Whether you are an avid do-it-yourself trainer for your dog, or you haven’t even tried teaching the basics of “sit”, you should consider working with a dog trainer at least once in your puppy-parenthood! It may not be something you have considered or felt was necessary for your dog’s growth, but there are tons of benefits, from supercharging your dog’s training to gaining a deeper understanding of your unique dog’s psychology. I believe that every dog owner should try working with a professional dog trainer at least once in their life- it is an experience that can totally change the way that you think about and work with your canine buddy!
Why would you want to hire a trainer?
You may not have ever even considered the idea of working with a dog trainer. Chances are, though, that if you’re reading this blog you have thought about what it means to teach your dog new tricks! While you can try teaching your dog any new trick pretty much for free, I would honestly say that the small investment you put into a trainer pays itself off tenfold, and the results you get can even change your dog’s (and your own!) life. At first this might sound a little exaggerated, but without further ado, let me tell you why this is so important!
1. An online tutorial is no replacement for a professional.
This DIY world we live in can be great, but sometimes we need someone’s help.
In the most general sense, working with a dog trainer can help you get better results faster, and with far less stress. While working with your dog is amazing and awesome, and a great way to bond, throwing some professional dog training into the mix will make a world of a difference! They can give you new insights that you won’t find online in your average how-to-make-your-dog-perfect video. They may even tell you about new skills your dog can learn that you never knew about. They can streamline your training process, and work with your dog one-on-one to really give your pup a boost in their new tricks.
2. They teach you the right way to teach your dog
A dog trainer may give you some “homework” to do with your dog- and that’s great! Not only is it amazing to have personalized training instructions specific to both your dog and your situations, it also helps keep you accountable when it comes to working with your dog’s behavior and teaching it new skills.
3. They notice the things that you don’t
While you can watch all the YouTube training tutorials you want for free, there is no replacement for personalized help. It can be easy to do something wrong without knowing it, and having a fresh set of extremely knowledgeable eyes can catch mistakes that make all the difference. A dog trainer will be able to pick up on subtle errors that you are making, such as confusing communication or timing issues. Sometimes these little things can be the difference between a failure to teach your dog anything, or having a quick and successful training session!
A trainer may notice that you’re using body language that conflicts with what you’re asking your dog to do. Maybe you’re holding the treat in the wrong place, or guiding your dog to do something different without realizing it. Timing is also something that is extremely important, and a trainer can help you catch the exact moment you need to reward your dog for maximum effect. Or, you could be using the completely wrong approach and even going backwards with what you’re trying to teach your dog. No blog or video can look and tell you what you’ve missed, but a trainer can!
4. They’ve seen it all, and they know exactly what to do about it
Your trainer has likely seen hundreds of dogs during their career, which means that whatever you’re struggling with when it comes to your dog’s training, they’ve probably seen and corrected many dogs who had a much more severe problem on your own. They’ve done whatever you are trying to do many, many times and have refined their techniques and approach, fine-tuning the way they address unique training situations.
5. There are some situations where professional help is absolutely necessary.
Sometimes there are more severe versions of an issue that you run into with your dog that you just can’t seem to fix on your own. Sometimes these issues can cause serious stress and anxiety in both you and your dog. And sometimes an issue reaches a point where it can become dangerous- maybe your dog is reactive and you worry about having them around strangers, or your dog becomes destructive whenever left home alone.
6. Other awesome benefits
Many trainers will do more than teach your dog to sit. They often offer group classes, from basic puppy training, to canine good citizenship (which you can read more about here) to advanced training classes on agility. Group training classes are a fantastic hands-on way to train your dog under the supervision and direction of a dog specialist! It’s a great opportunity to learn, and it’s especially good for helping your dog socialize, but also learn how to focus even when other dogs and distractions are present. You may even meet other people who share common interests with you and do some socialization yourself!
They may also offer doggy day-care, which is absolutely one of the best ways to tire out your dog. Not only will they get to play with other pups, learn how to behave nicely in a group, and generally have a good time, they will have humans supervising them that will also know a lot about dogs and may even help your pup pick up on better behaviors around strangers. Putting your dog into daycare is a great way to break up the monotony of being home all day and is a fantastic and easy way to enrich their life!
How to know they’re “the one”
I found out about my trainer through word of mouth, and the person couldn’t stop singing their praises. I got really lucky to hear about them and my life is definitely different now than it would have been if I had never sought out their services. While Cookie and I have our struggles, he was also a hugely important part of my life and helped me get through some of the roughest years I ever had.
A good dog trainer will be passionate about dogs. They should also be willing to answer questions about their training techniques and facilities. While you may not always be allowed to just walk through their facility without restriction, in my trainer’s case they were willing to show me around, and between Cookie’s one-on-one training and group class I saw enough to be totally comfortable leaving him in their care.
One of my favorite things is that they regularly take videos of the dogs in daycare and post snippets online for their owners to see. I left Cookie in daycare when I got married and was on my honeymoon, and while I am an extremely anxious person, I felt a lot more at ease sitting in our hotel room watching Cookie play with the other dogs, his body language relaxed and happy.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time here bragging on Cookie’s trainer, but it really was the best experience I ever could have hoped for. When you’re deciding to work with a dog trainer, you should feel comfortable with them and their training techniques. And if you find a trainer you absolutely love, spread the word! Your trainer and your fellow dog enthusiasts will appreciate it.
Have you ever worked with a dog trainer?
Yes, no, maybe you’re even a dog trainer yourself! Let us know how dog training has changed your life! And, as always, I hope you and your pup are staying safe, healthy, and happy! I look forward to writing for you again next week!