Should you get a dog behaviourist? Unfortunately, in any moment of the years spent together, your furry friend may be inclined to exhibit undesirable canine traits, whether it is genetic or from poor socialisation. This includes dog aggression, excessive barking, destructive chewing, separation anxiety, and the list goes on.
Should you get one?
What does a dog behaviourist do?
Dog behaviourists help . . .
- Assess and resolve any of your pet’s unusual behaviour.
- Provide training for socialisation and can easily break up dog fights safely.
- Effectively manage dogs in general regardless of the size, age, temperament, and breed.
- Monitor and maintain the state of your canine’s health in good condition.
- They can easily identify early signs of any diseases.
- Address behavioural cases in several different approaches.
Here is a list of questions to ponder on before finally hiring one.
1. What are the qualifications you should look for in a dog trainer?
Check his/her credentials, references, qualifications, and experience. Know that there is no licencing requirement to proclaim oneself as a dog trainer. As such, hire a trainer who is affiliated with animal behaviourist organisations that were able to fulfil the membership criteria. The said organisations include Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists & Trainers, and others.
2. What equipment will be used during dog training?
A competent and skilled behaviourist should already have access to all equipment and training aids necessary for such training. This includes special dog leads and a variety of props to be employed as part of the training.
In addition, ask the potential trainer, “What training equipment do you recommend for me to use?” A professional trainer should recommend equipment designed to ensure a dog’s safety. He/she should never recommend on using equipment that may cause any discomfort or pain to a canine such as choking chains, electric collars, and prong collars. Pain-elicited training may develop potential dangerous behaviour.
3. What methods or approaches are used in the training programme?
For years, negative reinforcement has been ‘out of fashion.’ However, there are still trainers who remain or prefer this kind of training. This should be clearly established before sealing the deal with the potential dog behaviourist.
4. Are there guarantees offered for a successful result?
In usual cases, behaviourists do not offer official guarantees of success and your involvement as the owner on the said training. Many engage with dog training without defining the goal of having a ‘trained dog.’ There are behaviourists that like to assume that teaching obedience commands can solve most behaviour problems. On the other hand, there are those that assume in contradiction. We believe that traditional obedience can improve the relationship between the dog and the dog owner. However, it also believed that there are other more reliable solutions that can be used aside from obedience training.
Further, before sealing the deal, find out what they wish to accomplish at the end of the training.
5. Is your pooch going to have a compatible relationship with the dog behaviourist?
From the initial assessment, the dog behaviourist should be able to establish himself/herself as a good leader to your dog. In this way, your dog will treat him with respect and gain his/her attention. Make sure that your dog is rationally accepting any changes and can happily work with the behaviourist.
6. Is there an assurance that my dog will not be inadvertently punished?
A professional behaviourist should be expert in canines’ ways of communication; thus, he/she should be able to recognise any signs of dog discomfort during training. In case your pooch was indeed unintentionally punished, it will reflect in his/her demeanour and performance.
7. How will you know if your dog is too stressed during the training?
If your dog suspiciously whines, growls, or snarls, those are obvious signs of stress. Take action and watch out for the following subtle signs of stress:
- Eyes – Rather than posing an almond-shaped, soft eye, it has become wide open and rounded. The white portion resembles crescent moons.
- Furrowed brows.
- Panting at any moment with sweaty paw prints.
- Ears are set flat on his back or set forward.
- Stiff legs.
- The tail is usually tucked or can also be held high. His wags have become short and stiff without moving his rear end.
- His mind is not set on the training, with his head away from the trainer or the props used in training.
- Running away and refusing to follow the ‘come’ command.
8. Does the behaviourist interact well with you?
Having the best behaviourist will be in vain without a good sense of communication. Communication is vital to get information on your dog’s progress in terms that are understandable to you.
9. How much does a dog behaviourist cost?
‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.’ – Red Adair
Generally speaking, specific costing largely depends on the area and the different services you choose. Find a behaviourist at a reasonable cost. If it is cheaper or more expensive than usual, find out the reason.
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