How do You Know if You’ve Picked the Right Dog Trainer?

“By rejecting all thoughts of dominance and force, replacing them with respect, understanding of the world through their eyes and the desire to get our dogs to want to work with us of their own free will, we are empowered to have stress free happy dogs who will respond to our requests and choose to work with us”. ~Jan Fennell

I absolutely love that quote!  I had an interesting thing happen on a consult recently that brought this up for me again.  As we were wrapping up and I was preparing to leave, my client thanked me for coming and said, “I like this type of training.  It speaks truth to me.”  With all the different methods of dog training out there, how do you find the one that is best for you and your dog?  My advice to you would be to listen with your heart and it will speak the truth.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried every type of dog training there is.  There is some good to be found in all methods and I have picked up useful bits and pieces over the years.  I have taken courses as an anonymous client to see various methods being used. The most honest answer would be, “if any part of the training causes you to feel uncomfortable or you see your dog feeling fear or anxiety, then you need to run.  FAST!

It never ceases to amaze me how we can find ourselves in an awkward or uncomfortable situation but rather than to make a scene, cause a stink, or in any way draw attention to ourselves, we will just sit there and endure.  I briefly talked about this very thing on my Facebook page recently but here is a good example of what I’m talking about:  A sweet client purchased a puppy from a dog trainer here in the Valley.  The trainer agreed to do some puppy training at about four months of age.  My client arrived at the training facility and immediately the trainer threw a choke-collar on the puppy and tugged him to come to her.  It made my client uncomfortable but she didn’t dare say anything for fear of offending the trainer.  Her puppy would get excited and jump on the trainer and at one point the trainer took the puppy by the paw and bent his finger backwards (yep, you read that correctly) until he yelped and then she said, “Well mark my word, he won’t be doing that again”.  My client still didn’t dare leave for fear of offending the trainer!  I’m not criticizing the client.   She was doing her best and didn’t know what to do in that situation.  She was trusting the expert.

I witnessed a YouTube video of a local trainer here in the Valley.  A woman brought in a German Shepherd who had anxiety and would bark.  The trainer put a muzzle on the Shepherd that was so tight he could barely get his tongue out (which is how a dog sweats). The trainer wrapped the leash around his fist a couple of times and would yank the Shepherd in every direction.  He had his hand around the dog’s snout and as he walked he would repeatedly shove the dog’s face into his thigh in an effort to teach the dog to heal.  Wait, WHAT?!?! It was obvious  this dog was scared out of his mind!  Sure, anyone can train a dog if the main objective is fear.  What we need to strive for is to have a dog who CHOOSES to follow us based on love and respect.  Believe me when I tell you there is not a greater sight to behold than to work with a dog who has been taught with fear and then to have the opportunity to turn that dog around because you won over his mind!  It’s a WOW moment!

In summing up, my friends, listen to your heart when it comes to picking a trainer for your dog.  You often only get one chance and your dog can quickly be ruined.  Unfortunately, you will spend the rest of his life trying to rebuild what was taken.  If the trainer’s approach doesn’t sit right in your gut, find someone else. ~C

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