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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Selecting a dog trainer for Labrador Retriever

Training your Labrador Retriever yourself is a good option. But if for some reason you are unable to do so, either due to scarcity of time or a very demanding work schedule, what is your next best option? Well you can seek the services of a professional dog trainer.

You have to be very careful about selecting a good dog trainer and so you must know what to look for in the person you select. We shall go through some of the qualities that the American Dog Trainers Network (ADTN) looks for in their affiliates.

1 Reputation

A good trainer must have an excellent reputation. So ask around and evaluate the kind of answers you get from various people who have known the trainer. The categories of people you could contact for references include vets, the ASPCA, your city’s animal humane societies, and other reputed trainers in your area.

2 Experience

Experience is another important point of consideration where training is concerned. Question the trainer about the number of years he has been in the business of training dogs. Ask him about his areas of expertise. Put forth any other questions that might come to mind. You have every right to clarify your doubts.

3 Genuine love for dogs

This should be one of the foremost qualities that will shine in the trainer’s eyes. You will be able to recognize it at once. It is either there or it is not. A genuine lover of dogs will simply be passionate about dogs. He will answer all your queries about dogs with great ease, care, and concern.

4 Knowledge

A good trainer will keep himself up to date with all the latest dog training and handling techniques. Whenever possible he will attend dog training conferences or seminars to meet with other trainers and exchange views and news. You can ask the trainers you meet about their methods of keeping up to date with the latest changes in dog training land.

5 Humane training methodologies & animal handling skills

A good trainer will have the welfare of his animals uppermost in his mind at all times. Hence they will never indulge in abusive or harsh handling methods as they are well aware of the fact that harsh handling is only counter-productive.

6 Good communication & interactive skills

These skills are obviously in the trainers favor. A trainer who can speak and interact well with his enthusiastic dog owners will obviously be knowledgeable about his wards. He will also make learning a lively and enjoyable process.

7 A sense of humor

This is an additional bonus for both the dog and the owner. Humor can be fun for everyone concerned.

8 Ethics

Check out whether the trainer you are considering is in the business for the love of money or for the love of his wards. Nothing is wrong in earning your bread from dog training, but ethics in any play an important role in any business. Use your discretion in making such judgments.

Ask the right questions

In order to make a correct assessment of your trainer you must know the right questions to ask. Some of these questions could be as follows.
  • What is a Labrador Retrievers general temperament like?
  • What will my Lab’s weight and height be when he reaches his full size?
  • How will a Lab react to kids?
  • What are the chronic problems that are normally associated with Labs?
  • What is the normal life expectancy of a Lab?
  • How much hair does a Lab shed?
  • Do Labs require a lot of grooming?
  • Are Labs easy to train?
  • Are Labrador Retrievers noisy dogs?
  • What kind of special care will you have to give a Lab?

Advantages of finding the right trainer

  • 1 A professional dog trainer will diminish your dog’s behavioral problems.
  • 2 A good trainer will use only positive reinforcement for training.
  • 3 This will make your Lab a happy and well-educated dog.
  • 4 As a trainer would have handled a vast cross section of dogs, he will easily be able to identify the nature of your dog. With this he will be able to employ the right kind of strategy to train your pet.
Trainers to avoid

1 Trainers who give guarantees about their results. This is just not possible with any living creature. Dogs too have minds and will powers of their own, which just cannot be controlled or dominated by anyone.

2 Trainers who use physical punishments on their dogs. If the trainer recommends that you punish your dog to get him to obey, just walk out of there. And never go back or recommend that guy to anyone. He has no understanding of doggie nature.

3 Watch out for untrained people who try to pass off as professional trainers. They have neither the qualifications nor the natural flair for training dogs.

Selecting a dog trainer

While you are in the process of selecting a professional trainer for your dog, you can ask the prospective trainer whether you can actually witness a class in progress before you sign your pooch up for training.

A good trainer should have no objection to your attending a class. When you attend a class you must look out for the following factors.

1 What is the size of the class? The number of animals in the class must be small so that they can get proper individual attention.

2 Are puppies and dogs accommodated in the same class?

3 Does the trainer separate the dogs into different levels of training? The different levels could be as follows:
  • Beginners
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
4 What methods does he use for training? Are they harsh or humane? If harsh methods are being used walk out of the class.

5 Is the trainer being flexible enough to modify his methods to suit the individual needs of various dogs?

6 Do the dogs look happy in the class? What about the owners, do they look happy?

7 Is the trainer encouraging participation in class activities from the owners?

8 Does he give the owners homework to do with their dogs once they get back home?

9 Does the trainer praise the dogs when they learn their lessons well?

10 Does he insist that your dog must be vaccinated before he enrolls for the class? Does he ask for a vaccination certificate as proof of vaccination?

11 Is he forthcoming in information regarding grooming techniques, learning, or any other doggie related problems?

Necessary precautions

There are some other precautions that you need to take before you take your Lab to a training class. They are as follows.

1 Get a clean certificate of health from your vet just to ensure that your doggie is not infested with any parasite such as tics or fleas.

2 Do not give your dog a huge meal just before taking him to a class. For one, a heavy meal will make him slow and sluggish. Secondly, most trainers use treats rather generously to encourage dogs to learn. So let you doggie also have enough space in his stomach to enjoy his doggie treats at school.

3 Practice whatever is taught at doggie school with your pooch at home. This is to ensure that he learns his lessons well.

4 If the trainer asks you to bring any training equipment along for the class, please ensure that you do so.

5 It is good for you to know that taking your dog to a class helps him to socialize well with other dogs too.

If you require any more information about dog trainers, you can contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) P.O. Box 385 Davis, CA 95617800-PET-DOGS.

‘What would it cost to get my Lab trained professionally?’

Training can cost anything from $30 to $60 per hour. Costs normally depend upon the area where you are located. It also depends on the kind of class you select. If you want your dog to get individual attention then the cost could go up. Group training sessions will cost less. Some animal shelters offer subsidized training ranging from $35 to $90 for the entire course! So you could check these options out too.

‘Can you suggest who would be the best person to train my Lab? I mean at home, not professional.’

Any member of the family can train your Lab. This is what is so lovely about this training technique. You need no special qualifications. Patience, persistence, and consistency are all you require to turn out a well-behaved dog. But it is necessary that the dog recognizes one member of your family as the undisputed leader.

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