When training your puppy there are four options to consider: enrolling in a class, sending the puppy away to be trained, training on your own, or working individually with a trainer. Whatever method you choose, the most successful training philosophies are the ones that use positive reinforcement rather than a punishment-based method.
There are a variety of training styles and philosophies to choose from. Some are more successful than others and some are not really recommended at all.
Should I Take a Class with my Puppy?
The first option is to take a class with your puppy. A vet might recommend a professional trainer near you. I take my mutt to an obedience class with about ten other people and puppies. I think it is a lot of fun and so does he. These classes run many times a year and last for about seven weeks. In this setting, a trainer works with the group on things like sitting, staying, and walking on a loose leash. The setting is a good way for puppies to get used to listening to their humans when there are a lot of distractions. Most instructors offer four or five levels of obedience, starting with puppy preschool through preparation for the show ring.
Should I Have an Expert Train my Puppy?
For a second option, you can take your puppy to a training facility either during the day (like day camp) or for a few weeks or months at a time. Someone else will then begin training your puppy. I never recommend this option but someone who is often traveling or too busy or simply unwilling to learn to train a puppy might see no other way. The reason I think this is a terrible idea is that a puppy learns to respect and respond to whoever trains them because the puppy will accept that person as a leader. For this reason, I will always train my own puppies. Some people expect their puppies to come back from places like these totally trained, and that just isn’t possible. Training a puppy takes years of commitment and never ends.
Having Someone else Train Your Puppy is not Recommended
A third choice is training your puppy on your own. The most difficult part of this is remaining focused enough to practice each day. If you have trained a puppy in the past and have the experience, then doing the training yourself might be best. You will be able to work on training when you decide and use your own techniques. You won’t have to pay a trainer, either. With all the books and videos out there on training puppies, you can find new ideas if you have problems.
Should I Hire a Private Trainer?
The fourth option is to work individually with a puppy trainer. This is good if you need to work on certain issues or if you have never trained or owned a puppy before. Most likely this will cost more, but it is worthwhile. If there is a group, a trainer will be speaking in more general terms and will not be able to focus specifically on you and your puppy. If you meet individually with a trainer, you can ask all the questions you want and he or she can get to know your puppy and make better suggestions.
Most Recommended Method
Each person and puppy are different, so you should use the best method for whatever puppy you own. Each trainer will have different ideas. Some will not allow training collars, like choke or prong collars, while others require them. I am hesitant about a trainer who believes every puppy should wear the same kind of collar. A powerful Doberman that is aggressive to other animals will not get by with the same collar as a miniature poodle wearing a nylon cat collar. The owner and trainer should use good judgment to decide what tools are best for each puppy and to use those tools properly. Many trainers are now using clickers and positive reinforcement only. With a clicker, a puppy hears a click the instant she does something right, eventually associating the click with the correct behavior. Other trainers simply use lots of treats and verbal praise and are just as successful.
Above all, you should pick the suitable training methods for your lifestyle and your puppy while being open to new ideas. For more information on dog training please go to this page.