People welcome dogs into their lives for many reasons. Some want to selflessly rescue dogs from poor situations and provide a forever home in which the animal can be loved and grow, while others may want to provide a companion for their kids and to teach lessons of devotion and responsibility.
Sixty-seven percent of households in the United States own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. Ipsos says approximately 35 percent of Canadian households have a dog. While most dogs are inherently affable, affectionate creatures, not every puppy is obedient right out of the gate. Many dogs exhibit behaviors that may seem cute when dogs are young, but become problematic as the animal ages. Thanks to a wealth of readily available information, both online and in print, many dog owners can address minor issues on their own. However, when certain behaviors persist, a professional trainer may need to be brought in.
Certified dog trainers have been taught how to recognize and interpret the unique language of dogs and educate others so owners can recognize how to interact with their pets more effectively. Dogs are committed to pleasing their owners, but they may not always realize what their owners are asking. Trainers can help bridge this gap more quickly.
Trainers also are more likely than owners to see problem behaviors from an unbiased perspective. A pet owner may think their dog is acting out or being spiteful, while a trainer can explain that isn’t the case and that boredom or another factor may be behind the behavior. Putting problems in an objective light can make it easier to find solutions.
According to the California-based Break It Down Dog Training, if more pet owners were proactive about seeking professional training from the start of the pet-owner relationship, that could preempt many of the problem behaviors that tend to spring up.
Trainers may specialize in treating certain behaviors, so it’s a good idea to seek a recommendation from a veterinarian or speak with a rescue or humane society group. Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends who have had success also is a smart idea.
A number of behavioral problems may indicate a trainer is needed. These behaviors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Resource guarding of food or toys
- Separation anxiety
- Pulling on the leash
- Pica, or eating inappropriate items
- Jumping up on people
- Nipping and growling
- Severe fears and shyness
Many trainers can resolve common problems in a few sessions and give dog owners innovative techniques to try.