Benefits of formal dog training

Formal training means regular sessions in a structured, “classroom” setting, either with a professional instructor or in a training club. Formal training may also include regular sessions on your own with your dog, but you shouldn’t forget the importance of socialization and working outside the home or back yard. It also means the dog isn’t going to be the only one receiving the training….

– An Ounce of Prevention

Formal training for your puppy, especially if you are a new pet-parent, will help you to prevent many problems that can be experienced by even experienced owners. Puppy classes provide safe, effective socialization, which is critical part of a dog’s behavioral development.

Even if you adopt an older dog, you may prevent a minor irritation (barking, nipping, jumping, refusing to come when called) from becoming a major problem.

Each dog is different, and will have or may develop different quirks and idiosyncrasies. Early formal dog training may prevent these problems from surfacing, or you may learn how to properly manage issues that are instinctual or ingrained.

– Getting Out of a Rut

Some dogs’ behavioral problems are really caused and are often left unchecked because owners can’t see how THEY are actually reinforcing the bad behavior, or not correctly enforcing the right behavior when we get it. It’s very easy to get locked into doing the same thing over and over again, forgetting to try something new or even just taking a break. Having someone else watch you work with your dog may catch something in moments that has been plaguing you for months.

– Expertise

A good trainer has a lot of expertise – training experience, education and resources, as well as the ability to train dogs AND humans. With the best will in the world, not all owners can train their dog in the basics, either because they don’t have the time or the focus, or because they fell in love with a dog who has a training problem or two.

An experienced trainer, highly skilled owner or training club member will have the knowledge and the skill to help you over basic and unusual problems, as well as providing encouragement and support.

– Neutral Party

It’s just human nature to put emotion into our problems, especially when we feel let down by our own abilities or decisions, or by others – even felling let down by our dogs. So when we have a problem or two (or more) with our dogs, we react with anger or frustration, we don’t see available opportunities or we just give up. A trainer or other, more experienced owners can help you get past the emotions to find the solutions you need to make your training program a success.

– Interaction with Other Dogs and Humans

Socialization is an important part of a dog’s training, especially for puppies, but with the right guidance, socialization can help older dogs too. In some cases, another dog may actually help with the training, in ways a human never could. When working with other dogs and humans, it’s very important that everyone (dog and human) are playing by the same rules – no jumping, no hitting, no biting, no growling – and everyone is kept under control.

Tips for formal training:

– Find the right trainer for your dog.

– Beware of excessively harsh training methods – all dogs respond better to kindness than aggression.

– Beware of happy-clappy, ‘packaged’ training methodologies – some training problems require more than an off-the-shelf training plan.

– Get references on any trainer you consider.

– Never give up – all dogs want to learn and please us, if physically possible.

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