Dog trainers - Why? Where? What?
At a specific point of the interactions with dogs you have wondered what it is like to train with professional dog trainer? This article has the objective to share my experience with dog trainers and to help you with questions you might have for their profession :)
First why would you need a dog trainer? You are an adult and can fix everything. This is true, but as with babies the dog is a unique being which has its specifics. It is better someone shows you which buttons are for what and then you can start operating the heavy machinery.
If this is not enough remember the specific scenario where you saw your dog bark at cars, dig wholes in your backyard and you did not know what to do. Well, the professional dog trainer can help you exactly in such situations.
There are a log of people out there who are saying they can help you and your dog with whatever endevour you are up against. The first place you should search for a dog trainer is your local dog club. They can give you a lot of feedback for good dog trainers. Rely always on the positive feedback and search for understanding and clear communication with the trainer. After all they would be like a teacher to your dog.
In my experience I had and still have the pleasure to work with very good dog trainers. Also once you identify them you will be able to see bad trainers as well. Below I have divided the dog trainers into three groups depending on the age of the dog and the level of competence you are after:
- BASIC - for dogs from 0-6 months and beginners level of competence. Example: house obedience, recall, sit and lay down commands.
- INTERMEDIATE - for dogs from 6-18months and advanced level of competence. Example: BH exam, competitive heeling, recall with sit, execution of commands on first try.
- EXPERT - for dogs above 1 year and professional level of competence. Example: protection training, IPO/Schutzhund.
What to expect from each group? The BASIC group will give you ground of the house called trained dog. If you wish to move forward you can contact the INTERMEDIATE group to help you decide if your dog is good for protection, search, hunting, agility or just a pet. The EXPERT will give you the tools to bring out the best out of your dog depending on the direction it is capable of going and you are willing to go.
The best dog trainer for you is the one who is willing to provide you with the needed individual attention and give you the advises for the level you want to acheive. The worst mistake to do is go to a trainer who is charging $500 per month and is promising your dog will be able to speak after one month. Everything takes time and it is good to have clear idea what you are after.
In this case you can use the SMART methodology:
- Specific (what we want to learn?)
- Measurable (when is the lesson learnt?)
- Achievable (can my dog do that?)
- Realistic (do we need that?)
- Time based (what time does it take?)
Last, but not least when to go? In most cases the dogs are ready for the outside world once they turn up 3 months, so you can start from there with the BASIC level. Only INTERMEDIATE and EXPERT trainers can help your dog rehabilitate if this is the case.
Nero went first to a dog trainer working with guide dogs for the blind. We spent there 6 months for the foundations of our training. Currently we are working with INTERMEDIATE dog trainer and testing if Nero is suitable for real protection or only sport protection. Cane Corso is a breed who is still growing mentally until the age of three (3 years). We still have time to see where the dog has the greatest potential and desire to work.