How Many Lessons Does It Take To Train A Dog?
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I was speaking to a student today, going over their homework. We’ve been working through a lot of issues with their two Labs. Not only did the dogs require Basic Obedience, the dogs are 9 months old and had months to develop a lot of really irritating behaviors. Some of the worst problems were intense jumping on guests and on children, stealing things from countertops, inability to walk the dogs on leash anywhere because of intense pulling, physical destruction of the interior walls of the home because of chewing, running away if a door is left open and having to chase the dog down at the nearby golf course, and then family difficulties because of a handicapped child (adding additional stress to the home). In other words, the dogs started out completely out of control.
We are most of the way through the training, but we are still working through issues. One of the problems we discussed tonight was that one of the dogs is always running at “high idle”, meaning the dog is always busy and never calm. So, we are investigating some solutions to that right now.
As we were going over this, they said they had been talking to friends about what others had done with their dogs. This couple knows a lot of people, especially as a result of working with other parents with handicapped kids. They said they heard numerous stories of dogs being professionally trained… and the dogs not ending up trained at all. They specifically mentioned one dog that had been enrolled in a local dog training school in a board-and-train type program, costing about $2,000 and lasting 2 weeks. After that, the dog didn’t obey anything, and so they ended up giving the dog away. My students said they could tell, with all we’ve had to work through, that there’s no way you can properly train a dog in 2 weeks… which I agreed. Most of those programs are quick fix electric collar training set ups, and the dogs are rushed through just for the trainer to make some fast money. And the dogs end up being given away when it doesn’t work out back home. I’ve seen this numerous times, having to re-train dogs that were supposedly trained in such programs.
So, how many lessons does it take to train a dog? I think that is the wrong question to be asking. If you are going down that route, then you, too, might just be heading towards getting rid of your dog. You should instead be looking to find an energetic and caring trainer that will work with you and your dog to get effective results. It isn’t about the number of lessons, it is about doing things right and seeing them through, getting the most out of the dog that is possible.
When I train a dog, yes, I do have in mind a target number of lessons. But, that can easily go out the window if the dog is “saying” that it needs more time to figure things out. I give dogs that kind of leeway so that they end up well, and also end up with a home and not in a shelter.
Find that kind of trainer for your dog and forget about numbers of lessons.