When it comes to the smallest, furriest members of your family you want only the best. It is for this reason that you spend hours in the pet store reading labels to ensure that you find a food featuring organic ingredients (and minimal fillers like corn) and shampoos that are free of chemicals that your dog could ingest through licking his fur. Okay, maybe that’s just me. But the truth is that most pet owners love their little Fido or Fifi as much as any family member, and sometimes more. And the majority of us take the burden of responsibility for pet care very seriously. After all, their health and happiness hinges entirely on the way we treat them. So when you’ve reached the end of your rope in the training process and you just can’t figure out how to get your pooch to stop barking at the mailman, nipping at your son’s ankles, or using the neighbor’s lawn as a toilet, perhaps it’s time to bring in a professional dog trainer. However, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you hire someone.
1. Not every trainer is Cesar Millan. If you live in Los Angeles and you’ve got some cash to spare, perhaps you could obtain the services of the well-known “dog whisperer”. But most of us are relegated to reading his books and watching his TV show. So when you’re looking for an actual trainer in your area, try to temper your expectations. Just because the person you hire is not Cesar Millan doesn’t mean he or she can’t help your dog to learn the rules and behave in your household.
2. Get referrals. If you don’t have the first idea where to turn when it comes to finding a dog trainer, simply ask family, friends, and colleagues in the area. So many people have dogs at home that you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding out which trainers seem to have the magic touch and which ones are best avoided.
3. Find someone you like. If you don’t like your dog trainer the process is likely to fall flat. But don’t write someone off just because you get a little criticism for your methods. If you’ve never trained a dog before (or even if you have tried in the past) then you may not be aware of your own behaviors and how they’ve torpedoed the process. You don’t have to take a beating, but be open and receptive to critique. And if you get a bad feeling about a trainer for other reasons, don’t hesitate to find someone else.
4. Find someone your dog likes. It sometimes seems like our dogs are better judges of character than we are, so if your dog is scared or aggressive with a trainer it’s a good sign that you shouldn’t hire the person (unless of course your dog acts like that with everyone).
5. Participate. Even the top Los Angeles or Long Island dog trainers can’t control your pooch once their training time is up. It is therefore incumbent upon you, as the owner, to participate in training sessions. You’re the one who is going to have to take control of your pet, and if you want a happy household you need to make sure that you have the skills and knowledge required to ensure that your dog behaves appropriately. In truth, you’ll both get some training. A failure on your part to pay attention and get involved in this process is a recipe for failure on the part of your pet, with potentially disastrous consequences.