Dog training can be an unregulated and unlicensed industry. Believe it or not, everyone can claim to become a dog trainer or canine behaviorist. You decide to complete only a little digging and fetch the very best dog training school for your fur baby. Some tips about what professional dog trainers say you ought to look for—and what you should know about working out and your dog.
Best age to begin dog obedience training
Puppies are ready for dog obedience training between eight and 12 weeks old, says Nick Hof, a certified professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant at Paws Look Listen. “Age cutoff is important because of the developmental stages our puppies proceed through,” says Hof. Socialization is critical in this stage. Puppies need many positive experiences with people, other dogs, and environments to become happy and confident adults. Since puppies are very sensitive to experiences, look for small class sizes—ideally, one trainer per 4 to 6 dogs—and an experienced trainer.
Google reviews are a good beginning, but that’s no substitute for getting a deeper look at a facility and talking to prospective dog trainers. “Any trainer must be prepared to answer questions and be involved in an interview about their methodology,” says Metiva. Learn how long they’ve been training dogs, and ask how they respond when dogs don’t get something right and when they do. Metiva also says that trainers shouldn’t show a reluctance to utilize food in training. “Animals work for food,” she explains. “If they do not, they’re probably full/satisfied or overwhelmed/stressed/scared.”
Watch the trainer
Next, focus on how a trainer interacts with the pet parents and dogs. Turn heel and run if the trainer gets frustrated when a dog doesn’t “get it” and uses intimidation, harsh tones, a raised voice, force, fear, or pain, says Metiva. A trainer should never use a tool or hit your dog to prevent a behavior (unless there’s imminent danger). These methods are antiquated and have now been proven ineffective, Metiva explains. This may lead to the development of fears and phobias or redirect aggression or suppressed behavior with no change in the dog’s emotional response.
Observe the canine students
To see what happens throughout a class, ask the working out facility (or the trainer, when they do independent dog obedience training) when you can observe a session. While watching, look for clues in the torso language of the dogs, says Metiva. “Are they lose and wiggly, mindful of the trainer? Or are they stiff and tentative?” Dogs who’re licking their lips, yawning, or have a slinking or low body posture, pinned-back ears, or perhaps a worried expression are exhibiting sure signs of stress.
Verify the trainer’s credentials
“There are many schools of training and certifications available, but that’s still not a guarantee that the trainer abides by their code of ethics,” says Metiva. Seek your dog trainer who is kind and whose focus is developing a trusting relationship with your dog. When you have that combo, you’re far more prone to get the results you want.