Dear Porky and Buddy,
I adopted a new puppy, Buster, several months ago, and, to tell you the truth, it turns out that I’m not much of a dog trainer. He is housetrained (most of the time) but doesn’t come when he is called, jumps up on people who come to the house (including me), chews things all around the house relentlessly, ( I am down to my last pair of sneakers) and is a royal pain in the butt.
I really do love him as he is very affectionate and fun to play with, but I am clueless about where to go from here. I have ready every book I can find–they all have different and confusing advice. So I asked my friends about hiring a professional dog trainer but even that is confusing.
Does he need “boot camp” for dogs? Does he need someone who only uses positive reinforcement methods? Are they different? What should I do?
Well first of all, thanks for adopting. And second, thanks for reaching out for help with training instead of letting Buster get to a point that your bond with him is in jeopardy.
We think a dog trainer would be a good idea for you and Buster. His or her job is to help you discourage unwanted behavior in Buster and encourage desirable behavior. Trainers teach the basics: how to come when called, house-training, crate training, and correcting behaviors like digging, barking, chewing, jumping up on people and pulling on a lead. But what kind of trainer?
Most experts agree that dog training built on a positive relationship is the kindest — and also the most effective — method of training. Training methods that build a positive relationship with the dog have lasting beneficial effects. When you have a good relationship with Buster you have his trust, and he wants to spend time with you and work with you.
Training based on punishment or dominance can quicky negate any sort of positive relationship you might develop with him.
This is an important concept and the terms that people use to try to explain it can be confusing. The best explanations that we have found are handouts on dog training and dominance theory put out by the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior.
You can find them at http://avsabonline.org/resources/position-statements. In a nut-shell, what the AVSAB says is this:
“Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission, to determine who has priority access to multiple resources such as food, preferred resting spots and mates Most undesirable behaviors in our pets are not related to priority access to resources; rather, they are due to accidental rewarding of the undesirable behavior.”
In other words, oops!
You have probably been teaching Buster to misbehave by mistake. You need help with that. Talk to your vet, to your groomer, and maybe other people with well behaved dogs for recommendations about trainers in your area.
After you have read up on training methods and understand the differences, make sure the trainer you are interested in seems to know about those issues too and can explain how he or she incorporates them into a training program Ask whether this trainer is certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
This is the only national certification for pet dog trainers. Ask to contact some of his or her prior customers. Often the most helpful information comes from those who have used the services of the trainer you are interested in.
In other words, do your homework to find training help that will be best for both Buster and you and we expect that you will have many more years of happiness and fun with him and lots of sneakers to wear out taking him for long walks.
You can find your own pet for adoption at the Home 4 the Holidays Adoption Celebration to be held on November 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oswego YMCA/Armory. Not only pets for adoption, also pet photos with Santa, kids’ activities, a Thanksgiving bake sale, a giant book sale, pet demonstrations, and lots of other interesting animal organizations to meet and greet.
It’s free and fun, and you might just meet your new best friend!
To see other pets available for adoption go to www.oswegohumane.org
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.
Phone (315) 207-1070.
We do not operate a shelter.
We receive no government funds and no funds from any national organization and depend upon the generosity of individuals and businesses for operating support.
You can help by placing your online shopping through www.Igive.com and making your regular search engine www.goodsearch.com and naming the Oswego County Humane Society to receive donations.
Because people & pets are good for each other.