All things in life should grow and develop. This applies to our relationships also. Whether you have your furry best friend and want to plant the seeds of a harmonious long-term friendship, or you’ve been living together for a little while, and would like to take your relationship to another level, most of us need guidance sometimes. And just like you would go to a specialist in the event you wanted more from your relationship with your partner, you’d go to a.. . Dog training school if you needed to work on your relationship with your dog.
The question is, how do you find a good specialist? Now, if you were just feeling under the weather, you would probably visit a general practitioner. But what if you had a toothache? I bet you would visit a dentist instead! Same with dog training. First, you want to decide whether you would like to work on overall obedience, aggression, separation anxiety, or maybe you want to choose therapy dog training or a protection dog training program. And then you got to read on because we created a list of local hidden gems in San Diego area that specialize in precisely the sort of dog training classes you want!
Now, what types of dog training schools are we going to look at exactly?
Dog Obedience Training
Aggressive Dog Training
Protection Dog Training or Guard Dog Training
Behavior Modification Dog Training – Dog Separation Anxiety Training
Therapy Dog Training
Service Dog Training
We’ll also take a look at such training classes as a puppy training camp, group courses, in home dog training and online dog training.
All these gems have 5-star evaluations on Yelp, tons of happy customers and they are local, oftentimes family-owned businesses, so you can make great friends one of your neighbors while doing some training as well!
How do you know which one is great for you?
6 Strategies for Picking the Correct Dog Training School
1. Know The Dog Training Industry is Unregulated
That means that virtually anyone can call him or herself a coach, regrettably. However, there are certifications and organizations that can help you identify those who really have the right designations and experience. Being the key educational organization for coaches, APDT has a very practical resource named Trainer Search that lets you find coaches in your area according to your city or zip code. Amazing tool!
2. Know the Training Techniques Used
Now, all trainers have different training methods, but here are a few fundamental things that would help you swim in the sea of coach jargon. There are currently 4 basic methods of training that stem from behavioral psychology: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment. The words positive and negative aren’t representing the idea of”good and bad” here, they function more like they want in math, with positive meaning addition and negative significance subtraction of something.
This is the most popular method now, and, sure enough, you’re all familiar with it. Positive reinforcement has, at its core, rewarding a dog for desired behavior usually with a treat, a toy or play time, based on what motivates your dog the most. The trick is to pick the right timing: just as your dog does the desired behavior, reward him or her right away, and supplement the treat with a high-pitched”good dog”, to ensure that your pet understands how pleased you are with this behavior. See how a treat is added here? This is the positive part, the addition.
This technique involves taking something unpleasant away to reinforce the desired behaviour. That’s how electrical fences work, for example. When a dog gets too near the perimeter, it receives a shock, but the shock disappears the moment the dog moves away from the boundary. In this manner, the dog learns to stay away from the perimeter. Watch the subtraction here – the unpleasant sensations are removed to reinforce a behavior, this is negative reinforcement.
With punishment techniques, the trainer is attempting to make a particular behaviour happen less often. With positive punishment, the trainer adds some unpleasant stimuli to discourage a behavior. With excessive barking, for instance, a trainer can add a spray bark collar to the training, so that each and every time a dog barks, it gets sprayed. The dog will associate nuisance barking with being sprayed, and this will discourage him or her from barking all night again. Can you see how with this technique a trainer would include (=positive) something to dissuade a behavior (=punishment).
This technique implies taking something away (=negative) in order to discourage a behaviour (=punishment). A good example is if a coach turns away from a dog that’s leaping on him or other people to get attention. He takes the attention away from the dog to discourage undesired behavior. This system is often used together with positive reinforcement to decrease the unwanted behavior and reinforce the desired behavior.
Ah, that was really a bit of advice, right? Did it become somewhat clearer what the different training methods do? Great. There is still much debate around the best training methods in the coaches’ world, but what you select remains your decision.
Now that you’ve learnt more about the behavioral psychology, how do you start seeing some similarities between how we train dogs and the way the government trains us? On to the next tip.
Group Classes, Boot Camps, In House Training or Skype chats – there is every type of dog training you might need under sunlight. Consider the advantages and drawbacks. With in house dog training the obvious advantage is you will receive more personal attention. If your dog has any socialization problems, in home training will not be as effective as group dog training classes, where both you and your fido can learn to be around other dogs and work around a lot of tempting distractions. If you want your dog to have the experience of a complete immersion, then a dog training camp will be the best choice. Whereas, if your budget is tight, online dog training might be the solution you’re looking for. Selecting the type of training you need will make the job of finding a great dog training school way simpler.
4. Watch a Class Before You Enroll
As soon as you picked a course or a training school, take some time to come to one of the training sessions and just observe. Pay attention to the following:
How big is the class size and if you will be getting enough attention,
If puppies and adult dogs are trained separately,
How many degrees do the classes have (basic, intermediate, advanced),
The way the coach disagrees with the dogs,
How dogs respond to the training,
Whether everyone seems to be having fun and enjoying the procedure.
If you ticked all the checkboxes here, and are comfortable with the surroundings, you’ve discovered a good candidate.
5. Don’t Forget About Vaccinations
Safety first! Ensure that your dog is properly vaccinated before you start any dog training and get the green light from your vet. Next, ensure that the training school requires every dog to be vaccinated and is requesting a proof. This way you can be certain that the safety aspect of your training is covered.
6. Ask About the Follow Up
Now, what happens once you have completed the program? Maybe there are not any follow up visits in case a problem does arise. Make sure to ask the faculty or the coach about what happens once you’re finished with their program.
Now, we’re introducing you to the 10 hidden gem colleges with 5-star Yelp evaluations that specialize in the type of dog training you’re looking for.
The best time to start training is when your pooch is between 3 and 14 months old, it does not indicate that your pup doesn’t learn well later, but it is just the juiciest time when he or she absorbs new tricks like a sponge, so take advantage of this if you can! The next stage where pet owners often need assistance is the 6 months mark, when pups transition to adolescence, and this time is similar to the teenage years we’ve been through – rough.