Admitting your dog needs training might feel like a personal failure, but it's incredibly common for dogs and their owners to need a little bit of help — whether big or small — in some aspect of daily life. While there are some obvious signs it's time to get a dog trainer, there are also smaller behaviors that can be tough for owners to pick up that means more than you think. Here are five signs it might be time for you to consider bringing in a professional dog trainer.
Many dog owners call about their pet displaying issues rooted in worsening and aggressive behavior. If your dog is combative, it can be dangerous for you, the company you're with, and other dogs you happen to be around.
There are a variety of ways behavioral problems can emerge within a household. Worsening behavior can be as simple as your dog tugging or pulling on your leash as you lead them on a daily walk. In other instances, bad behavior can lead to snapping and biting around unknown individuals or other dogs. If you notice a previously manageable behavior becoming more frequent or worsening, it's time to call a professional.
Have you ever reached to grab an object from your dog — like a toy or treat — but were met with a sharp growl? This is referred to as resource guarding and is another telltale sign it's time to call a professional dog trainer. Resource guarding is a fairly common behavior in many dogs that manifests as an aggressive lunge or "snap" when removing a resource. The most common places this behavior can occur are around high-value food, treats, and toys.
However, this behavior can also appear in places of comfort, such as your bed or couch, so be sure to reach out to someone if you believe this is something you are experiencing. The only way to remove this behavior is to train your dog to respect when you say it's time to let go of an object.
Interruption to Daily Life
There are many ways to responsibly own a dog and integrate them into your household. However, if daily life begins to feel unmanageable due to their behavior, it may be time to bring in a professional. Little things like tugging on the leash while walking and more severe behaviors such as your dog tearing up the home when you leave can leave owners and dogs at an impasse.
These problems can also put extra emotional strain on owners, as the interruptions may be caused by their pets' fearful or anxious states of mind. While avoiding it can feel safer for you and your dog, working with a trainer to improve your dog's mental health is a great way to help break toxic cycles in your daily life that you've previously felt stuck in.
Barking can be for various reasons, including seeking attention, quelling boredom, alerting you of something they see, or defending their homes. While barking may sometimes be the desired behavior or something that can be easily adapted in a household, some dogs can become pathological in their barking to relieve untreated anxiety or stress. Remember, barking is really the only way for your dog to communicate effectively. So if they're under duress, they may bark to express that emotion.
Incessant barking can be extremely stressful for apartment or condo owners, and bringing in a professional can help speed up the process of reaching a manageable point. Trainers can help develop alternative behaviors to common sounds like car doors closing and doorbells that give your dog another option to think of.
Disregarding Known Commands
Most dog owners can train their dogs with relative ease in the comforts of a familiar and low-distraction environment. But, the addition of unknown variables really puts your training to the test. It's easy to tell your dog to sit and stay in the living room, but many owners know how it feels to take their dog into the outside world and have them completely ignore their training.
This is a sign that your dog is at a heightened state of arousal, and you may need the help of an experienced trainer to learn the signs your dog is feeling overly excited and help you find a way to assist your dog in relaxation. How can you tell that your dog might benefit from obedience class? Common examples are dogs with leash reactivity around dogs or people and unwanted aggressive or rowdy behavior when people come in and out of your home.
Research Local Trainers
Before reaching out, look to see what trainers are available in your area and what sort of handling philosophies they follow. Purely positive/force-free, least invasive, minimally adverse (LIMA), and balanced training are the three major camps that can help you select a trainer you feel will help your pup the best.
Before hiring a trainer, ask to sit in on a group training class. Most trainers have them, giving you a great idea of the relationship between trainer and dog. Remember to be considerate and leave your pup home, as your observation will generally cause fewer disruptions. Most trainers will also offer free consultations where you can pick their brains about more complicated issues or concerns you have. While social media accounts can be flashy and tempting, you're better off finding a trainer who shows real-life results you can witness first-hand.
Whether your dog has been through multiple trainers or you're struggling on your own to manage your dog's behavior, we are here to help. Contact DareDevil Dog Training for a professional board and train in Philadelphia and get back to enjoying life with your best friend!