It’s May 7 – and it’s also National Teacher’s Day. A day to honor those hard working individuals whose life goal is to educate, challenge and inspire others to be the best they can be. A good teacher can change your world – and support you in learning and expanding your knowledge about a subject. And a good teacher, when it comes to us canines, can help you humans to better understand how to motivate us – and how to live in harmony with us – so that we are ALL happy.
My human is a firm believer that we canines should be introduced to a good dog teacher (or trainer) when we are little puppies. She believes that every pup should go to a puppy socialization class – to learn how to interact with other dogs and with other humans. A good puppy class will also teach the humans about how to support us canines in learning basic manners. Keep in mind though, that training cannot JUST take place at class – it needs to be done routinely and consistently at home! An hour a week in a puppy class will not likely result in a well-mannered dog. You NEED to do your homework.
The challenge for humans is in finding a GOOD trainer. And that’s where your homework begins. Before you sign on the dotted line to take a class, find out about the trainer. Do they use positive training methods? Do they believe in humane, science-based methods? Do they train with treats and play? Do they recommend a particular training collar? What is the typical class size? Will you get much one-on-one attention? What kind of experience/qualifications does the trainer have?
The world of dog training has exploded in the last 50 years. People understand the reasoning behind early classes, and you see all kinds of options available in most cities. But along with that comes the challenge that without any kind of “regulation” – anyone can call themselves a trainer.
Now I’m not suggesting that a trainer have a degree in Animal Behavior – but you DO need to know something about who is offering your class. How well-behaved are the trainer’s dogs? Does or has the trainer competed in obedience or agility or any dog sport with his/her dogs? Does the trainer attend workshops to learn about dog training?
There are organizations to which professional trainers can belong:
Beyond all of this, you also need to LIKE your trainer. You know of course, that a good trainer isn’t training your DOG – a good trainer is training YOU. And if you don’t feel comfortable with the training methods – don’t stay! My human knows of horror stories where methods are not humane – and she has also seen people train without rewards because we dogs “should just do something because you tell us to”. Some argue that treats are overused. I do agree that treats CAN be overused – but I also ask – would you go to work without being paid? It’s all about reward and positive reinforcement. And knowing WHEN and how much reward to give. Some dogs don’t LIKE treats – so then you need to find what does motivate them. Maybe it’s a toy. Or a tug on a rope. But a good trainer will help you find that positive motivator and will show you how to use it with your dog – so you get a happy, obedient dog.
So cheers today to teachers of canines – and teachers of humans too. You are SO important – and you do change our world!!!
Have a good one. Peace and paws up.
Seizure free days: 5