Train My Dog Myself

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So, you think your dog doesn't need training? We've heard it all before.

Let's address each argument one by one:

  • "My dog is great and doesn't need training."

    In the first place, training is more about teaching you what to do than it is your dog. Secondly, training is about showing your dog how to communicate back and forth with you in terms they can understand, then getting them to listen reliably time after time without repeating yourself or getting frustrated with each other. Every dog can benefit from this. Most importantly, it could save their life or avoid serious injury. For example, say your dog pulls away from you and chases a squirrel down the sidewalk. It's the ability to say "Front!" and have him run back to you without hesitation. It can also lead to a lifetime of fun games and exercises that keep him mentally and physically stimulated. Plus, training in general is fun for both of you to do and is quality time that builds your relationship.

  • "But he already knows how to sit."

    This is like saying "My child knows 2 + 2 so doesn't need more math." Sitting is the easy part and is something that most dogs can do with very little training. It's especially easy when you're in the kitchen, offering a treat, and there are no distractions. Actual training goes way beyond this level and gets into much harder exercises such as walking politely at your side without pulling, going through an agility course, or being left at home while you run some errands. Sitting is just a foundational skill that paves the way for many more essential skills in your dog's life.

  • "We've already been through a training class - we don't need more."

    Our training courses aren't just about learning how to sit or walk politely. We also offer advanced courses that teach very difficult skills. Plus, everyone can stand to brush up on some skills every now and then. We can almost guarantee you'll learn things that you haven't learned before, because every trainer is different.

  • "But he's just a little puppy!"

    Trust us on this one - the earlier the better. Puppies actually learn the easiest because they are not "unlearning" behaviors that may be ingrained in older dogs. They have a very high capacity to learn, and you will be amazed at what they can do by the end of the course.

  • "But I'm thinking of sending her away to boot camp."

    There's no such thing as "2 weeks to the perfect dog" any more than there is "2 weeks to the perfect child." We don't necessarily recommend boot camps for most dogs. First, the most important element in the training equation is you. You can't possibly learn what you need to know just from some tips from the boot camp when you pick up your dog. This means that because you likely won't use all the right techniques once you get him home, he may lose a lot of what he learned in a short period of time. Secondly, in our humble opinion, you don't know what goes on in boot camps behind closed doors, and many places use dominance methods such as shock collars, yanking leashes, and so forth - these methods are not necessary. Third, you'd be missing out on all the fun of a group class, and dog ownership is about having a fun and worthwhile partnership.

  • "I just don't think he can do all those things."

    Don't kid yourself - all dogs have a high capacity to learn a wide variety of skills. They just need the right motivation, positive environment, and consistency. You'll be surprised at how much they can learn, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain.

  • "It just seems like a lot of money..."

    We're talking about a lifetime skill you both will have. It will alleviate many frustrations, could save your dog's life, and will help both of you maximize your relationship. You'll spend a lot of money on your dog over time, but this will be the best investment of all.

  • "I'm training him myself at home."

    This is great and we applaud you, but for most people, it's very incomplete. It's like saying "I'm going to teach my child how to play baseball" instead of signing him up for a team. Unless you're a trainer or have been through extensive classes in the past, you will likely not know all that you need to know to pass along to your dog. There are also major benefits from going through a group class - you get to hear the other peoples' questions, the trainer can give you immediate feedback on your technique, plus there are group exercises that can't be taught at home, such as having all the dogs line up in a row, then one runs past all of them while they all sit still.

  • "I've had dogs all my life - I know what I'm doing."

    Many people who take a class quickly find out that their methods are incomplete and outdated. One reason is that training theories have changed a lot over the years, and what was widely accepted in the past isn't necessarily so now. Our trainers keep up on the research and bring a vast wealth of that knowledge into their classes.

  • "But he's so little! He's no problem at all."

    First, little dogs can be a big handful - for example, they can pee on the rug, bark at every other dog who goes by, or chew the legs off your furniture. Second, training establishes two-way communication that he can understand. By doing what you want, he'll be rewarded and live a happier life. Third, training is fun for you and your dog. Even if he has mastered the basics, there is a lifetime of other training aspects such as agility, dance, games, and other courses.

  • "He's untrainable!"

    Nonsense! Every dog is trainable. It just takes the right motivation, positive environment, consistency, and technique. The most important factor in his success is you. You have to practice a lot at home, at the park, at other peoples' home, etc. under a variety of circumstances.

  • "He's too old."

    Every dog can learn new tricks, regardless of their age. It may take a little more work to break them of bad habits, but given the right motivation and environment, anything is possible when training a dog.

  • "We went somewhere else for training and he didn't learn anything."

    This could be for a lot of reasons. Maybe the training techniques at the other place weren't effective. Maybe there were too many dogs in the class and he was too distracted. Maybe you didn't practice enough at home. Maybe other people in his life (such as your spouse) weren't consistent. Maybe you sent him to a boot camp and he lost everything he had learned. Maybe the trainer didn't explain things very well. What we know is that our training program works, as long as you pull your weight.

  • "She's very strong-willed and I think she will only respond to methods such as shock collars or dominance."

    Dominance methods are popular among many trainers and books, but we don't believe they are as effective as positive reinforcement. Think about it - as a child, were you more likely to obey your parents if they said "Do it or else you'll get a spanking!" or "Do it and you'll get a sticker!" In a fear-based environment, you obey begrudgingly. In a reward-based environment, you obey because you want to. By wanting to do something instead of being forced to do it, you are far more likely to do it reliably and happily. This is the defining difference between the two styles.

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