Get a Proper Education

If you find that you need training help beyond the scope of this book, finding a training school or private trainer can be one of the best investments you'll make. Look for an individual who shows compassion for both you and your dog—someone who responds openly to your questions on everything from potty training to leash walking.

Find Additional Training Help

PRIVATE INSTRUCTION

It is important to like and agree with the person you choose to help you handle your dog. There are many good dog trainers, but finding an individual who can teach you is just as important. Here are a few questions to help you pinpoint your search:

• How long have you been in this business?

• May I speak to someone regarding your techniques?

• What books or websites do you recommend?

• What is your experience with my breed (or with shelter dogs or mixed breeds)?

It's best to find someone who is willing to answer these questions openly. A good trainer is usually busy helping dogs, so be respectful of her time: wait to ask for specific advice about your dog until you meet her face to face.

Your Dog's Worldview chapter

GROUP CLASS

Look for a class with six to eight dogs that groups dogs by age and ability. If you have a puppy, enroll him in a puppy kindergarten class. It is good for socialization. Ask if the class allows for off-leash playtime, and if you have a smaller breed, ask if there is a separate room or area for your dog to play in.

If your older dog is afraid or aggressive toward other dogs or has an extreme issue such as excessive barking, ask how the instructor deals with that situation. Also inquire if the instructor uses a specific training collar. In my classes, I offer a choice of five collars, since each dog is unique and needs specific equipment to help him learn. Finally, ask about the instructive philosophy for discipline—does the teacher discipline dogs in class?

When asking these questions, ask yourself if you are comfortable with this person and her answers. If you're not, look for other groups; you have choices.

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