do you train your dog?

Do You Train Your Dog?

Are you one of the few people that train their dog?

Did you know that less than twenty five percent of owners attend a training class with their dog. We offer resources for the majority who don’t. Today we are going to dive into the reasons why and how we can change it. This is an alarming episode but one that must be told. Please, if you are a dog owner, do something about it. One of the best things you can do is tell your dog owning friends about this podcast, Dog Works Radio. Let’s get started.

Are you one of the few people that train your dog? As a professional dog trainer, I find it tragic that less than twenty five percent of owners take their dog to a class or sign up for a training program. I don’t find it tragic for business reasons, where I run at a fast pace to keep up with demand. I sometimes wonder if Mom and Pop training centers like mine are doing enough for the pet owners of our area. The tragedy is that dogs who never receive proper socialization and training can end up paying for it with their lives — after being abandoned, turned in to a shelter, or seized because of a bite incident. Just this week I have visited with 10 clients, several of them reported to me that many of their neighbors have puppies or new dogs close in age to their new puppies and told me that those neighbors aren’t interested in any professional dog training or guidance.

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That all means that as many as 75 percent of the dogs in this country never receive professional training — with more than 83 million dogs here, that works out to 62 million dogs. Dogs are dying in the millions at shelters, and bites continue to increase.

What can change these two horrible scenarios? Education. But the education needs to be salient and of real-world value to the owner, convenient, and — for the dog’s sake — pain-free. A couple of organizations make an attempt to get owners to classes with their dogs. More can and should be done, but here’s what happening now:

According to a recent American Pet Product Association National Pet Owners Survey, four percent of the dogs in the U.S. take a training class. An article in the Journal of the American Animal Hospitalization Association seems to confirm that dim percentage, noting that only 4.7 percent of puppies in a particular study had attended a socialization class. Meanwhile, recent research found that 25 percent of owners participate in classes with their dogs.

The Association of the Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) for the fifth year in a row has declared January to be National Train Your Dog Month. The organization offers free owner handouts on such important topics as busting dominance myths and tips for kids and pets. The group also has a Train Your Dog Month social media contest for its members.

The APDT offers a wealth of information to the pet owner via our website, social media live chats with training experts, links to training books and DVDs, and so much more. Many APDT members host local Train Your Dog Month events and feature training discounts as well. While this effort is not a large or necessarily loud one that many dog owners seem to know about, it’s a start.

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The American Kennel Club is a nonprofit organization that makes millions of dollars every year. The group attempts to reach owners with one day of the year with its Responsible Dog Ownership Day. One day a year? Really? How about 365 days a year?

The AKC does have a link on its website that “promotes responsible ownership,” and it suggests 101 ways to be a responsible owner. Some of the tips are good indeed, such as “clean up your dog’s poop” and “spay and neuter your dog,” although the AKC is a breed registry that makes money from its membership … of breeders. It would go broke in a hurry if members stopped the breeding as suggested.

Tip No. 75 out of the 101 ways to be a responsible owner,  is way out of date, however: It urges owners to “be the alpha dog.” That’s known as the dominance theory, and it has been totally rebuked as not relevant to how dogs learn. Dogs are not trying to dominate you. Period. Please Google “dominance theory rebuked” if you have any doubts. Scientists and behaviorists with advanced degrees galore have posted information pleading with dog owners not to listen to that outdated information.

A relatively new organization, The Pet Professional Guild provides a terrific amount of education and member benefits at no cost to pet owners. Membership is free, and it has more than 10 areas of handouts, videos, and articles on its website.

I applaud these organization for trying to reach into the hearts and minds of dog owners. We need to do more, however, because the current rate of only twenty-five percent of dogs getting professional training is beyond dismal. We need owners to look at their precious puppy and recognize that pup did not come to them trained. It is up to the human being in this partnership to get yourself and your dog to a class, preferably before he hits the 20-week mark. If you don’t get into a class and aren’t properly socializing your new best friend by the time his brain is 20-weeks old, you are literally playing catchup for the rest of that dog’s life.

I challenge Alaska Dog Works readers: Take ONE four-week class with a local trainer. Just ONE.

Take the class when your dog is a puppy, and you will be putting a solid foundation on your dog for the rest of his life. Dogs need to learn in the presence of other dogs, as they will be encountering dogs in the real world for the rest of their canine lives.

Have you attended a class with your dog? Are you going to? Tell us in the comments!