Pet Store Dog Training – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]
What can you expect from pet store training?
CASE STUDY: I conducted a FOUR HOUR lesson with a new student last night. She called me because her Chihuahua had been getting progressively more aggressive. She had been bitten many times, and was concerned that the situation was going to get to the point where she would have to put her dog down.
When I arrived, I wasn’t sure how to find her place. She lived in a very large apartment complex, it was 7 pm, and dark outside. So, I called her on my cellphone to have her guide me in. I met her at the foot of the stairs which led to her second story unit. After saying our “hello’s”, she told me how she normally had her dog greet guests, and wanted to know if that was OK this time. I told her I’d prefer to just meet the dog and let happen whatever was going to happen. I said that because the greeting routine was so artificial and the greeting was only going to make things worse.
When I entered her apartment, the dog started barking, growling, charging at me, then running away… over and over and over again. Yep, things weren’t going so well. After spending some time evaluating how the dog greeted a friendly guest, we sat down and started going over this dog’s background and the training that had been implemented. The owner is a very well meaning, caring individual. Nothing wrong there. She had prepared several pages of questions regarding everything she had done with the dog, and all the training advice she’d been given, primarily the advice she had received during a several week long pet store training program.
Before giving her any advice, I asked her to read off all of the things she had on her checklist. After about 20 minutes, I interrupted and told her I had heard enough. I think I shocked her. I told her that the problem was that among all of the things she had been told, and including all the other advice she had received from friends, from books, and from dog training TV shows, that she had lost the point of the entire relationship with her dog. I said she was so mired in the details, that she had stopped using her intuition regarding her dog. That was a real eye opener for her. I told her that she was implementing techniques, but never reading her dog, she was just doing things to her dog. Her dog had lost trust in her, and they were butting heads. The dog was resenting the things being done to him, and was starting to defend himself.
Because I know how to read and greet a strange dog, her Chihuahua had already decided he liked me, and was trying to get to know me while we talked. He brought be toys, came up and sat in my lap, and kept coming back to visit with me. So, we started with how to properly introduce her dog to strangers.
I then gave her an overview of dog behavior. I explained what was going on, and where we were headed. I knew these were things that she had never heard before. That is because most dog trainers are not very well educated. On the other hand, I am. I am a dog behavior expert. I have earned the right to say that after many years of experience and study. I know my stuff.
We then started all over again with her list of questions. And I took them on, one at a time, explaining in proper behavioral terms what was going on, and then showing her how to unravel all that was going on. And I demonstrated proper technique.
I was truly appalled at the advice she had received by the trainer at the pet store. You have to remember that these folks are well meaning, but they are not prepared well enough to be giving out behavioral advice. They are typically given about 3 weeks of instruction, and then sent out there to give advice on behavior to customers. There is no way that you can be ready to do that with that tiny amount of education. And these folks then know they don’t know enough. They are craving more education, so they go outside to find those answers, most often by watching popular dog TV shows. What they did directly contributed to this dog’s aggression, because what they had taught was wrong. Flat out wrong. And this dog’s behavior was proof of that.
We went over all the triggers causing the biting, and then I showed her what to do instead. We talked about everything from dominance, to giving obedience commands, to the proper use of a crate, leash, treats, commands, praise and so forth. We discussed how to remedy the growing aggression over having the toe nails trimmed, to giving a bath, putting on a leash, putting on a collar, putting the dog in a crate, getting the dog off the furniture, and carrying the dog. All of these situations had been getting progressively more dangerous.
It might not seem that big of a deal, having an aggressive Chihuahua. But, if you have to live with an aggressive dog, and when it gets to the point that you can’t hardly even care for the dog without blood being drawn, then that isn’t so fun. Even worse is when it isn’t just a nip, but the dog goes after you.
I had arrived at her place at 7 pm, and left at 11 pm. I let her know, as I was leaving, that I wanted a follow up call in a week. Follow up is always free, and I want this to work out. It had been a long day. Saturdays are my day off. I had done a long hike in the mountains earlier that day. I was already tired. But, she could only meet Saturday night. So, I agreed to meet, and drove an hour an a half to her place that night. It was then an hour and a half back home, so I got in the door past midnight. My alarm was set for 6 am, because today I had an 8 am appointment with a fearful Labrador. That 5 hours of sleep last night passed very quickly, and I know I’m going to sleep very hard tonight.
This evening, she called me to ask a few more questions, and to tell me that she had purchased all of the supplies I had recommended. She also went back to the store and demanded her money back. After an argument with the store manager, they agreed to refund her money. She told them that they were responsible for a lot of her dog’s aggression, and that in addition, it then made it necessary to hire a behaviorist to fix what was going on. I answered her questions, then finished my dinner.
MY OPINION: What do I think of pet store training? You should avoid it. You get what you pay for. If you are looking to become a dog trainer, I also don’t think this is the environment to get the right foundation, either. It takes years and years to get good at this, and there are no short cuts.