Training Your Dog
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]
Many people ask:
* What should I do? I am embarrassed by my dog. My husband won’t work with the dog. My son can’t even come in the house. My neighbors are complaining. I have to walk my dog at odd hours of the day and night. My dog is too friendly and jumps all over my guests.
* What’s it going to take to get my dog to stop jumping, pulling me on a walk, stop biting, stop chewing and destroying my furniture, to stop being afraid and anxious, stop running away, and to listen to me when I’m around distractions and come when called?
* What does it take to take an untrained dog and turn it into a trained dog?
* What are the steps involved?
* Are there any secrets to training a dog?
* How do I get a good dog trainer and avoid being ripped off by a bad dog trainer?
Embarrassed? Start With The Other End Of The Leash
Good dog obedience and manners start with training the owner. I could give you a fully trained, well mannered, dog with excellent temperament and you could totally unravel all of that if you didn’t know what you were doing or were abusive to the dog. You need training or none of this is going to work.
I’m honest and won’t be politically correct. Here’s what is going on: The reason you are probably having problems with your dog is because YOU are the one encouraging or allowing it to happen. If you were doing the right things with your dog, the jumping, leash pulling, biting, chewing, anxiety and disobedience would start to go away. Too much dog training is focused on the dog and not on the people with the dog. Whether you realize it or not, YOU are training your dog every day by what you are or are not doing. Worse yet, if you’ve been taught, or are learning, bad technique, then you are causing all of this.
Further, many dog owners either purposely, or unintentionally, abuse their dogs. I received a recent inquiry asking if it is OK to beat a dog with a rope or rolled up magazine. Think about that. It was a serious inquiry as to whether it was OK to continue to abuse their dog.
I am around a lot of dogs every day. I was outside a local off leash park the other day. And probably 95% of the dogs were being roughly handled by their owners going the distance between their cars and the entrance to the off leash area. Leashes were being jerked, dogs coughing on their collars, dogs being allowed to leash and fence fight with other dogs, and I saw one man roughly toss his Great Dane into his car for something the dog had done in the off leash area a few minutes before. I will bet that if I asked, every one of these people would say they loved their dogs, and would never abuse them. But, what they are doing is just the opposite.
What kind of dog owner are you? And why aren’t you getting professional help with your dog?
Untrained To Trained
Proper dog training requires a step by step process of teaching fundamentals, which then leads to doing practical exercises that simulate what you might encounter in the real world. That can’t be done in 3 or 5 lessons. That can’t be done in a pet store type of environment, a quickie electric collar training program, or with a method dog trainer who sticks to just one way of training all dogs.
Every skill requires learning the fundamentals. If you are learning a musical instrument, you will do a lot of boring exercises at first. You won’t be playing music. If you are learning martial arts, you won’t be fighting in tournaments the first week. Instead you’ll be doing lots of stretching and fundamental movement exercises for months and months. And if you are properly training a dog, you will be doing lots of fundamental exercises. Some exercises are for the dog. Some exercises will be teaching you fundamental handling skills. Until those fundamentals are in place, neither you or your dog will be ready for any real world simulation exercises. You should never let an untrained dog off leash in public.
For example, what would you do. Your dog has gotten off leash from you at an unfenced park, surrounded by streets with cars. Your dog has run up ahead to visit with 4 other friendly, off leash dogs. From a distance, another dog comes rushing up to the group, but this one isn’t friendly. It starts stalking your dog, hair up on it’s back. The owner of that dog is nearly 60 yards away. You see a fight is brewing, but your dog is running around pretty fast. It is possible that if a dog fight starts, the other dogs could all get involved. What should you do?
A trained dog owner with a trained dog would be in the best situation to prevent a bloody fight. An untrained dog owner, regardless of the training of the dog, would most likely not even see the fight coming, nor would be able to head it off.
This can be learned in a good training program, so long as you stick with it through advanced obedience. A quickie program won’t get you out of this jam. A dog that has only a few lessons to deal with jumping or leash pulling is in no way prepared to obey in any emergency, or around any distractions.
