An email from a recent client posed this question:
“With endless conflicting advice about dog training on the internet, how am I supposed to know which dog trainers I can trust? What is the best type of dog training?“
When pet owners search the internet for solutions to their dog training problems, they are greeted by an onslaught of ideas recommendations, tips, and rants about the latest tips and scientific methods to “help” them.
Two things are certain:
- Dog training is not rocket science, and there are no new techniques that will warp the time space continuum of dog training.
- If you gather 100 dog trainers into a room and ask them how train a dog to sit, you’ll get 100 different answers in return.
Guys, there is no dog training magic wand.
There isn’t one right way to train a dog that will leave all other methods in the dust. To train a dog effectively a dog trainer needs to have extensive knowledge how to read a dog correctly, how to understand what motivates that particular dog (regardless of their breed’s characteristics), and how to use that knowledge to change their normal undesired behavior to shape a new desired behavior. All of this comes down to one thing… The dog trainer must be able to control the loading of a dog.
In dog training, loading refers to the energy level of a dog.
- Low energy= Low loading.
- High energy= High loading.
A trainer that can raise or lower a dog’s energy levels seemingly at will is a going to be able to accomplish great things. It is this balancing act that enables the dog’s attention to be captured so learning can begin.
This requires working with hundreds to thousands of different dogs of all breeds shapes and sizes. It requires that a dog trainer accomplish more than read a book and train their personal dog before declaring themselves to be a behaviorist (by the way- to use the term behaviorist an individual must first obtain the appropriate degree).
My advice is simple… Be cautious about what you read on the internet. No, in case you’re wondering, the irony here is not lost on me.
Instead use the internet as a resource to help you locate a reputable source, and then go meet them in person. You need to be able to have a rapport with them and be comfortable talking with them about personal issues, so make sure that they fit your personality style. Then use common sense… Are they trying to sell you on something, or are they listening to your goals and attempting to offer a solution? Are they promising the moon, or are they humble enough to recognize that this will be a partnership between the three of you: the trainer, you, and the dog.
Be cautious of the trainer who only has one method to train your dog. Whether they use positive motivation, traditional motivation techniques, or balanced motivation, they need to have multiple tools under their belt to be an effective problem solver.
The best dog trainer is the one who works with you to achieve your individual goals. What goals are you looking to accomplish through training?