Imagine you’re a child, and a grownup has done something very bad to you. You’re hurt, you’re confused, you’re scared. Then you’re taken to an office where you know you’re going to have to bring up the awful memories again. The grownups at the office are all nice, but you still don’t want to be there.
But for a lot of dog owners, it’s difficult to think about your dog being away from you for any period of time. Board and Train is definitely worth it for certain dogs, to improve their quality of life and the quality of their families’ lives; but is it right for YOUR dog?
No doubt you’ve seen drama on social media about disreputable dog trainers. These posts beg the question: How do you find a good dog trainer? How do you know that the trainer has your and your dogs’ best interests in mind and will give you the best training advice?
The fact is, dog training is a completely unregulated business. Literally anyone can print out business cards and make an Instagram page and call themselves a professional dog trainer. There is no required licensing, certifications, or accreditations; there are stricter requirements for dog boarding kennels and breeders than there are for dog trainers. The industry is completely dependent on the “Buyer Beware” philosophy.
Here are some traits that are important in a good dog trainer:
I Can't Feed my dog People Food!
As a trainer who encourages using treats to train dogs, I often hear that dog owners think they shouldn’t feed “people food” to their dogs. Let’s talk about some of the common misconceptions:
Every few years...
...a new reality show about dog training pops up on TV. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with these shows. On one hand, watching a show about training helps people think more about working with their own dogs; but on the other hand, training can look very different on TV than it is in real life, and people end up with unrealistic expectations of what it’s like to train their dog.
After watching at least one episode of probably every dog training reality show that’s been aired, here are a few take-aways I hope you keep in mind as you’re watching these shows:
For kids and teachers, the end of the year is quickly approaching! Soon enough they will get out of school and a much-needed summer break from learning.
But for me, the school year is just beginning! It’s time for Continuing Education!
For me, this New Year brings… a new pet!
I recently bought myself a fish tank for a new little betta fish!
As it happens, getting an actual FISH is more complicated than it seems.
Why dogs can be aggressive around food, and what you can do to fix it.
You’re at a restaurant, treating yourself to yummy food and engaging conversation with your friends.
You’re eating slowly to fully savor your food. With only two precious bites left on your plate, you set your fork down to take a sip of your drink.
Like a flash, your perky waiter appears, asking, “May I take your plate?”
As he reaches toward your plate, somewhere in the deepest part of your mind you visualize shouting and stabbing his hand with your fork to make him leave your food and go away.
But then your rational human mind takes over, and you smile and touch the edge of your plate, politely replying, “No thanks, not quite done.” He walks away; but you make sure that next time he comes around, you have your fork in your hand to make sure he knows that you’re still eating.
If you're like most humans, you probably think that it’s rude to take away other people's possessions. We don’t steal food off each other’s plates, it’s against the law to take someone’s wallet. We have locks and security systems to protect everything from our cars and houses to our cell phones, and the bulk of our cash is secured in a bank. I’ve heard of roommate relationships that are ruined over stolen toilet paper. As kids we learn not to sit in Grandpa’s comfy chair or use Mom’s makeup without permission.
If it’s so natural to understand to respect others’ possessions, then why do I, as a dog trainer, get these calls all too often:
Summer is probably one of the very best times to get a new dog! The kids are home from school for the summer to help take care of the new addition and teach him all those important house manners. You take him on car rides with you whenever you can; maybe you even take him with you on an exciting vacation, or start a training class with him.
Every day seems to bring a new adventure for the dog with his new family!
But then seasons change; fall can be a very difficult time for dogs. Kids go back to school, parents go back to work. Schedules get busy with after school meetings and activities, and the dog, who’s used to attention and adventures, suddenly finds himself at home alone for much longer stretches of the day.
The dog becomes stressed about being home alone and starts barking, to the point where he’s bothering the neighbors. Then the destructiveness starts: breaking the crate, chewing through carpet, scratching doors and window frames, maybe even injuring himself in the process.
Does this sound familiar? If so, your dog might have Separation Anxiety.
Elizabeth Morgan, trainer and owner of Alabama Dog Academy, and proud trainer of Harper, the Canine Advocate at the Limestone Child Advocacy Center.