6 Reasons To Hire A Dog Trainer

6 Reasons To Hire A Dog Trainer

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.

In today’s world there is a wealth of information you can find. Anything from learning to bake from someone’s grandma’s award-winning recipe to getting tools and tips for getting started in carpentry is just a few clicks away. We live in a do-it-yourself world, where many people pick up new skills for fun, and many more seek out online learning in order to save money in lieu of seeking out a professional’s help and knowledge. Sometimes for better or worse, depending what you’re trying to do.

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

Dog trainers are just as much about teaching you how to teach your dog, how your dog thinks, etc. as they are about training your dog themselves. They can assess your dog’s personality, quirks, and other factors that may affect the way that your dog learns, and they can teach you to use this to your advantage. They can give you a range of information anywhere from the general process of teaching your dog to specific tips and tricks you may have never even thought of. Best of all, you can see the results of these changes in your approach in real time with your dog trainer.

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

A dog trainer is especially great if you come across a problem that you can’t seem to fix- for me, I had a lot of trouble with my dog Cookie pulling his leash constantly during walks. One day working with our trainer pretty much solved this issue (as well as taught him many other important skills!) At the end of the day he had me walk a few laps in the parking lot to give me a few pointers on how to lead Cookie on a focused, but relaxed, walk.

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. 

Maybe the struggles you have with your dog have caused you to alter how you live your life. Maybe you no longer accept visitors due to your dog’s aggression with strangers. Maybe you can’t leave your dog at home due to destructive tendencies. For me, I can’t ever leave Cookie in a crate because he gets so anxious he chews on the bars trying to get out. And for me, a failure to get through to my beloved dog with do-it-yourself training has led to a life where I cannot leave my home unless he is able to come with me. I can’t go on dates with my husband, and I can’t visit with friends unless they allow Cookie to come along. I can’t go shopping or run errands and sometimes I feel trapped in my own home.

In situations like this, many people would feel the need to rehome their dog once they reach the end of their rope. It’s sad but completely understandable that if a dog absolutely prevents you from living the life you want, you would eventually have to do something to change the situation. However, you also have the option to seek professional help first. I am looking to the bright side of things though, and I will soon be moving back to my hometown where my favorite trainer is- who has been a lifesaver before with my training struggles! I hope to get some professional help working with Cookie’s separation anxiety, and if nothing else works, they have a world-class doggy daycare and overnight kennel that I feel completely confident in entrusting them with my furry friend.

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!

Finally, a dog trainer can give you the best advice on tools for better training and doggy care. My trainer taught me how to gain complete control during dog walks using a slip lead. No fancy leash or crazy harness. At first I was really surprised that a thin strip of fabric with a loop on one end and a small metal ring on the other was the secret to solving my dog’s leash-pulling problem. What if he saw something he wanted to chase? Well, just give a quick, purposeful yet gentle tug on the lead in this specific way and all the problems melt away, because you’re controlling your dog’s gaze and therefore their attention, and also giving direct and specific instructions without a word, just a tug on a lead. I still find this mind-blowing to this day.

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!