Why Hire A Trainer?
Why Hire A Trainer?
As a professional dog trainer, I often get caught up in conversations online and in person where I advise people to find a certified dog trainer. I tend to get a bunch of excuses or “reasons” why that’s not an option. This actually just happened to me last week on a social media site where an acquaintance who lives a few states away was asking for behavioral advice of the masses and it was a mess! There are so many reasons why soliciting advice from various sources is a bad idea: you will get numerous conflicting advice and when I recommended hiring a professional, I get the usual rebuke. Here are a few of the most common reasons people don’t want to hire a dog trainer:
- My dog is too crazy. We tried taking him to class and it did not work.
- I don’t have enough time.
- I can do it myself.
- It’s too expensive.
- I don’t know how to find a good trainer. The internet has too many options and I don’t want to waste my time/money without knowing who to trust.
Let me address a few of these right now:
- Your dog is a dog. That’s not to say that all dogs are the same, but all dogs have the potential to learn. Think your dog is too crazy or “can’t learn?” What about the dogs rescued from the dog fighting ring funded by Michael Vick? Look where they are now: http://barkpost.com/vicktory-dogs/. You may have had one, two, or ten dogs in your life and your current dog may seem “crazy” in comparison, but a certified trainer has seen hundreds! Believe me, there is almost nothing you can tell me about your dog that will shock me at this point and I have already learned how to handle your issues before I even approach your dog. And if I don’t, I know who to refer you to if I haven’t. In essence, I won’t be surprised and I won’t waste your time.
- If you don’t have enough time to train your dog you either don’t have enough time for a dog and you certainly don’t have enough time to clean up after your dog’s misbehavior. Training definitely takes time, but having set appointments with a trainer where you need to show progress helps keep you accountable and motivated. As a professional trainer, I still take classes and workshops with my own dogs just to make sure I am being responsible and giving them the time and energy they deserve.
- You may be able to teach some things yourself, especially if you are well read in behavior and have some other experience with other dogs. A trainer, however, is a second pair of experienced eyes who may spot something that you missed or who may be able to show you a better or easier way to do something. Also, a certified trainer knows more than just how to train a new trick or end a problem behavior; they understand the psychology behind learning and might spot body signals you didn’t know your dog was giving you. They also keep you accountable and realistic. Sometimes you just need to be told to slow down or adjust your criteria/expectations.
- Training can be expensive, but so can law suits and new furniture. If your dog has a problem behavior you are going to need to put your money somewhere at some point to deal with it. Think of training more as an investment than an expense. You are putting your time and money forward to ensure you have a happy, safe, well-behaved dog long term.
- There are plenty of lousy trainers out there. There are plenty of lousy lawyers, doctors, etc., as well. Where do you find a good qualified expert? Through a certifying board. Would you ever see a lawyer who has not passed the bar exam or a doctor that hasn’t been licensed? Probably not. The CCPDT is the only independent certifying body for dog trainers: it’s like the bar association. While there are many online and in person programs that claim to certify their trainers and give them some sort of accreditation or initials after their name, not all credentials are equal. Another great way to is to ask for references or go by word of mouth (word of mouth is not the same as online reviews as they can be skewed or paid for). Ask around and see if your friends or vet can recommend someone, then check out their credentials and be sure to ask a lot of questions before deciding what to do and who to listen to. At the end of the day, it is up to you to be a discerning consumer and choose the best for your pet.
Realizing that your dog needs training, whether they are already exhibiting a problem behavior or your trying to prevent future problems, is the first step to finding a solution. Half of the time, people don’t even realize that they would benefit from training until someone has pointed it out to them. This can be even more of an issue, so be proud when you realize you could use a hand and take the time to find an appropriate trainer and know that it will be money well spent.
Head Trainer- Perfect Pooch
BA, CPDT-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator