Monday, January 25, 2010

"Well, my neighbor said . . . ."

I've discovered that if you ever get a puppy or dog suddenly everyone you know with a dog is a dog trainer. You'll get advice from neighbors, cousins, carpool friends -- you name it, everyone will know something. Of course as a dog trainer this makes my skin crawl. I sarcastically retort to a client when I hear, "So my neighbor has had Labs for 20 years and he says . . . ." "Oh? I didn't know your neighbor was a dog trainer?!" "Oh, he's not he's just had them forever . . ." Exactly. While someone who has had your breed, or dogs in general, "forever" that doesn't make them proficient in dog behavior and training. Your lovely neighbor may even have some of the best trained dogs in a 5 mile radius but it still doesn't mean he's going to know everything. I've had the same sinus infection over and over again for years but I still don't claim to be a doctor. I also have changed a tire a hundred times but I'm still not a mechanic.

Every dog is different and training has to be approached properly depending on the dog and situation. One wrong move could mean lots of "un-doing" to go in the right direction. Plus, if you are already working with a trainer and then begin to apply training that your trainer may not have advised you could very easily confuse your dog at the least, or screw up things royally, depending on what the situation is and what you try to apply.

If you're having a moment where you think you need help "now" try to call your trainer. If you can't get a hold of them then put your dog in his/her crate and wait until you get some advice or your trainer can tell you what to do until he/she can come assess the situation. Don't try to wing it, you may regret it later!

Best laid plans are to seek the advice of a doggie professional that is proficient in dog behavior and training. And contrary to what some TV "pros" say you have to be a dog trainer and be good at "rehabilitating" dogs. They go hand in hand. If you can't train a dog you can't rehabilitate a dog. So find someone who doesn't use physical force for any reason what-so-ever, even if your dog is aggressive (or rather, especially if your dog is aggressive!).

Bottom line: don't try anything at home without meeting a dog professional in person, don't rely on TV or the neighbor!

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