Training the Trainer


Dog-training philosophies differ as much as dogs and trainers do. Most professionals agree, however, that a large part of training dogs consists of training the trainers.


Whether those trainers are pet owners or professionals they need many of the same attributes. Most dogs are neither stupid nor intelligent in the same way humans are. But whatever their natural aptitude they require and benefit from consistency, repetition and a patient style of guidance.


Dog trainers need to have, or develop, an attitude of restraint, calm and focus. Not everyone has, nor can acquire, the patience to carry out a training regime that takes weeks to months or longer. Training is sometimes as short as an hour per day, often as long as all day, broken up into shorter segments. Taking up that effort is a task not all are equipped to master. If you do not have the time, to spend a set amount of time each day, then training needs to be a part of your life. You need to always be aware of what your dog is doing and train him as you go through the day. It is not as effective as spending a specific amount of time daily training, but it is preferable to doing nothing and having an unruly dog.


Trainers need to be patient, firm and fair not only with dogs but also with their owners. Honest answers to legitimate questions breeds the respect essential to successful training. A willingness to explain in clear, patient terms what training will involve and to set out the goals of training is vital.


Variations in breeds, individual temperament and owners themselves makes guaranteeing results impossible. But before training begins, trainers need to communicate answers to questions, owners may not know enough even to ask.


Dog trainers need to be knowledgeable about the health of a dog as, they need to recognize the external possible signs of hip dysplasia, bacterial infections, diabetes and other diseases and conditions. Training can only proceed with a healthy dog.


Trainers need to learn safety procedures, both for the sake of the dog and the trainer. Even friendly, well-behaved dogs can become excited during play. Dogs are emotional creatures and once their hormones begin to flare, they often take several minutes at best to calm down again.


During those periods of excitement, teeth are often bared and the dog is moving around erratically. It's easy for a trainer's hand to get in the path, or for the dog to injure itself over a leash or training block.


Trainers have to develop acute powers of observation and communication. Trainers aren't merely dog lovers. Though, they are almost always that. They're individuals who have or acquire the ability to carefully observe dog behaviour, even subtle changes.  That observation has to be understood to the point that reacting becomes automatic.


Dogs will often signal when they are about to bolt, or to vomit grass, or exhibit a slew of other behaviours. A good trainer has a keen eye and the knowledge of how to use those observations to maximize the effectiveness of training.


You are welcome to use this article written by Valerie Dancer, for your website or publication. Providing it is copied in it’s entirety, including the web site address, linking back to us.

Copyright 2007


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