ASK THE EXPERTS
Q. I just rescued a dog, where do I start with training?
A. Every person to buy or adopt a dog planned ahead, they did extensive research and included all family members in the decision-making process…or should have. Now that we are back from a fantasy world let’s discuss your options; whether you already have your new dog or a considering it, having a plan is the most important step. Unfortunately, many dog owners make these long-term decisions about the training and care, after their dog misbehaves.
Cost & Time: Your biggest challenge is deciding how much you can invest in the long-term care of your dog. Most dogs require, on average, $2000 per year in preventative and normal care. These costs do not include any training equipment or trainer fees associated with his/her training. Decide early on if you have a dog that will need professional assistance. Chances are, you do.
Finding a Trainer: Whether your first dog or not, you will run into difficulties along the path to and through their maturity. Many behavior problems begin when they are puppies and only escalates as they grow and mature mentally and physically. Prepare yourself in advance to stop the unwanted or aggressive behavior before it is too late.
Setting Goals: Everyone wants a Lassie, these dogs do not exist, without a plan in place. Plan to need maintenance training or continuation training at various times in your dog’s career as a family member.
Examples of training classes: Puppy training (Star puppy), basic obedience (Canine Good Citizen), advanced obedience (Community Canine), specialty training (Rally, Public Access, Urban Canine, Nose Work.)
Going the Distance: No one loses their dog to old age and relishes the freedom from their companionship. Training of your dog can end the day after they pass. Just like your children, invest in their future. To your dog, you mean everything to them. Keep them engaged throughout their life by providing recreation, socialization, and stimulation.
Practical application: Like any sport or skills, consistency and repetition are essential to success in the field. Training tricks are great for your dog and provide the stimulation necessary to a well-rounded canine. However, you can take it a step further by teaching your dog skills that will be useful in your time together. Teaching fetch is a common and helpful basic skill, that will some guidance and initiative could become a task.
Life is full of success and failure. Knowing how to train or practice is the first step. Prepare you and your dog for success by having a plan. Don’t think you can handle everything a dog needs to know. Coming from someone working and training dogs for 16+ years, I learn something new about dogs every day. It is an ever-evolving industry. Be successful by preparing to succeed.
-Christopher Baity, CDT
If you have a question you would like to ask one of our experts, visit our website americanservicedogs.org and look under submissions.