How do I know when is my dog is REALLY trained?
A common question we get as pet dog trainers, is “when is my dog really fully trained?” Owners may also pose the question such as “when is my dog trained enough to be trusted off-leash?”
Those are tough questions for even the most experienced trainer to answer because there are so many variables to getting a dog “trained”. There are no universal standards in training dogs. Each dog training professional organization, and they are numerous, has some established guidance, but there are no standards to say a dog is successfully trained when it can do X, Y and Z.
While we have obedience and manners standards, we train dogs to and coach their owners on how to train and maintain those standards, they are just our recommendations, after years of training hundreds of dogs. Ultimately, owners will choose to maintain the parts and pieces that work for them. Those same owners may come back a few months later admitting they are ready to learn more of what we recommend. In the long run, we like to work with our clients to understand the goals THEY want to achieve for their dog(s) and cover that in our coaching too. Obedience and manners for dogs start with a foundation of skills that are built upon as the dog learns more and as the owners’ goals grow for their dog.
For our trainers at Woof in the Woods, basic foundational skills include teaching dogs complimentary skills to the standards and then helping coach the owner how they continue to teach, maintain and build upon these skills. There are many nuances to training too. A dog’s genetics and instinct greatly affect the success of training, as well as the frustration level of owners. Some dogs are genetically very nervy, while others are overly confident, some are stubborn, others have not been socialized to the world outside of their home and crate. Most are hungry for more structure and guidance from their owners. Each of these dogs requires a slightly different approach to training. It is imperative that owners and trainers alike recognize that dogs are unique and their training may be very diverse to be successful. Take the nervous dog that won’t take a treat of food as a reward…if your only approach is to continually treat them, your training is dead in the water. Specialty leashes, collar, harnesses and other tools are not what trains the dog…the person holding the leash is what trains the dog. The tools are just helpers to make training easier, quicker and keep the attention of the dog.
Unfortunately, there is no little magical bag of pixie dust that we sell that suddenly changes a naughty dog into a magnificent companion….if only it were THAT easy, I would be selling them by the case!
For us at Woof in the Woods, our standards are high. We love to be able to coach our owners towards incorporating training into everyday life with their dog that looks like…
- The ability for an owner to comfortably take their dog on a walk around their neighborhood or around their local park, or on a public outing, on a loose leash walk without pulling or being reactive.
- A dog who can remain calm and relaxed in the face of typical, daily distractions, both in the home and outside the home.
- A dog who has an ON/OFF switch and does not assume that all dogs or people around them are there to be played with (i.e. we strive for peaceful, calm co-existence).
- Dogs being able to enjoy hikes or traveling with their owners for beautiful, fun, peaceful life experiences and time with family and friends.
- Owners that do not unduly stress out their dogs and dogs that have the same respect for their owners.
- Owners that have hobbies that they do together safely and happily with their dogs.
I love seeing a dog enjoying riding around with their human companion, windows down with the breeze blowing through their hair. Other dogs are couch potatoes, which is fine too, if their owners are fine with that. Whatever it takes to remove stressors, gain respectful behaviors and increase the joy in the human-canine bond, we are all for and guarantee we will help our clients move towards those goals, starting from the foundation and building upwards.