The search for a dog trainer plagued me and Rocknroll_ELLE for several months. First there was the “alleged” Dog Whisperer of the neighbourhood who is studying to be a zoologist who failed to show up or cancel last-minute several times. We would run into him and he would act like we went on a few dates and it went bad. Seriously. Next we went to a puppy class where we learned “your pet doesn’t work for beef jerky, it works for love” and apparently if that doesn’t work use a choking collar. I used the American Kennel Club for references and found one I liked but she was getting married and occupied with that.
Finally our neighbour insisted we use Dog Boy Inc. His logo is pretty awesome and I was glad that someone I knew had used him before and low and behold we had a winner. Robert Haussman, aka Dog Boy, has trained Elle to even roll over and play dead aka “bang bang.” I think it’s an absolute necessity of any urban dog owner to get some kind of training for their dog and so happy I found a really excellent one!
1. What questions should a pet owner ask about a potential dog trainer?
The thing to be aware of when hiring a dog trainer is that training is a fairly unregulated field.
A. Ask if they have any certification. The certification council for profession dog trainers has a pretty good track record and has an online database of trainers for dog owners who are in the market.
B. I would also ask what their method of training is and be sure it is humane in nature and doesn’t revolve primarily around dominance, or shocking and choking your dog. Although leadership is a key element to a healthy relationship with your dog, many trainers mistaken this for the need to use force to force the dog to submit which is nonsense and has a tendency to do more harm then good.
C. Last I would ask for referrals. Be specific, if you have an aggressive pit bull than ask for a referral of someone with an aggressive bit bull who they have worked with.
2. In your opinion is training a dog necessary for urban dogs? All dogs?
I think training your dog is the ultimate way to spoil you dog. It is responsible pet ownership to be sure your dog knows what is expected of him and what is appropriate behavior in the humane environment that he shares with you. You can’t punish him for rules he doesn’t know he has broken. So yes absolutely!
3. A couple of weeks ago a delivery man who was mauled by 3 pitbulls in Brooklyn. There were signs posted saying ‘beware of the dog’ but he did not speak English. One of the dogs died in the mayhem and the other two were ceased and await action. Do you think those Pitbulls are trainable to be aggressive but not immediately attack a person who is in their space?
That’s tough to say. More than anything it is a responsibility issue for the owner. If you have dogs for the purpose of protection (which I am not a fan of in the first place) there should be preventive steps in place to ensure the safety of the community you live in. You wouldn’t leave a loaded gun out on the coffee table during a dinner party, someone could get hurt or worse. Pit bulls get a very bad reputation because of owners like this. These particular dogs we’re likely trained to be aggressive and poorly trained at that. I think it boils down to stupidity. And it is unlikely that the dogs will be able to be trained to be selective about who is and is not allowed on the property. This is an issue I take to heart since I love the bread and so many are put down each year because of stupid humans.
4. In your experience, who needs the training more the humans or the canines?
Humans! Lol. Dogs are fairly predictable, humans are always a wild card…
5. A lot of new dog owners face the challenge of training their dogs but strangers want to pet their dog and throw off the behaviour. What are some tips for to avoid the awkward neighbor from rewarding your dog with affection while you are training your dog?
Try and involve them! Tell them you are in training and you can really use their help. They will either joyfully participate or recoil in horror. If someone is particularly uncooperative tell them your puppy is sick and highly contagious…lol.