How long does it take to train a dog?

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How long does it take to train a dog ?

People often ask me how long does it take to train a dog ? We live in a world where time is very valuable and people want things now. We are always in a rush, we don’t want to wait in line, and we get angry when there is traffic. While some trainers may sugar coat things on this subject, I will not. I will be the first to admit, dog training takes time, patience, and consistency, it truly is never ending. Like anything in life worth having, such as a well-behaved dog, it doesn’t happen without effort.

There is no specific time frame. Dog training is a lifestyle.

I mean it in the same sense as fitness is a lifestyle. There are some people who only go to the gym when they are unhappy with their physical appearance or a health issue arises. Once they are happy with their results they stop going to the gym. More likely than not, they will revert back to their old appearance and that health issue may return. Then there are other people who might have started going to the gym because of the same reasons, but the difference is, when they achieved their goal, they kept up with that lifestyle to maintain it. Dog training is no different than fitness in that respect.

The hardest part about dog training is getting started.

Once you have started the secret is consistency and to never stop. Figure out how to include dog training into your life. Now, that looks different for every person and their dog. Not everyone interested in fitness aspires to be a competition body builder and not every dog owner needs their dog to enter obedience competitions. Although chances are if you are reading this, you have some desire to have a well-behaved dog. Once your dog is trained, whether you do it yourself or work with a dog trainer, the lifestyle part of dog training is continuing to hold your dog accountable for the skills they know. If you are happy with the level of obedience you have achieved with your dog, great! Now just keep at it and continue holding your dog accountable.

Hold your dog accountable for what they know.

In my board and train program I teach basic obedience both on and off leash using an ecollar. Once a dog leaves my board and train program, they know their commands (sit, down, place, heel, recall), honor thresholds, and know to wait for food. All my clients have to do is continue to hold their dogs accountable.

The lifestyle I ask clients to live with their dog looks something like this. Take the dog on structured walks using the heel command. Use the place command in the house for duration work as opposed to always letting the dog free roam the house. Make sure the dog is obeying thresholds such as the crate door, car doors, and house doors. When feeding your dog, ensure they are patiently waiting as you prepare it and give them permission to eat.

Now you might ask yourself, is all of this really needed?

It depends on the dog and it depends on how obedient you want your dog. There are some dogs that are easy going, once trained, ask something of them and they easily comply. There are other dogs (I have one of them), which are a bit more stubborn, need more reinforcement and reminders. Like any skill or trait in life, if you don’t use it you lose it. The same goes for dog training. It would be unfair to the dog if you don’t hold them accountable for their training each day, but then when guests come over or you bring them out in public you are suddenly asking them to behave in a distracting environment when you haven’t asked anything of them lately.

That being said, dogs are creatures of habit and strive off structure and routine. The more consistent you can be with your dog, the more relaxed and content they will be. Now the question is, what habits and routine do you want your dog to become accustom to, the ones that display calm and obedient behavior, or the opposite?

 

Dog Behavior

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Dog Behavior

Dog behavior issues are more common then one might think. “I have a good dog but…” I’m sure every dog owner has spoken these words at one point or another. What follows after the “but” can range anywhere from… is too hyper, doesn’t listen, jumps on people, barks at guests, barks at other dogs, pulls on the leash, is protective over food or toys, the list goes on and on. Most dog behavior problems are created or allowed by the human. Good news, if we created it, we can stop it.

Dogs are not perfect, nor will they ever be and neither are we as humans. Although, I believe there is an issue if an owner thinks they have a good dog when in reality that dog is displaying dangerous and/or inappropriate behaviors. Owners need to realize when their dog behavior problems are serious and address it properly.

A good dog does not have the potential to cause harm to itself, others, or make the owners ponder whether to re-home the dog or not. A good dog should not cause stress within a household and should be able to be included in your life no matter the scenario. No dog should have to display dangerous or inappropriate behaviors, dog behavior problems can always be solved.

Be aware of the dog behavior you allow.

People are always training their dog whether they know it or not, letting them know what is acceptable dog behavior and what is not every moment you interact with them. I think the mindset of “I have a good dog, but…” is one of the problems that contribute to bad dog behavior today. Of course one is biased towards their dog, after all it is their dog and they have an emotional attachment to them.

Although if your dog displays even one potentially dangerous behavior, that should not be ignored and swept under the rug. Just because the dog is great in all other aspects does not mean you should not address the one or two dangerous behaviors they might have. It is your job as a dog owner to train your dog, whether you do that yourself or with the help of a dog trainer. We all need to be responsible dog owners and teach our dogs how to live in our human world.

Here’s a common dog behavior as an example…

A dog that jumps on people. That may or may not seem like an innocent act to you. Maybe your dog just wants to say hi and welcome your friends and family. Your guests might even think this is cute and acceptable, but dogs get sent to shelters everyday for jumping and counter surfing. I’m willing to bet there is a good chance your guests do not appreciate the way your dog is greeting them even if they are not vocal about it. If that dog is allowed to jump on your family/friends, what happens when that dog jumps on a stranger or someone elderly or a child? Is it still acceptable? It could be potentially dangerous in that scenario.

We need to stop being “blinded by love” so to speak, and start to realize that although we love our dogs, we need to start addressing the problem areas they display before it becomes too late.