Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Trainer is Just as Important as the Methods...Dog Training in Milton

An important and critical part of owning a dog is training him or her to become a good family member and a polite member of society. This is accomplished through simple obedience lessons that can help to greatly improve your dog's behaviour around the house and in public places. A key aspect of training is finding someone who you feel comfortable with, someone who listens to your needs, someone who is fair in their methods to both the dog and yourself, and someone who is willing to devise a program specifically for you and your dog. A good trainer can help you through the learning process and can also help you take your training to the next level if your are willing and able to advance.

Many people choose a trainer or training facility because of location, or solely rely on word of mouth from others without actually checking out the trainer's techniques, methods and practices for themselves. There are some simple ways to get an idea about what your potential trainers methods, and the trainer or facility should be more than willing to accommodate your request. If a facility holds group classes, ask to sit in as an observer during the training. This can help to give you an over all picture of techniques, personality, dog and people skills that this particular trainer holding the class has. Don't be afraid to ask questions after class is out, or raise any concerns that you may have with the trainer before you sign up. If the trainer doesn't offer group classes, ask to set up a time when you can call or email and obtain information on how the trainer works. Request an initial one-hour private lesson (charges will apply for this) to get an overall picture of those who don't offer their services in class settings. This will help you to find out if he or she is right for what you are looking for in a dog trainer.

Ask for references from individuals who were looking for the same results as you are. Ask for the trainers qualifications; are they competing in and sports or activates (and doing fairly well) with their own dogs? Have they had any sort of formal schooling? How long have they been involved with dogs? How long have they been training for (their own dogs included)? Ask what their main training method involves: clicker, positive motivation only, reward and correction methods, compulsion methods only, and choose someone that you think will best compliment you and your dog. If you feel at all uncomfortable with the trainer or their techniques - DO NOT use them. Training should be a fun learning experience for both you and your dog, and you should never be made to feel uncomfortable during class or private training. If you think that your dog is uncomfortable with a particular trainer - DO NOT use them. Training is stressful to a dog, regardless of where it takes place, but adding more stress because a trainer seems to make a dog uncomfortable will only inhibit learning, and your dog may come to associate training with stress only, and this can be detrimental to the process.

Find a trainer who you are comfortable with, who is willing to always keep an open mind and try new techniques if the first or second does not work; not every type of training works the same for every dog. Each dog is an individual, and must be looked at as such when devising a training program for a particular dog. Find one who relates well to not only the dogs, but to the handler as well. Dog training involves an abundant amount of people training, and if the trainer can not relate with the handler or is lacking in people skills, it is going to make it that much more difficult for you and your dog to learn. Find one who is knowledgeable about canines and their behaviour and has some experience in the area that you are looking to train for, be it formal obedience, agility, rally-o or just family pet.Don't be afraid to ask questions, and always keep in mind, training should be a fun process for you and your dog, but you should also expect to come away with knowledge, new ideas, techniques and a better understanding of your canine companion. These will all help you on the road to having and maintaining a wonderful family companion or your next competition dog.

Julie Deans © 2007

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Picking Your New Friend - Dog Training in Milton

Puppy picking is a very exciting occasion. It's less stressful than giving birth, but can be more stressful in the aftermath. Picking a puppy can be a tough decision for families who want to add a new member to their household, but are not sure where to begin.

Well, I say it's always best to begin at the beginning ... so let's start. The best thing to do when you think Rover would complete your family, is to make a list of what breeds you are interested in and why. Why the why you ask? Simple, you need to be aware of why you are choosing the canine that you've got your eye on. Is it because you like their style, and their eyes bring out the colour of your spring wardrobe? If so, perhaps move on to the next breed that you like because their temperament suits your life style. Many times puppies are picked solely based on looks, and though this may work for some, it can be a nightmare for others.

Temperament is key when choosing a pup that will best suit your family, and this is not just true of puppies, this is also the case when choosing an adult dog for companionship. Temperament is essentially who the dog or pup in question is or will be. If you don't want a shy dog, stay away from those who react badly to noise, who cower when touched, or who want nothing to do with you when you are pleading to pet them. If you aren't into the dominant dogs, stay away from those who decide your leg would make a good mounting board or those who thrash and struggle in your arms and refuse to calm down.

Temperament is what you should look at in order to match the dog/puppy to your family. If you are an active family who loves jogging and hiking, don't get a laid back, lazy dog. If you are a family who enjoys couch time and potato chips, grab the dog who enjoys a good nap in the mornings and afternoon.

Be aware that there are breeders out there, if you choose to go that route, that put temperament as number 3 or 4 on their list of priorities for breeding. Ask to see the parents of the litter, as this will be a good indication of what may lie ahead for you. Adult dogs are easier to assess because what you see is basically what you get, but be aware that dogs are contextual creatures and may act different in different environments.

In my humble opinion, temperament should be right up there as number one, beside health, as the most important aspect to look at when putting two dogs together for a breeding. Shoty temperaments or temperaments that don't match the families that picked them, are reasons why many dogs are taken to pounds and rescues. So if you keep temperament as #1 on your list, you should be able to avoid that problem.

Obviously health is a going concern for puppy buyers. Choose a breeder who screens for health issues prevalent in that breed, and who uses proper venues to register their dogs health. Ask to see health certificate from OFA, OVC or PennHip. Research what the issues are in the breed you are interested in, and go in with knowledge rather than ignorance. Don't let the breeder pull the wool over your eyes with statements like, "oh, the certificates are in the mail." or "oh, the vet said my dogs are healthy.".

And make sure that the breeder in question will offer you a minimun 2 year genetic health guarantee covering anything that may come up as hereditary in your new pup. For those going the route of rescuing a canine companion, there is little that can be ensured about the dogs potential health, but make sure that the dog is up to date vaccines, has been heartworm tested, flee tested and over all looks well. It is important to take any dog or puppy to your vet right away to confirm that he or she is in good condition. Most health guarantees require that the dog is taken within the first week in order for the guarantee to be valid. Keep in mind though that guarantees and health testing are not the be-all-end-all, and issues can arise, even from two perfectly healthy, tested individuals.

This is a huge decision for families and should not be taken lightly, so at the very least, be aware of the above in order to better facilitate your decision making. Over all, be prepared with your own research before you decide which puppy to adopt. By being aware of health and temperament, you increase the chance of choosing a dog that will suit your family and be healthy for years to come.

Check out the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (developed by Wendy Volhard) for indications about what kind of temperament you pup may have as an adult. Please note, this test is a good indicator of potential temperament, however, due to environments that pups may be placed in, changes during growth and amount of training/socialization a pup may receive, results are not guaranteed.

By Julie Deans ©2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Welcome to Common Sense dog training

Welcome to this, my dog training blog, where I will be focusing on providing information for the average dog owner to understand. Most people are not looking for the next agility super star or obedience grand champion, rather, they are looking for information pertinent to average dog ownership.

Common sense is my approach, and is key in my training methods, in order to create a down to earth, easy to understand style that anyone with a dog should be able to comprehend.

I won't be going into extreme detail on my methods, as I will save that for those who are interested in taking training sessions with me, but you will find some important, interesting and relevant information here, and hopefully it will assist you in gaining a greater understanding of your canine companion.

For more information on myself and the training I offer please check out the tabs at the top of the page. Those interested in training sessions can contact me at: