How many of you have worked with a dog trainer and felt it was a waste of money?
It always surprises me when I meet somebody, after telling them what I do, eight out of 10 say, "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 have to smile when I hear that. My first question 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. We felt guilty after leaving the dog alone all day; we did not want to crate the dog or keep him off the sofa, as the trainer advised."
Life can be 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, or not be embarrassed when you have company 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 is 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 the time to show the dog, why would the dog know what is right and what is wrong?
Dogs act mostly on instinct and what they learn in life will be important for their well-being.
In other words, it is the owners' job to show the dog where to go potty, where to sleep in the house and how to behave around other dogs.
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 your young puppy is in the yard with you and starts pulling out the plants, all he wants to know is 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 your dog that this is not OK to do, and yes, sometimes you have to do it many times before the dog respects you and leaves the plant alone.
It's the same way you have to tell some children over and over not to touch the hot stove. Not all dogs or all 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 only work if you spend time and listen to your trainer's advice.
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.