We asked Mike Mandell, Animal Obedience and Behavior Trainer, of Alpha K-9 Obedience in Denver, CO to make a list for us of things for you to look for when looking for a Dog Trainer and red flags which will tell you to look elsewhere.
Mike writes, “First, we strongly recommend that you look for a trainer who will give individual attention to your puppy: Private Lessons. Along with this you are strongly encouraged not to take your puppy to group lessons! Yes, they are much cheaper, but every puppy is unique with it’s own personality and you need a trainer gifted in the ability to understand that each puppy is different. You want a trainer who will train your puppy based on his individual personality!
Remember that the German Shepherd is a strong Breed and requires an experienced Handler to bring out the Best in your puppy. Ask the trainer what techniques and tools he uses for training. You want to use the appropriate training tools for your puppy and his goal needs to be bringing out the best in your puppy. Keeping these sessions short and fun will encourage the puppy to Want to learn.
As an Animal Behaviorist, I am hearing that more and more trainers are using the E-Collar on puppies. It is so much Quicker to shock your puppy into submission vs taking the time to build a strong lasting bond using proven techniques. To some of them time is money and the end seems to justify the means. Any trainer that uses this method I would steer very clear of. This is a compulsion training method! Avoid the Old School trainers that use excessive force on your puppy Training should be a Positive Experienced for you and your puppy. Done properly and using the right techniques, your puppy will look forward to the training sessions!
Question the trainer on how long each training session is. The Proper response should be that we keep the sessions up beat and we will end each session on a positive note! Every puppy is different some might have a fairly short attention span; After 1 minute they lose interest, while others can go five minutes or longer and still be upbeat!
The Mark of an Experienced Trainer will be the answer to this simple questions: “How long will it take to train the puppy?” This is a trick Question. First, as a Professional Animal Behaviorist I train the People and the training time will depend upon the Commitment of the owners. There is no magic wand. Don’t be sold an expensive package where you send your puppy off to a trainer, which can cost Thousands of Dollars. It is very possible to get the puppy back and within a short period of time only to find that you are no better off now than before you sent the puppy away. The puppy will respond to YOUR LEADERSHIP and Energy. Your puppy will very quickly consider himself part of your family. He wants to be with his people, not strangers. You would not send off your two year old child to a stranger to teach it basic skills? Of course not and you don’t need to send your little puppy off either.