"I had a dog trainer and it did not work."
How many of you worked with a dog trainer and feel it was a waste of money?
I have to say, it always surprises me when I meet somebody and after I tell them what I do for work, eight out of 10 people tell me, "Oh, we had a dog trainer when our dog was young, but it did not work. The dog is still jumping, barking and pulling on the leash."
I always have to smile when I hear that. My first question of course is, "Why do you feel it did not work?"
And everybody at least is honest and says, "Well, we've been too busy to work with the dog and we could not do what the trainer told us to do because we felt guilty after leaving the dog alone all day; we did not want to crate the dog or keep him off the sofa, like the trainer advised."
Life can be so tough on us at times, but if you really think about it, is it really so hard to train the dog for three months and then have a wonderful dog you can take places and are not embarrassed when you have company over or go for a walk with your dog?
What is harder on the dog? A structured life with rules and peace or an out of control dog that gets yelled at on a daily basis because nobody wanted to work with the dog or listen to the dog trainer?
I believe 100 percent in training a dog the same way I believe in giving children a structured and happy life with rules and guidelines.
Would you let your child run into traffic because you feel that you're 6-year-old knows that traffic is dangerous? Why do people expect dogs to know everything by the time the dog is 1 to 2 years old? If nobody takes time to show the dog, how would it know what is right and what is wrong?
A dog acts mostly on instinct and what it learns in life will be important for its well-being.
In other words, it is the owner's job to show the dog where to go potty, where to sleep in the house and how to behave around other dogs outside. Most dogs are very willing to please the owner as soon as they know what is expected of them.
Please do not punish your dog for something the dog doesn't even know is wrong. Teach your dog what is right and what is wrong.
If puppy is in the yard with you and starts pulling out plants, all it wants is to know what the plant is (can I eat it, is it soft or hard in my mouth, can I flip it in the air to play with it?).
It is your job to teach the dog that this is not OK to do this, and yes, sometimes you have to do it many times before the dog respects you and leaves the plant alone, the same way you have to tell some children over and over not to touch the hot stove. Not all dogs or children are alike.
With a good dog trainer on your side you will be so happy with your dog the way it should be. But keep in mind, it will work only if you spend the time and listen to the trainer's advice.
It's pretty much like everything in life: in order to make it perfect you have to practice, practice, practice.
Have fun working with your dog.
Birgit Edler is the owner of Canine College in Juno Beach, which offers grooming, training and day care services for dogs and cats. Call (561) 626-0552 or e-mail Caninecollegefl@yahoo.com.