Your big Labrador retriever Cooper is a little too rambunctious for his own good. While Cooper loves to horse around with your family, and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, you’re tired of being pulled down the street when you take Cooper for a walk. Your Lawrenceville veterinarian has recommended that you sign Cooper up for basic obedience training, so you’ve asked a local dog trainer if you can observe a class before signing on the dotted line. When you walk in the door, you’re encouraged to see a sign requiring proof of dogs’ vaccinations, as this helps to protect Cooper against contagious canine diseases.
Because Cooper is an accomplished escape artist, make sure the training facility’s doors are secured against his or other rebellious students’ jailbreaks. The trainer should have swept the floor, removed clutter or debris from the classroom, and tidied up the bathroom for pet owners’ use. She should also anticipate that Cooper might have an accident during class, and she should keep disinfectant and plenty of paper towels on hand.
Even though the trainer works hard to teach Cooper a desired behavior, her efforts will have more lasting impact if you or another family member partners with Cooper for each training exercise. It’s also helpful if the trainer has six dogs or less in her class, as this manageable number allows her to provide each dog with some one-on-one attention.
Dog trainers typically use constructive training aids such as harnesses, flat collars, head halters, doggie toys, and small treats for rewards. There’s no place for prong collars, choke collars, or electronic collars in a well-run obedience class.
Nix the Punishment
A confident, skilled dog trainer can communicate with her canine students, and can command them to execute desired behaviors, without yelling at or berating them. Also, there’s no need for her to jerk a dog’s leash; or to kick or hit a trusting pooch who just can’t seem to pay attention.
Once the class has ended, ask the trainer if she’s a member of one or more dog trainers’ organizations. These professional groups encourage, or require, their trainer members to complete specific continuing education standards; this means they’re likely familiar with the latest training techniques. After all, you want Cooper to receive top-notch obedience training so he can greet his Lawrenceville vet like a canine gentleman.