Step By Step
So, what are the steps to having a fully trained, obedient, well mannered dog? If starts with getting the right dog for you. The pup needs socialization, house training, and puppy manners lessons. Once the pup is about 4 months of age, you should begin Basic Obedience. And as your dog gets past Basic, you should move into Intermediate and then Advanced Obedience, to gain the type of bond, respect, and teamwork needed for real life emergencies and daily enjoyment of your dog. You will also need to practice your obedience in public, and keep your skills sharp throughout the life of your dog. Finally, your dog needs to be healthy. You shouldn’t be going to a cut rate veterinarian. Behavioral problems sometimes have a medical cause.
There is no other way. None. I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you that if you spend $500 you can have a trained dog. I’m not going to tell you that if you get some clickers, or an electric collar, that your dog will be well mannered and safe in emergencies. That clicker wouldn’t have helped you in that off leash emergency I described earlier. Nor would an electric collar have helped. Those are just TOOLS. They don’t magically give you the skills and control you need to know what to do when in the real world. People, and many trainers, focus too much on the tools of training instead of getting the dog and owner trained.
Are there any dog training secrets? Yes, there are. There is so much to learn about proper dog training that isn’t to be found in the bookstore, online, from the pet store, from your veterinarian, or from typical obedience classes. A good dog trainer continually learns about his or her craft. I study hours and hours every week, just to be a better professional. It is never ending. For example, I was Head Trainer at a boarding kennel and doggie daycare for 3 years. I learned many things through hours and hours of watching groups of dogs play, greet, and even fight. And I learned a lot about people, too. None of that was in books. It had to be learned the hard way, through experience. And then boiled down into practical lessons which could be taught in my classes.
The things I’ve learned I don’t give away for free. And I won’t teach them to my competitors. That’s business. It’s how I make myself different from the rest. I can do things today that I couldn’t do 10 years ago. I’m better. And I can use those skills to set myself apart from my competition, and charge accordingly for my expertise.
So How Do You Get A Good Dog Trainer?
Around 1999, I was looking for a Giant Schnauzer. I had decided I wanted one, so I started doing my homework and was calling all over the US looking for a good breeder. There are two types of Giant Schnauzer, pet or working, couch potato or police dog. I wanted a working Giant Schnauzer, a dog that could do competitive obedience and get high level Schutzhund titles. Well, one thing led to another, and I decided one way to find a good dog was to talk to folks that did Schnauzer rescue. I figured they could steer me away from bad kennels and point me to a good breeder. I also was asking to find a good trainer, because Schutzhund is a specialty sport and there are a lot of flaky Schutzhund trainers out there. I was referred to Armin Winkler. At the time, he lived in British Columbia, Canada, and I lived in Seattle. My first call to him lasted 5 HOURS, and cost me over $100 in long distance charges. He is a Schnauzer expert. And he is a master dog trainer. Three years later, I had switched breeds and gotten a Doberman, and I had trained numerous times with Armin, and also had the privilege of becoming his friend. Armin is one of the best trainers in the country, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without what I learned from him. I would just be a ham and egger, like 99% of the others out there, struggling Cesar Millan wannabees. I wanted to become a great trainer, and learning from him set me on the right course.
I found him through getting referrals. I am a big believer in referrals. Anyone can say anything in an advertisement. People even fake the customer reviews on their web pages and at web pages that publish customer reviews. That’s why I always offer my customers the ability to call my references before we ever meet. Sometimes, I won’t even meet with someone without them first calling my references. References can then be used to verify all the stuff the trainer told you over the phone, or said in their advertising materials. References, after interviewing the actual trainer you are going to use, are how you find a good trainer.
The goal should be a well mannered, well trained dog in the hands of a well mannered, well trained dog owner. If you short circuit this process, you’ll always be dealing with behavioral symptoms, not the root causes of your embarrassments and frustrations with your dog.