Part of getting a new canine – whether a puppy or a dog from a shelter – is to make sure that they have the proper socialization skills, understand commands and learn that you’re the alpha in the family. Some owners choose to start obedience training on their own, while others may seek out the help of professionals to make sure it’s done right.
According to PetMD.com, selecting a trainer or a class to start your new addition in can be a challenge, as you’ll want to find one that fits your lifestyle. During your search, try to ask around to friends and family who have used trainers or obedience schools for their own pooches, as they’ll give you honest answers.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior reports that when searching for trainers, it’s important to ask what methods they use to teach the dogs. The best and most proficient form of teaching is through positive, rather than negative reinforcement. This means while learning, a dog will get rewarded with treats if she listens to a command but won’t get the snack if she doesn’t follow the command.
A good trainer should also be a good teacher to you, as you are the one who will need to follow through with the obedience when you’re at home. Ask to sit in on a class with potential trainers to see how they work. Look for a trainer who explains the behavior they are working on and why it is important before they demonstrate it. While at the class, make sure the trainer also makes ample time to provide one-on-one help to each owner and their dog, as this is a better outlet for people to ask questions.
Any training company you select should have staff that show respect for dogs and owners. Avoid trainers who suggest using force to keep a dog in line or who criticize owners if their dogs aren’t progressing as fast as they should be. When evaluating facilities, take the time to ask current students certain questions like, “Are you enjoying being in the class?” or “Is your dog learning?”
Lastly, once you find an educated and successful trainer, you should make sure that they require their students to have the proper pet meds and vaccinations before being allowed in classes. This not only shows that the school is not solely concerned with getting money, but that employees genuinely care about each dog’s safety.