Learn what to look for in training for your pet.
Winston loves running off with fuzzy slippers. Bailey enjoys digging holes in the backyard. Fluffy enjoys getting into the garbage can when left unattended.
Sometimes our pets develop some habits we’d like them to break out of … but we don’t always know how to help them. Whether it’s a behavior we don’t like or simply learning the basics, Orange County Certified Professional Dog Trainer Sherry Nativo, from All About Training Dogs (www.allabouttrainingdogs.com) recommends that all dogs get some form of training.
“One of the biggest mistakes that dog owners make is thinking that their dog thinks like a human,” she said. “Even worse is that they think their dog thinks like an adult human. When that happens they make the mistake of using the wrong training methods or discipline procedures. Investing in dog training saves time, money and stress in the long run.”
Nativo offers some advice on what to look for in training for your dog:
What kinds of training is there for dogs?
“There are three dog training categories that all dogs fit into:
- Puppy socialization is to help build your pup’s confidence since developmentally they are more curious than fearful until they are 13 weeks old.
- The second category of dog training is manner or obedience class, which teaches an action like, sit, stay or come. This is the most common and what most people think about when you talk about dog training.
- The third category is called behavior modification. This training program is for dogs that bark and lunge, bite, snap, growl, are shy or have panic attacks—separation anxiety—when home alone. These problems cannot be solved by teaching a dog to sit and therefore requires a special training plan developed by a certified professional dog trainer.”
What are some do’s and don’ts in picking a class or trainer?
“Always look for a certified professional dog trainer that uses 100 percent positive reinforcement. These dog trainers can be found on the CPDT website (www.ccpdt.org) or the Karen Pryor [Academy] (https://karenpryoracademy.com). These professional organizations require passing an exam, letters of recommendations, continued education, following standards such as the Humane Hierarchy and signing a code of ethics.
- Look for certifications.
- Look for reward-based training.
- Dominant-based training.
- Punishment-based training that uses prong collars, choke chains and e-collar/shock collars.”
What are the most successful methods of training for most dogs?
“Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train a dog. Research has found that using a clicker to train your dog increases how quickly they learn and how effective they learn by 61 percent. Reinforcement-based training—positive reinforcement—is used with all species of animals including sharks, lions, bears, dolphins, whales and even butterflies.”
What issues do you see arise?
“Most dogs get into trouble when they are bored, just like a child without a video game. They will entertain themselves by chewing, barking, etc. All dogs need two 20- to 30-minute walks a day. Using interactive food toys, such as stuffed Kongs, or snuffle mats can help [the] dog when the kids go back to school. It’s good to remember that dogs were bred to hunt, herd, sniff and forage all day long. Now that we’ve domesticated them, we need to add stimulation back into their lives.
Dog training is like sending your child to school. You wouldn’t expect your son to know how to read if no one taught him how, right? The same is true for dogs. Responsible dog owners know that it’s their job to teach their dog how to live in their house, humanely.
Reactivity, barking and lunging at dogs or people is the most common problem I see in my training business. It makes up for 85 percent of the calls and complaints. This is, typically, caused by inappropriate socialization and fear. It can be effectively treated so that pet parents can enjoy walking their dogs.”
Why is research important in finding the right trainer?
“Pet parents should do their due diligence when finding a dog trainer. There are a lot of choices and options in Orange County, but a positive reinforcement trainer is who they should hire.
Many dog owners don’t ask how the trainer will train the dog and they end up with more problems when the trainer uses a shock collar. Dog training is unregulated, which means that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer without any education or experience. Using a dog trainer with the initials CPDT or KPA after their name ensures humane standards and practices will be used.
All dog trainers should be certified, carry liability insurance and demonstrate how to use positive reinforcement.”