This is the final of four posts covering how to choose a dog trainer. In this segment, we’ll cover practical matters including online reviews, fees/costs, guarantees, etc.
When researching dog trainers in the Tucson area or any area, be sure to utilize third party websites, such as:
Other reviews to consider are Facebook and Thumbtack.
All dog trainers will have a few poor reviews (nobody’s perfect!); however, the good must outweigh the bad. For each bad review, take time to read the trainer’s response or comment about it. Trainers should take their time to explain to potential clients why that client gave them a poor review. Doing so shows they care and understand how the review process works. Keep in mind not all third parties have valid reviews. in some cases anyone can leave a review with no verification process at all so be sure to do your homework.
When assessing training costs, be sure you’re comparing “apples to apples” — don’t compare the charge of a group training class with in-home training, as the price of each will vary greatly. Also, be sure to factor in any extra cost required to purchase special supplies. For example, an electronic vibration or shock collar (“e-collar”) can cost $175+. Be aware ahead of time of all additional equipment that a particular training method may require. As well as, do you want that equipment used on your dog!
Expect that the trainers you contact will meet you in person to assess you and your dog (if they won’t, that’s a red flag to move on to another trainer). Be sure to ask if there is a fee associated with the introductory meeting. Many companies charge a meet-up fee, ranging from $50-$150 per hour. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with this — after all, they’re in business to make a profit, just like me – you should also know other trainers – myself included — do things differently.
I offer a no-obligation meeting at the home of every prospective client. (For clients who live outside my area, a modest trip charge may apply. If this is the case, I will address this charge with you over the phone.) Once I meet you, review your situation, and explain my process, we will discuss how to proceed.
Ask yourself several questions at your first meeting with the trainer, such as:
- Do you like the trainer’s methods?
- Do you agree with their general attitude and approach?
- Have they communicated well what to expect in the training sessions?
Finding a good personality match is critical to the success of the training. Seek a trainer you instinctively believe in and feel good about. You should be comfortable with how the trainer handles your dog, because you will be expected to duplicate those methods yourself. Trust your instincts when it comes to what’s right for you and your pack.
Many trainers are undiplomatic in telling a client that they are directly responsible for their dog’s unwanted behaviors. Thus, the trainer may come across as harsh or stern, which is extremely insulting to some clients. Because our dogs are part of our families, it matters how we trainers address the pet’s behavioral issues the client is dealing with. The message may be correct, but how the message is sent to the person is very important.
I always put clients first, and treat them with respect and honesty. Training your dog should be a fun, constructive process, never uptight or angry. While there may be times when things get stressful, especially when dealing with dog aggression, we can dial down the tension by interspersing our sessions with play training and non-stressful walks. Dogs don’t learn well when they are stressed or anxious.
Can you really expect “guaranteed results”? Frankly, my dear, the answer is “No.” That’s because the key to success relies almost entirely on you to follow through on the training homework.
And this leads us to another reason the training method you choose is so important: If the trainer is using techniques that you are not comfortable doing yourself, then the training is not going to work. Again, you need to be 100% comfortable with the trainer’s approach.
Here’s what else can happen: After your training sessions are over, your dog is doing great. Then a few months go by and your dog starts to act up again, so you call the dog trainer to return to work with your dog again. The trainer shows up, the dog shines, everybody is happy. But then after the trainer leaves, you are more confused about why the dog acted so well. What “magic” does the trainer have that you don’t?
The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy: It’s all about the relationship you develop and maintain with your dog. It’s about your dog absorbing three key ingredients that create the relationship: respect, trust and bond. If any one of these is weak, unwanted behaviors can reappear, such as ignoring your commands or housebreaking issues.
I have three dogs, and one of them tests me frequently. If I don’t stay proactive, he can unbalance the entire pack. He keeps me on my toes! Using natural training methods that dogs instinctively understand, I’m able to keep my pack balanced and happy.
Finding the precise communication method that fits your dog’s temperament is one of the key ingredients to a happy dog. If you want to discuss your dog, give me a call and please mention this blog post!
Dog Training Mobile – Gerard Raneri 520-440-8848 http://www.dogtrainingintucson.com/
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