These days we don’t often reach for a huge tablet of an encyclopedia, we google it instead, but anyone can upload their opinions. It is the same on social media, dog owners are increasingly turning to dog-related Facebook groups, to seek out help for that behaviour problem or health issue our dog is suffering from.
I don’t doubt there is a lot of experienced owners and trainers on the net, but for every good one, there are often ten more who can dish out the wrong advice
, advice that can sometimes be downright dangerous to you and your dog.
Too often I see people diagnosing the problem from scant information;
no in-depth history means the real route of the issue or that vital piece of the jigsaw puzzle can be left in the box. In the worst case scenario, dogs can lose their lives due to bad advice given
by keyboard experts. You may think I am exaggerating but believe me, I am not. The trouble is, if you need to ask about why your dog is doing this or that and how to stop it, it means you lack the knowledge to weed out the bad advice.
That isn’t a criticism, I don’t know how my fridge works…….
We also seem to be increasingly living in a society that wants something for nothing. People don’t think they should pay to help their dog overcome his aggression
problem or separation anxiety
; we want a quick fix.
However, does that solution involve looking at the dogs' emotions and anxieties and asking, ‘What can I do to support you in this’ or does the advice you follow mean your dog goes on suffering because you have covered up the problem with a Band-Aid?
I cannot tell you the number of times people quibble at the price of a good trainer or behaviourist. They don’t see why an hour’s lesson or a package of sessions should cost so much. What people fail to note is the time outside the session the trainer spends working. First there is the initial conversation and booking process, some trainers may have to travel miles to see you, (taking up more time), we work with you face to face, often putting ourselves at risk in doing so they have to travel home and write a detailed report and be on standby for any questions or support you may have going forward.
Just one dog from one session can take a good eight hours of our time. Not only that, professional trainers have spent thousands on gaining an up to date education in their field. They have paid money joining organisations which show they are ethical and work to a high standard, and have to continue to do as much as 40 hours a year of continued profession development to stay current with the latest research and methods (How many occupations can you say insist on that to stay qualified in a professional guild?).
So when looking for help, spend time doing your research before following someone’s advice or booking a trainer.
- Does the person have a qualification in training or behaviour and to what level?
- How long have they been working with dogs?
- Do they have testimonials from clients on their service?
- Are they a member of a professional organisation and if so, what are the ethics and mission statement of that body?
- Do you like how they interact with you and your dog?
Do they have several ways to train the same thing, if one way isn’t working for your dog, can they be flexible and find a way he can learn?
Just be careful who you entrust your precious pooch too, after all, you wouldn’t ask an unskilled person to fix the brakes on your car now, would you!