Welcome to Southwest Florida German Shepherd Rescue Inc., Anonymous Friday, June 21 2024 @ 04:32 pm UTC


  • Saturday, September 30 2023 @ 05:20 pm UTC
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Recently I have heard from dozens of dog owners that their dog was just deemed untrainable by none other than the trainer they hired to train the dog?
So what is a trainer or what should a trainer be? First and foremost a real trainer must understand dog behavior. Experience is the only way to learn to become a trainer. Reading a book, taking a course on line, watching others train dogs and every other superficial mechanism to certify yourself as a trainer is truly B.S.
A person who desires to be a trainer should at minimum work under a qualified trainer for a year or so, at minimum, and have broad breed exposure. They need to recognize behaviors and have immediate and effective remedy to demonstrate at the moment they happen. Training in both social settings and individual classes is essential to being exposed to a wide range of behaviors and suitable remedies. If the person training your dog doesn’t understand dog behavior/psychology, then he will be ineffective and waste your time and money. Reading and watching appropriate videos to see how others handle situations is always helpful as a part of dog training education, but without hands on involvement, (under a qualified teacher) you will never learn these techniques. Acting as a training assistant is always the best way to move ahead in the training learning curve, as it requires you to deal with the dog and owners and be hands on in demonstrating or explaining the behavior or remedy required.
There are thousands of things that effect dogs behaviors. These can be environmental, social, physical or psychological. The ability to assess these areas quickly and on the fly, and how they are effecting the dog at that moment, is what a trainer needs to have to be successful. You can only get this through experience. If your trainer can’t show he has been at this for a while or has the appropriate credentials, then you may wish to find someone that does.
Each dog is different and each owner (and family) is different, so one size in training ever fits all settings. Regardless of the technique taught, the only way to determine if that methodology is effective is to see tangible results. It’s never the technique that is at issue, it is how the trainer implements that technique to the circumstance and dog.
Training techniques such as ones who only use positive rewards, e-collar, leash training with pinch collars or any other method is typically acceptable if it you can show results. Training with any technique that fails to require practice is ineffective and will do more damage than good in modifying behaviors or learning new ones. It’s not the technique it’s the trainer and practice by the owner that trains the dog.
Ask 10 trainers how to fix an issue and you will always get 10 answers. That is not the point at all. The use of appropriate training tools and techniques by a qualified person is what is needed to get results. No one method is perfect at all times.
I have seen trainers known as behavioralists and mentalists attempt to help train dogs. In so far as learning new behaviors, especially from a young dog, most any method is effective, as the dog only wishes to please you. It is when you ask a trainer to get dirty, do you find out which techniques work and which fall short. Behavior modification (correcting a bad behavior) isn’t teaching puppy fluffy to sit and give paw, it is correcting a dog from lunging, air snapping, pulling and the like, and those conditions are rarely accomplished by these mystical approaches.
If a trainer assesses your dog and makes a determination that he is a lost cause, is that the last word? Surely not. By definition a trainer should be able to train your dog (alongside you and with 100% of your effort to support of his technique through practice). If the trainer doesn’t know how to deal with your specific pet and his issues, it is wise to seek another trainer. With experience, most qualified trainers have seen and have dealt with everything from reactivity, to anti social behavior, and from stubborn to hyperactive dogs, and should have a handle on how to modify those behaviors. Basic obedience skills such as training with a puppy (blank slate) is relatively easy if done correctly. Training requires the ability to effectively teach a new behavior; but typically it is modifying a bad behavior to replace it with the desired behavioral result, is the true test of someone calling himself a trainer.
If the skill of the trainer in accomplishing the task at hand is missing, you need to find someone who is qualified to deal with the issue. If your dog is a biter or highly unsocial because you have never socialized him, or that is how you got him, then yes, a trainer can respectfully decline to take on a project that has little chance of working. If your dog is basically reactive to other dogs or to people, protective in his yard or of you on your walks, or is a tad unpredictable, then in most cases these issues are addressable and correctable with the right person and in the right type of class.
Ask your trainer for his background. Get 5 references with that trainer in your breed, possibly with your issues, before hiring him. Ask for a free assessment class to be sure he has the necessary skill and rapport with the animal (and with you). With GSD’s in general, or really any other high energy breed, you need to do the training in a social class with proper supervision (and at times individually) and NOT allow your dog to be separated from you to try and teach him. By separating you from the dog, the dog quickly learns the trainer is the alpha and when he comes back to you, will continue to associate you as a pack member and now with the alpha gone, assume the alpha role himself. You have effectively taught him that he has no need to listen to you because he is in charge. A good trainer will tell you that, a training business will not, as their revenue is done thru these board and train sessions. A good trainer will make sure new behaviors are learned outside the home and will only modify or correct (if needed) bad behaviors in the home where they occur.
So to summarize what I am saying is that I take no exception to any effective training methodology, but to the experience and effectiveness of the trainer himself in teaching you and your dog.