How to Choose a Professional Dog Training Service
A large part of the dog problems here in the North Shore and North Eastern Massachusetts are directly related to the lack of responsible dog ownership. Establishing early guidelines regarding what is and is not acceptable behavior sets the ground rules for a lifelong, controlled companion. Also, learning how to communicate with your pet should be a must for dog owners. But learning to speak "dog" is sometimes more difficult then it seems. This is where professional dog training comes in.
In essence, dog trainers bridge the communication gap between pets and people…between canines and their caregivers, which leads to a more enjoyable bond between owners—as well as the community as a whole—and animals.
To find an effective and reliable North Shore dog training service, there are several things you should consider:
A good dog trainer will select specific techniques and dog training styles that are not only compatible with your dog's temperament, but with yours as well. Every dog is different, and some dogs respond better to certain training approaches. And what works for a rottweiler won't necessarily work for a toy poodle. Recognizing and understanding individual breed traits even in regards to potty training is important to the success of any dog training program.
Experience is paramount, but don't just judge a trainer's skill by the number of years in the profession. Instead, evaluate a dog training professional by what he or she has done in the "dog world,” and most importantly, what word of mouth and previous clients are saying about their dog training experience.
When you pay for dog or puppy training, make sure you are paying for results…not a specified number of hours or sessions. The best dog training experts know that every dog/owner team is different, and some need more time to learn than others. This is why Beyond the Leash dog training offers programs customizable to meet the needs of you and your dog, with flexible session lengths and fees set based on benchmarks as opposed to a set number of sessions. We base our pricing on every problem from housebreaking to aggression.
Secondly, your goal should be to work with the best dog training professional you can find, not haggle over price. In other words, you want reasonable, not dirt-cheap. If you think about it, dog training is like any other business in that no one wants to work for the least amount of money possible; dog trainers who are charging bargain basement prices are doing so because they can’t command industry standard rates if their training isn’t up to par. It's better to spend your money intelligently on a top-notch dog training program from the onset, than to waste money chasing a bargain and then have to pay again for good dog training down the line.
4. Group versus individual dog training
Many clients ask, “What about group dog training classes?” The reality is that trainers who are looking to make the most money for their time love group dog training sessions, as it’s certainly easier to earn if 15 people are paying for one hour. But North Shore dog training professionals who are most concerned about results avoid this for beginning dogs and handlers, because the level of distraction present in a group situation is seldom beneficial during the initial learning process.
Just like in any sport, private lessons pay off; when professional dog trainers teach their own dogs, they rarely do it in a group dog training setting. Instead, they use one-on-one dog training, giving their dog all of their attention, and introducing new exercises and rules in a distraction-free environment. In essence, a good dog trainer will teach first, train second, and proof with distractions once the dog truly understands what is expected. At Beyond the Leash, we offer individual dog training exclusively and endorse group dog training only for maintenance purposes.
5. The meet-‘n’-greet
You don’t want to commit to long-term dog training without an initial session. Since dog training is such a personal process involving three different dispositions—you, the trainer, and your dog—you want to spend at least an hour-long session getting to know one another and making sure it’s a fit. So while a free, 15-minute meeting might seem like a bargain, it’s really more of a financial risk in the long run—once you’ve spent hundreds (or more!) with a dog trainer you didn’t realize didn’t measure up upon a quick hello.
At Beyond the Leash North Shore dog training, however, we also believe you should get something out of this preliminary meeting. Because of this, we start all our dog training with a Solutions Session. During this session, we come to your home, evaluate your pet, and give you instant tips and techniques to immediately help alleviate your dog’s obedience issue(s). Should you desire, we also assist you in putting together a dog training program that works with your goals, grievances, schedule, and budget.
6. Career and professional dog trainers versus hired help (aka—why you should avoid pet-store dog training programs)
Pet stores offer group dog training (see above) and occasionally individual dog training. And since it’s cheap, it sometimes sounds like a good idea. It’s not. Dog training is both an art and a science. Like other professions, there is NO way one can become a professional dog trainer without apprenticing under several experienced dog trainers, with varied backgrounds, over a sustained period of time. When it comes to pet-store programs, there is minimal screening and very few requirements for becoming an in-house dog training instructor. In fact, in most cases, the dog trainers you'll encounter have been recruited through a newspaper ad and have very little hands-on experience.
Furthermore, since pet-store dog training is inexpensive, they can’t afford to pay trainers much above minimum wage…which means the pool of applicants are beginners or hobby-trainers, not proven dog training experts. They are certainly not professionals who spend their time immersed in the industry, constantly surrounded by animals, and up-to-date with the newest studies and skills.