Tips & Advice
How does a dog get therapy-dog certification?
In order to be certified as a therapy dog or emotional support dog, animals need to receive an evaluation/written designation from a licensed health professional: social worker, physician, psychiatrist typically.
As for service dogs, which are allowed to accompany their owners into most businesses and pet-restricted areas, they can receive training, certifications, and registrations from several organizations such as TDI and United States Service Dog Registry. These certifications are not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but may streamline the process of getting a dog access to typically off-limits areas. Service dogs and therapy dogs are not the same thing. The same dog might fall into both categories, but therapy and emotional support animals are not recognized under the ADA.
What is the best training setup for aggressive dogs?
Aggressive behavior is the most common reason that people seek professional training for their dogs. Aggressive dogs require careful evaluation from a professional to accurately classify and diagnose the behavior. Puppies that display aggressive behavior are often diagnosed as undersocialized or hyperactive, and may evolve out of that behavior with regular obedience training. However, dogs with real aggression issues require specialized training from a behaviorist or trainer who understands genetic and hereditary factors, types of aggression, environmental factors and aggressive treatment methods.
The number one suggestion when seeking an aggressive behavior specialist is to ask a trusted veterinarian. Dog rescues or other professionals may also have good referrals.
What if a dog fails obedience training?
If a dog doesn’t meet expectations at the end of a training course, it is as likely to be related to the training course or the pet owner as the dog. A recommended next step would be to carefully research more training methods and local trainers to find a program that is better suited to your dog. Another one is to consider whether lack of commitment, inconsistent at-home practice, or an inconsistent discipline/reward system may have undermined the training program.
What is the proper age to start obedience training?
Obedience training generally takes place at 6 months, but you can begin training a puppy to socialize with humans and other animals at 7-8 weeks.
What will a dog and owner both learn in a class?
Essentially, dogs learn to respond properly to basic commands in obedience class--and humans learn how to properly give those commands. Dogs and owners will also learn how to communicate with each other, and how to avoid distractions or disturbances from the outside. No matter which method of dog training is used, it is necessary to be consistent and committed in order to train a dog. Also, it’s important that a pet owner understand their dog’s temperament and hereditary factors, and find a class and method that is appropriate.
How does group training work?
Puppy training mainly focuses on socialization and basic manners, and thus fits well into a small-group training model. Puppies will learn to be friendly around other puppies and humans, and they will learn familiarity with the leash.
Beginner and intermediate obedience classes are usually taught in a group training setting, wherein 5-10 owners and dogs learn basic to medium commands (sit and stay/down/heel). The group setting is recommended because it teaches dogs to ignore other distractions--whether they be dogs, humans or peripheral noises.
What are the most common methods of dog training?
There are several common methods of dog training, including classical conditioning, operant-conditioning training (encompassing positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement training), dominance-based training, clicker training, and electronic training.
Classical conditioning dates back to Pavlov – it means learning through association. If one thing consistently leads to another, a dog will associate the first with the second. The long-term result is to create habitual behaviors.
Operant conditioning can be split into two sub-categories: positive reinforcement, where a dog is rewarded for good behavior, and negative, where a dog experiences consequences for bad behavior. The long-term result creates a dynamic where a dog will try new environments or behaviors due to owner prompts.
Clicker training is a very popular sub-category of operant conditioning, where a dog is first trained with treats and corresponding “click” noise, and then gradually weaned to do the same processes for fewer treats but the same amount of clicks.
Dominance-based training is a controversial method that is modeled around the “Alpha dog” hierarchy model, where one creature leads a pack. However, though dominance training has many naysayers, it is the precursor of the iconic “Dog Whisperer” method popularized by Cesar Millan.
How long does it take to train a dog?
The time it takes to train a dog varies according to the dog and what you’re attempting to train. Housetraining a puppy usually only takes a few weeks, if adhering to a proven training system with a typically intelligent puppy.
Beginner behavioral or “manners” training courses typically run 6 weeks. Obedience training typically takes 2-3 sessions per new skill—if you are practicing with your dog multiple times a day in between sessions, and if your dog is young.
How much does dog training cost?
The cost of dog training varies by location, and also depends on whether training is one-on-one or group classes, and whether it is at a facility or in-home.
Pet stores and non-specialized trainers cost between $70-150 for a multi-week beginner-training group class. Private training averages $60-70 per session. For dogs with aggression issues, private training costs may increase to $90-100 per session.
Are there private, at-home dog training services?
Yes, private dog training service is widely available. Most trainers will offer a choice of private sessions or group classes. And many dog trainers offer an option of in-home training sessions as a more expensive alternative to training at a dog park or training facility.