How To Know When To Call In A Professional Trainer

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Sometimes it’s hard to know when to call in a professional dog trainer, and when to handle training yourself. For most people, training is just a matter of teaching the dog the house rules. Some common things are: not getting on the furniture, potty outside only, and no chewing on anything other than dog toys. These things are usually easily taught by the dog owner and there are resources available on the internet to help when needed. You may want to look into hiring a professional trainer if:

1. You find yourself getting frustrated trying to communicate with your dog. Trainers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves that can help alleviate the frustration and set you on the right track.

2. You have a more extensive list of things you will expect from your dog to be able to live stress-free in your home, such as not rushing the door when someone comes in, or waiting at an open door until given the signal to go out, or laying down quietly away from the table while the family eats.

3. You have a specific issue that you are having trouble with. Examples include barking, jumping, and pulling on the leash when walking.

4. You have an issue that is safety-related such as biting or dog to dog aggression.

5. You have children. It’s always a good idea to have children involved in the training and responsibility for the dog. A trainer can make sure this is done safely for the children and the dog.

6. You have special needs and want to train your dog to be a service animal, or therapy animal.

Hiring a professional trainer doesn’t always mean that you will be committed to hours and hours of lessons, or lots of money. Most trainers will tell you if you would be better served in a group class setting, or if a private session or two would be better. I have also had instances where I was able to just give some guidance over the phone. There are also several other ways to find training help. Lots of local shelters offer low-cost classes, or may have a behaviorist on staff that you can set an appointment with. You can find trainers in your area through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. There are also a world of resources through books, videos, and websites (like Doggywoof) where you can find help. Good luck with your training, whether it’s basic, or advanced. Have fun!

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

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