Canine behaviour: Take your puppy to an expert trainer

Karen Wild with her class
Karen Wild with her class
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Puppies need expert understanding

It has become the normal choice to take a puppy to training class and socialisation sessions. Not only does this show the improvement in responsible attitudes towards dogs, but it also recognises that pups need a bit more effort if they are to develop into sensible and steady adults.

However, along with this increase in demand has grown an increase in people wishing to work with dogs in this environment. There are many courses on offer that will happily take money and promise a qualification after a very brief attendance - even distance learning!

This is of great concern.

Loving dogs and wanting to work with them is a great ambition, but it is also essential that we recognise the expertise of the trainer or class we take our beloved pups to. After all, we would not choose a dentist who had done a couple of weeks training and treated it as a hobby, even if they showed us a certificate. We would not want a swimming instructor for our children who had learned it from a book. We would certainly not ask someone to fix the brakes on our car if they had not spent many months, even years, apprenticed to a qualified mechanic. So, why would we think someone who 'loves dogs' would be suitable for our pups when they do not have the relevant registration, certification, experience and apprenticeship?

The legal situation with dog ownership is now so complex that it could be deemed irresponsible and even negligent if an owner does not show that they have offered their family pet the chance to learn, and from a gentle, properly qualified instructor. Go and see a class and decide, long before you take your puppy. Are they yanking the dogs on a lead? Are they marching in circles? Using water squirters? Alternatively, are they only stewarding the class through exercises or are they in fact coaching, which is what an instructor should do by definition. Are they a part time or hobbyist, or full time in this career?

Do your research and take proper care to choose, even if it means travelling a bit further for the right person. Ask questions and check the details. Your family dog deserves the best, and so do you, as part of a lifelong dog-owner team.