Summer break is right around the corner! My bet is, parents out there would rather see their kids engaged is some type of physical/mental activity rather than glued to their electronic devices for the next few months. Summer break ALSO means that kids and the family dog will be spending A LOT more time together, enriching their bond, having fun, and doing all things kids and dogs should be doing together … like driving mom and dad crazy after the first day or two!
I was happily playing with a puppy the other day as I talked with its family. Puppies are adorable and cute, and NOTHING beats puppy breath! In between playing with the pup, I provided a few pointers on raising a healthy, happy dog. Unfortunately, most of my recommendations were met with “Oh, he’ll grow out of that, I’m sure.” Among the things the puppy would grow out of were: jumping on people, chewing up household items, and biting. Sigh. One of the most common misconceptions among pet parents is the idea that as dogs grow older, they will simply mature into the well mannered pets we love. Here are my thoughts on how dogs mature and what a puppy will grow “out of”.
Just this morning, my husband asked me, “What’s wrong?” To which I replied, “Nothing.” I was just thinking about my work, but the fact that I wasn’t showing much behavior caused my husband to wonder if I was ok. As I thought about this seemingly innocent discussion, I wondered why this same concern about lack of behavior doesn’t happen when dogs get quiet and seem fine. When dogs are doing nothing, most pet parents assume this is a good thing. They often don’t stop to consider whether the dog is ok. Many times, lack of behavior is viewed as the goal of training. But it’s not…or at least it shouldn’t be.
The pet care industry is a non-regulated industry. That means literally anyone can print business cards and begin their own dog training business. The dog trainer you hire could have no experience or a ton of it. Most of all, it means you really need to do some due diligence to be sure your pet is in the best hands of someone who will care for them as you would. But how do you know? How do you find a good dog trainer if you don’t know much about dog training? What should you look for when you hire someone? How do you know who will be the best match for your and your dog? Here are a few things you should consider in finding a good dog trainer.
There are an estimated 70 million dogs in America (source: APPA), and an entire training industry has evolved to help with teaching these dogs to be good canine citizens. There are behavior sciences designed to help us understand animals, veterinarians to help keep them healthy, nutritionists to help feed them properly and a wide array of pet services and products to keep them healthy and happy. We love our dogs. And that’s the reason it’s painful when we hear about a dog bite. But even more distressing to me is the aftermath of pet professionals who continue to say, “Supervise” or “Don’t’ leave dogs alone with children” and “Be careful because all dogs can bite” without teaching the one class every dog trainer should teach.