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How to Pick a Dog Trainer You Can Work With

If you have a dog and don't have the patience, energy or time to train him, you're not alone. This is a task that requires significant effort, especially if you want to have a well-adjusted dog that is happy -- and has a happy owner, too. For some people, this means that they need the services of a professional dog trainer.

When it comes to hiring a dog trainer, in general, the quality and cost will vary. Training philosophies, too, will also vary considerably between trainers, focused on human and animal interactions as they are. Therefore, utilize these parameters to narrow down your selection.

Take a look at your budget and what you need in terms of obedience training services. In some cases, training may even be free, supplied weekly by volunteers who work in shelters or parks. In other cases, you may pay up to $100 or more per session. A "reasonable fee" will vary, depending on where you live, the trainer's experience, how long the program is, and what goals you have for your pet.

Take a look at your schedule. Some training programs happen every week, others do so more often. You may have to leave your dog at the training facility and pick it up afterward, or you may opt to sign up for a program where the training involves you as well as your dog. Most training programs do suggest that you spend some time with your dog training him or her every day, either at the trainer facility or at home.

Is a "boot camp" training program right for you? In this case, your dog will be taken to a special facility for a length of time, up to several weeks. This type of training is long and intensive, and happens on a very regular basis. However, you shouldn't have any concerns for your dog, since dogs like this type of training. Toward the end of the training itself, you'll need to participate in the training, too, so that the dog ultimately sees you as the one to obey.

The results of these programs are often amazing, though. For those dogs who graduate, even if they're not involved in "special service" types of functions, they are actually eager to follow instructions, and are very disciplined besides. Paradoxically, though, these dogs show no signs of repression and in fact are usually very playful and happy.

What are your goals? Do you want your dog to be entered in shows, or do you just want a dog that doesn't chew on your favorite shoes or pick on other pets? Whatever your goals, you'll need to train your dog -- and do so on a regular basis -- to get the results you want. How much training is required will depend on your dog, his age, breed, and temperament.

Take a look at your dog's temperament; for example, is your dog fearful, either because he was mistreated before or just because it's submissive? Or, your dog may be assertive, either because it's been abused previously and has had to fight back, or simply because it wants to be "leader of the pack." The training you choose is going to depend on how you want to influence your dog and the characteristics you want to mold.

Whatever the goals for your dog, and whatever your commitment and budget, you will want to hire a trainer who has infinite patience, energy, and a deep love for dogs. Most dog trainers have these characteristics very strongly.

Besides these things, though, you want a trainer who agrees with you in terms of philosophy and who wants to achieve the same goals for your dog that you do. Some trainers feel that dog training is just as much or even more about training the owner than training a dog, and there may be some truth to that, sometimes. Some trainers are friendly, lenient, and seek to "connect" with the dog, while others are almost military in their bearing and expect to be able to "command" the dog. Many trainers utilize a mix of both styles.

Your training style preferences will vary, but regardless, training style is not usually entirely subjective. Even if you have disagreements with your trainer, you'll usually have some areas of agreement, too. Consistency, persistence and patience, as well as your need (as the pack leader) to lead are just a few of these commonly held principles.

When you look for your own trainer, ask for recommendations from friends and family who share similar philosophies, and shop around. You may have to change trainers at least once if you aren't happy with whom you've picked at first. Don't change on a whim, though. One of the most important parts of obedience training is that consistency is key, and a regular environment is necessary so that the dog can integrate what's being taught.