobias such as fear of thunderstorms, fireworks, gunfire, or other loud or random noises can be very severe and devastating. It sometimes is easy for dog parents to brush this phobia aside if it’s random or doesn’t happen often. However, this is a phobia that has a high rate of increasing fear and injury. Often dogs will injure themselves trying to escape, not to mention the damage they can cause trying to “dig out” from the noise.
- Baby on The Way-I personally think if a family is expecting their first child, seeking at least one private session with a dog trainer can lead to a lifetime of success. If the expecting family has a dog with some behavioral concerns, seeking help as soon as you receive your news is key. Behavioral issues take a lot of time to change, and calling on a professional a month prior to your due date may not even be enough notice to get an appointment, let alone change a behavior.
- Lunging or Barking at The End of the Leash- I’m not talking about just not having good walking skills, although that’s also a great time to see a dog trainer, but lunging at the end of the leash at other dogs, people, bikes, cars, etc. Lunging or barking at something is much different than just having poor leash skills. There is some kind of emotional attachment to this behavior, and a good trainer will help you determine your dog’s issues, possible reasons, and how to set up a good training program to change your dog’s behavior and to decide if your dog is currently safe out in public.
- When You Aren’t Seeing Dog Training Results-Let’s face it. A professional dog trainer hopefully, has more skill and knowledge than a dog parent. After all, they are spending their time and energy learning about dogs, dog behavior, dog training, and practicing their skills on a regular basis with a variety of dogs and dog parents. Sometimes it only takes a few sessions to get you and your dog on the right track for success.
Seeking a professional dog trainer does not mean you failed your dog, nor does it mean you have a bad dog. It just means you realize you and your dog can benefit from additional knowledge and guidance from someone who spends their nights and days focusing on dog training and behavior. Even if you hired a dog trainer in the past, and you felt dissatisfied, doesn’t mean the right dog training coach isn’t out there. Sometimes, it may take a second opinion or a second set of eyes to get you and your dog back on track. Don’t put off training your dog and getting the help you both need. Connecting with the right person can change your relationship with your dog forever.
Have you hired a dog trainer? Tell me in the comments.
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