Hiring a Dog Trainer
Many individuals market themselves as trainers, but they are under qualified or not qualified.
Handlers, and people with long-standing animal interest, while very nice and well-intentioned, are not trainers, if they have no formal schooling and subsequent supervised experience. You will never go wrong by calling someone directly and asking questions.
Be careful about “free consultations” in your home. Don’t sign any training contracts or “service agreements” before you investigate and determine your goals. Training should never be entered into under duress from a seller in your home.
Why Train for Obedience?
As a veterinarian, there is nothing more pleasant than walking into an exam room and greeting a well behaved, well socialized, and confident dog. I know I can complete a thorough physical exam and perform any necessary procedures with ease and without endangering myself or my staff in any way. The encounter goes smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. I have plenty of time to discuss any health concerns and treatment plans with the pet owner before feeling rushed to my next waiting appointment. Most importantly, the dog enjoys the visit and leaves the office with a pat on the head, a tail wag, and if interested, a few treats. This sets us up for a lifetime of pleasant veterinary exams.
Unfortunately, we often encounter a less ideal situation. Frequently, my patient has rarely left his/her home environment, has had no training and is terrified. In spite of my attempts to ease him/her with a gentle voice and some food bribes, the experience is frightening. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the necessity to perform the exam and necessary procedures in that visit, we are forced to restrain the pet, place a muzzle, and reinforce the dog’s opinion that the veterinary clinic is a scary place. Due to the extra time needed to try to settle the dog and take the necessary measures to keep myself and my staff safe, I have far less time to discuss my findings and recommendations with the owner. These animals often leave the clinic too nervous for us to make amends with affection or treats. We have set the patient up for a lifetime of unpleasant veterinary exams.
Too often, we don’t have the opportunity to address behavioral issues until problems develop. Any trainer will tell you that behavioral problems are much harder and more expensive to correct than prevent. Starting your dog in a well-designed training program with an experienced trainer is paramount in maximizing the enjoyment you and your pet get out of your relationship. A good training program should address not only obedience but socialization in a variety of settings to improve the dog’s confidence outside the situations to which he/she is accustomed. Your dog should be trained to allow basic handling of feet, ears, mouth, and touching anywhere on his/her body. The sooner you get started with this, the less likely it is that your pet will develop problem behaviors. Your relationship with your dog will be much more pleasant, and those dreaded veterinary visits can be enjoyable for all.
-Lena Roeder, DVM
Dr. Roeder is the owner and one of the veterinarians at Dublin Animal Hospital.
She has extensive experience in treating small animals and exotics.