Training Should Be Fun For Your Dog!
Most owners are cautious when researching and hiring a dog trainer; they should be careful when selecting, as there are many different people out there that claim they are a trainer or claim they follow a specific training methodology. There are trainers that might have a certification that they will tout in front of veterinarians or to new clients. However, certification—while it can be a sign that this trainer completed a certain course—does not necessarily guarantee anything else. Being a certified dog trainer does not mean they are the best, or that they will follow a training philosophy that matches with your expectations…it could simply mean that they did an online course in a week’s time and then printed out a certificate and business cards afterward.
I am a certified dog trainer through Canine Trade Group, along with many others. My certification came from not just months of reading and studying, but also first-hand handling and experience through a carefully setup practicum. Many trainers will never handle a dog before they become certified, which is astounding. Canine Trade Group not only gave me hands-on experience with real-life owners and their troubled dogs, but I also learned many different approaches to combat ANY behavioral problem, using a reward-based training philosophy. I learned how to teach both dogs and people, so that the training process can remain consistent and positive, rather than sporadic and incessantly negative. In the end, a good trainer (certified or not, as there is no official trainer certification out there) will not only work with the dog, but they will also work with their owners so that they understand the training.
Dog training is not about being strict or removing positivity…dog training should be a positive experience for both dog and owner! It may be rough in the beginning as everyone is becoming acclimated to a new training and living structure, but with applied consistency and understanding, training should show dogs how to be successful and happy, not frightened or miserable.
It’s my goal as a trainer to not only help dogs and guide their owners, but to make the training a positive bonding experience between the two. Clearly, owners call me to help eliminate specific behavioral issues (i.e.: potty accidents, aggression, separation anxiety, destructive chewing, etc), and that is something we always work on. But how do I eliminate those behaviors? I don’t just yell at the dog and tell him how he messed up all the time. I need to show the dog that there are alternatives when it comes to their behaviors and in certain situations. I want that alternative to be rewarding and positive, so that dog is more likely to repeat the good behavior that leads to that reward. If all I’m doing is constantly punishing the dog, they won’t necessarily learn how to do right behavior…all they might learn is that they are being reprimanded all the time by their owner, and that could lead to more fear-based behavior, and less trust between owner and dog.
Training is about attacking the root of the inappropriate behaviors, but also setting them up for success. Training is about showing the joys of behavioral balance and a harmonious household, versus a constant sense of dread or stress in the home. It’s about helping the dog mentally develop through focus-building exercises, and become more responsive with their owners. I don’t want dogs behaving because they are terrified of their owners. Instead, I want them following through because they know their owners want what’s best for them. Dogs should feel trusting and comfortable with their owners, not scared. We want to maintain the love between dog and owner, and build reliability as well. It increases confidence in both dog and owner, which will lead to less anxiety in both parties’ lives.
So if you’re looking for a dog trainer, think about what you want out of dog training. Do you want your dog to listen only when you have a treat in your hand? Do you want your dog to be completely servile and stripped of their personality? Or would you rather have a dog that TRUSTS you and your command, and will be both obedient and happy? If you’re striving for behavioral balance, then look for a balanced dog trainer that wants to set your dog up for success, and give you as the owner the tools to communicate with your dog consistently. Dog training isn’t about breaking the dog’s spirit, it’s just about giving them better choices and showing them how those choices are better for them.
Big Friendly Dog Training takes pride in our reward-based dog training techniques, and our ability to teach both owners and dogs how to succeed through structure and positive reinforcement. If you have questions about our dog training, contact us at 800-649-7297.