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Help! I don't know what kind of Dog Training I should choose!

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

What to look for when you look for a Dog Trainer!

a dog in training
A dog in training

As a busy dog owner, finding the time to properly train your dog can be a challenge. Life just always seems to get in the way and it’s natural that kids, family, work, and social life are usually prioritised over the dog and his needs. However, the reality is that left untrained, our dogs are very likely to begin to impact every other area of our lives in a negative way.


Imagine that you can’t go out to dinner or a movie for fear of the neighbours complaining that your dog is barking! Yet again!


How awful would it be if you got pulled over and injured by your dog who didn’t get to learn about walking calmly or who was obsessed with chasing the neighbour's cat?


What a nightmare if you end up having to surrender or rehome a dog that you love dearly because he or she is not coping with the arrival of a new baby.



With so many options for dog training available these days, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you and your dog. Do you choose classes or get in a trainer? Send your dog away for training? Enrol in an online program? And how does the training work? What will I need to do? What do I need to buy? Can I even afford this?


In this blog post, we'll cover the most important factors to consider when choosing a dog training option that fits your lifestyle, your aims, your dog’s issues, and your belief system.


a dog in training
What method of dog training suits you, your dog, your situation and your aims?

Methodology


The first thing to consider is the training methodology, above and beyond anything else.


  • "Aversive Training" involves using punishment to correct unwanted behaviours. These days there is very little training available that is purely aversive but many years ago the so-called “choker chain brigade” were probably almost purely aversive since they used no praise. However, many trainers do use some aversive methods.

  • "Purely Positive Training" is when you reward your dog for good behaviour, whilst never saying no or offering anything negative. Rewards could include food, pats, cuddles, toys, games, or anything that is likely to get the dog to do that behaviour more often. You’ll likely be asked to ignore naughty or undesirable behaviour.

  • "Balanced Trainers" work from the perspective of rewarding any behaviours that we do want AND correcting behaviours that we do not want so that the dog understands both positive and negative. Rewards are generally not limited to using food (in fact I prefer to avoid the use of food in most situations) and consequences should be limited to things that the dog would prefer to avoid but without causing fear, intimidation, or pain.


If you don’t know what type of training to choose, consider your preferences in how you raise your children, or how you feel you would if you don’t have any. Are you permissive and never want to raise your voice or tell the kids off? Or are you strict and don’t put up with any BS? Are you happy to dish out consequences for their antics or do you stick to ignoring the naughty stuff?


Considering methodology would generally also include a discussion with the trainer, before you begin, about what sort of equipment will be needed or used, and what sort of techniques are likely to come into play. Find out something about the program content that you are choosing before you choose it, or it’s like buying a car that you know nothing about and have no idea if it will meet your needs. Pointless and potentially disappointing.


Logistics


a dog in training
A dog in training

Next, you'll want to consider the logistics of the training program.

  • How far away is the training facility? Just choosing the nearest one because it’s the nearest one sometimes ends badly with dog owners doing something different at home to what they would be learning in class

  • Can you fit the training sessions into your schedule? If the training sessions are on at a very inconvenient time and you find it difficult to attend on a regular basis you might get more value out of having private sessions

  • Does the trainer offer one-on-one sessions or group classes? Some trainers offer both, whilst some like me choose to specialise

  • A lot of online programs offer convenience, affordability, and practicality. Just make sure that you choose one that aligns with your beliefs so that you can get the most out of it, and check if it is supported or unsupported so that you know whether you are going to be able to get personalised help or not

It's important to choose a program that is convenient and fits your schedule but not at the expense of methodology. Simply choosing the nearest or most conveniently situated training school usually doesn’t work because people end up with training techniques that they don’t believe in and therefore they don’t follow through and use them. Poor results from an incorrect selection of training could end up with the dog labelled stupid or untrainable, which they usually are not.



Finance


Of course, the cost of the trainer, training program or school is also an important consideration. Dog training can range from expensive to inexpensive, so you'll want to choose a program that fits your aims, schedule, AND budget. Be sure to factor in the cost of any necessary equipment or find out what is included in the program that you are choosing.


Additionally, consider what ongoing training might be required so that you can budget over the longer term if needed.


In general, an online program will be an inexpensive option compared to having a trainer come into your home. Group classes will usually set you back a lot less than a board & train program or a short intensive.


Recommendations from people you know


It can be helpful to get recommendations from people you know. Ask friends, family members, work colleagues or even your vet for their recommendations. They may be able to point you in the direction of a great trainer or training program that they have personal experience with. But just remember that they may have different belief systems from you, and they may have different aims, so take their recommendations and do your own research.


a puppy in training
A puppy in training


In conclusion, finding the right dog trainer, training program or school for you and your fur friend may take some research and consideration, but it's worth it in the end. By considering the methodology, logistics, and finance you can choose a program that fits your beliefs, budget & lifestyle so that you end up with a dog whom you can include in your daily activities, trust with your precious little people or guests, and take anywhere as a part of the family.






About A New Leash on Life Dog Training


Because I use a balanced approach to dog training, and if you choose to train with me, we will be using rewards and positive reinforcement, but we will not be using food. I prefer not to rely on food because I don’t want to take food with me every place I ever go, I don’t want my dogs to learn to ignore me if I have no food or run out, and I don’t want to end up in a situation where I might still be of less importance to my dog, even with food, than the dog he's playing with or bird he’s chasing etc. I do use the word no, and I do teach a consequence process for ignoring me or for an unacceptable behavioural choice, but without resorting to fear, intimidation, or pain.


So, for me, I train my dogs the way that I feel aligns with my belief system – rewards for listening and good behaviour but without food reliance – consequences without violence for inappropriate choices.


What do you believe in?


Drop me a line anytime to find out more.


Check out my fully supported Online Programs here.


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