MAYbe it's time to get help from a Dog Trainer or seek the advice from a Behavior Consultant?
But how do you know? And how do you find one that can actually help you out?
This is going to be the last of my MAYbe posts for this monthly series. Like usual, I didn't get to all the blogs I wanted to write but I've tried to hit on the most important ones. If you have a MAYbe type question feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
How do you know that it's time to seek the help of a Dog Trainer or Behavior Consultant?
- Your dog has a habit that drives you crazy! (This could be jumping, barking, nipping...anything really, but it's driving you crazy!)
- Your dog has had a sudden personality change such as becoming fearful, more hyper, more tired, or not wanting to do previously loved activities.
- Your dog seems to be needing something and you can't figure out what it is. (This can often drive you crazy as they may seem to need more...exercise, food, etc.)
- Your dog is hurting you or other people or themselves! (Safety is always a huge concern.)
- You wonder if your dog can learn to do a specific behavior but you don't know where to start.
Do you need a Dog Trainer or Behavior Consult?
You know you need help, but how do you get it?
- Look for a DT/BC who shares your ethics and beliefs when it comes to animal care. There is a big divide among trainers of those who train with a dominance based, "My dog should do what their told!" & those who train with an animal centered approach, "My dog and I are a team, but we need to learn more together!" Then there are some professionals that are somewhere in the middle between those 2 approaches. Deciding what is important to you or where you are on this scale is the first step in finding help. Then look for a trainer that has the same ethics and beliefs that you have.
- Look for someone that teaches in a way that is easy for you to understand. Especially with the issues revolving around Covid, DT's have been forced into seeking alternative training outlets and now most will offer in-person & virtual services. All people have a learning preference or style of learning that they are more comfortable with. Some people would rather read books and print materials, while others want to see the skills in action. Some people learn better in a group setting where they can share ideas with others who are working on the same skills, yet others prefer to work independently. With all these options, dog owners can really play to their own strengths by finding a DT who teaches with the best learning style for the dog owner.
- Look for someone that you can talk to easily and develop a connection with. A good DT/BC doesn't just want to push you through classes, but actually wants to help you and your dog be successful. The best way to ensure success with clients is to connect with them on a personal level. This makes #3 one the most important things to do when searching for a dog professional. You should be totally comfortable discussing anything and everything dog related with your DT. And if you are a Service Dog Handler, you may also need to be comfortable discussing your medical issues with your DT so they can better assist you. If you can't be open and honest with your DT, it's going to impact your ability to make progress as a team. Like all relationships, this doesn't happen overnight but you should never be afraid to ask your DT questions about what you are supposed to be doing or why you should be doing it.