Buzz Woof & Meow: Finding the Right Trainer for Your Puppy

— Vanessa Davis, Dirty Dogs Spa & Boutique • January 2017

Brady - training

PHOTO BY VANESSA DAVIS

Many of you know Taylor, my 8-year-old golden retriever who is always on his best behavior.  Add one 14-week-old golden retriever puppy, and we have “almost chaos” at our home – a daily reminder that knowing and having the right tools and trainer in your life will make life much easier for owners and pets.

With January being National Train Your Dog Month, here are some tips for everyone who received a puppy over the holidays.

Whether you have a purebred puppy or a shelter rescue, you will need to train your pup to be on his or her best behavior. When your pet, just like your child, knows what to expect from you and you know what to expect from your pet, the transition to “pet parent” becomes an enjoyable time.

Unless you have a lot of experience working with or training dogs, you will want to work with a professional trainer. As with daycare facilities or sitters, you will want to take the time to interview your trainers. Look at their training backgrounds, references and experience. Fetching the Perfect Dog Trainer by Katenna Jones is a perfect book to help you select the right trainer for your pet’s needs. In the book, Jones guides you to properly evaluate and interview a prospective trainer as well as points out red flags to watch for based on your interview.

One tip I always stress to my clients who are interviewing potential trainers is to look for the use of positive reinforcement versus negative reinforcement in training. When training your dog, treat positive behaviors with positive rewards. Negative behaviors should be guided into positive actions.

According to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, “use of aggression to get what they want” doesn’t mean dogs are displaying dominance, but rather they are showing anxiety-based behaviors, which will only increase if dogs are faced with verbal and/or physical threats from their human owners. Basing interactions with a dog on dominance is harmful to the dog-human relationship and leads to further stress, anxiety and aggression from the dog, which also learns to fear the owner. Keep this in mind when you think about the use of shock collars or shock fences for your pet.

Dogs are pleasers. If they are treated kindly and guided properly, they will reward us with their very best behavior.

Vanessa Davis is the owner of Dirty Dogs Spa and Boutique in Wake Forest. All products mentioned in this article are all-natural products and are sold at Dirty Dogs Spa and Boutique.