Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Train Like An Olympian
One of the discussions that seems to happen quite regularly among us dogs at the dog park is how to choose a personal trainer. Lots of us go to the park with our humans and part of the time there is spent on training exercises. I noticed there appears to be several different methods being used.
I thought I would ask my friend Eric The Amazing Dog Training Man what advice he would be able to share about how to make sure your human chooses the best trainer for you.
Zeva: So, Eric. What should a dog look for when choosing a personal trainer?
Eric: First, I'd like to thank you for interviewing me. I feel very honored. Choosing the right trainer is important. I think a good trainer is experienced, patient, positive and most importantly fun. A good trainer will help the owner train their dog using positive methods. I would also recommend going and watching the trainer do a class. This will give you the best indication of what the trainer is like.
Zeva: Do all trainers use the same methods?
Eric: Nooooooooooooo!!! Let me share a very popular quote among dog trainers: "The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is what the third one is doing wrong." Being in a room of dog trainers can be worse than being in a room full of Democrats and Republicans.
Zeva: BOL. How do I know which training method is best for me? After all, I'm very special.
Eric: Well Zeva, I've been in this game for a long time. I have trained dogs for security and police work, dogs for deaf people, worked with and helped thousands (millions if you count my YouTube videos) and I can tell you that ALL dogs should be trained using positive methods. When you train using negative methods you always have side effects that will harm the dog. You can't go wrong using positive training methods.
Zeva: Interesting. How old should a dog before starting training and when is a dog too old to be trained?
Eric: I start training as young as eight weeks old. Puppies can learn how to do the basics at that age. Sessions should be very short and fun but they can learn a lot. More importantly puppies should get a LOT of socialization. Puppies need to play with other puppies, go places, be exposed to a lot of different sights, sounds, smells and people. You can't over socialize a puppy. As far as age goes you can teach an old dog new tricks. I have had dogs in my classes as old as 12.
Zeva: 12, that's pretty old! How long should each session be and how many sessions should a dog take?
Eric: I always advise keeping sessions short - 10 to 15 minutes. You can do as many sessions as you want in a day but each individual session short be short and fun. I think training is an ongoing process and the owner should do as many classes as they like. If you get bored with obedience you can do agility, flyball, scent work, search and rescue, dock diving and much more.
Zeva: Anything else you would like to add?
Eric: Just wanted to thank you and share the best advice I ever got about dogs. Here it is: "If you want a good dog, learn how to be a good dog owner. If you want a great dog, learn how to be a great dog owner."
Thanks Eric for sharing all this great information with us. If any of you have specific questions, go to The Amazing Dog Training Man's website or contact Eric directly. He has lots more good tips he can share.
Let me know of any fun training exercises you would like to share with us. I'm always looking for new things to learn.
See you at the park,
P.S. in our house positive method means cookies so I also highly recommend this method of training.
Shameless self promotion: Follow me on Twitter @zevathedog and check out my website at www.laurelmtbasket.com Pay special attention to the Pet gift baskets. You'll want every one of them!