The following are some things your dog trainer may hesitate you tell you, or may have to put into nicer words, but in most cases you should know:
1. Many of your dogs so-called “issues” are actually caused by you. While many owners realize this right off the bat, others tend to blame their dog for his “issues”. The reality is your behavior and leadership (or lack thereof) is more important than your dogs predispositions. It’s not just your dog that needs training, you do too.
2. You have a dog that really isn’t suited to you. If you wanted a easy-going family pet that didn’t require much work, maybe you should not have gotten a (insert breed here). For example, a Border Collie is a smart breed of dog, but they are bred to work and need an active lifestyle. When they don’t get the type of home they need, things can really go bad.
3. We don’t like the gear you have for your dog. From extendable leashes to plastic baggie holders that are clunky and dragging on the floor, we often don’t like the gear your dog has. Harnesses, head halters, and even choke chains are not suited to every dog. Ask your trainer what equipment he or she recommends, and bring it every time. If your trainer shows you how to properly fit a prong collar, do not come in the next week with an extra link added in! Your dog did not grow in 1 week, and no it is not “too tight,” it’s supposed to be fitted properly, as we showed you.
4. We can tell when you’re not practicing at home. You may choose to do lessons or classes that meet once a week. When you come the following class, we expect to see some progress. We can tell when you’ve put work in and when you haven’t, so don’t lie.
5. Your dog is not your baby, he is your dog. While we all love our dogs like family, we must make the distinction and realize they are not humans, and they have different needs. Treating them like “children with fur” is doing them a disservice.
6. You aren’t exercising your dog enough. When I ask clients how much exercise their dog gets, some will claim they run with their dog three miles every day, and I don’t believe it. A hyperactive, anxious, wound up dog is a sure sign the owner is not exercising the dog enough.
7. Your dog is not trained. New clients will sometimes say they’ve already done training and want to join an advanced or off-leash class. Their dog pulls them in the door and they proceed to show me their dog “sits” (when they ask three times and hold up a treat) and “gives paw.” We have a bit higher standards for what a “trained” dog is. Start with formal obedience basics and build upon that, but don’t brag that your dog is already trained.
8. Don’t wait until your dogs behavior is unmanageable before contacting us! Every trainer has received this type of phone call, and it makes us want to pull our hair out: “Hi, our 4-year-old dog has just bitten someone and now we’re desperate for training.” Trainer: “When did these issues begin to surface?” Owner: “When he was about 6 months old, but now it’s gotten worse.” Start training early, and contact a professional behavior specialist at the first signs of issues.
9. I am not a magician, and I cannot put a spell on your dog to behave. Dogs don’t generalize well, so they have to learn that the rules apply in new environments. You come for lessons and your dogs behavior is now perfect in the training hall. But the point of training is that you take the skills you learned and follow through by putting in the work at home. So don’t call us and complain the training didn’t work when your dog chews up a shoe in your house– there is no magic spell.
10. Stop trying things you see on tv, hear from a friend, or read on the internet! So you watched a tv show where the trainer used a particular technique with a dog. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily something you should be applying to your own dog. Follow your trainers recommendations and not just what you see on tv or read on the internet. If training your dog was as simple as reading “how-to’s”, then we wouldn’t be in business.
For dog training in Chicago, visit Dynamic Dogs www.DynamicDogsChicago.com
BONUS (#11) We hate your dogs name. Just because you have a large breed like a Pit Bull doesn’t mean it needs a macho name- Kujo, Felony, or Capone is so overdone! Be original and choose a name with a positive connotation that is clear sounding (Pits already have a bad rap to overcome). Two-syllables makes the best dog names. No, I will not refer to your dog using his first and middle name, it’s too long.
BONUS (#12) Your current dog is not your old dog! Just because you owned a German Shepherd 15 years ago who “loved everyone and was great at the dog park,” doesn’t mean your new German Shepherd will be the same way. Sometimes you just get lucky and you get a super easy-going dog that doesn’t require much training. Your current dog is not like that, sorry.
BONUS (#13) Yes, I have trained an (INSERT BREED HERE) before. No, I have not heard that they are totally different than any other dog and require a special magical training technique that no dog trainer has ever heard of. Someone told you (BREED) cannot be trained? Well then it must be true! So why are you here again?