What should I expect?
Interested in getting your dog started in training, but not sure what to expect? Here's a few tips.
First of all, no matter what training program you choose for your dog, the results are dependent on your commitment, consistency, and the time you put into practicing with your dog. Even if your dog performs perfectly for his trainer, if you take him home and allow all of the same bad behaviors that you did before training, your dog will believe that nothing has changed.
Many people ask "Can I teach an old dog new tricks?" Of course you can! In fact, the majority of the dogs I work with are adults. However, If you have a new puppy, you should start training right away. It's much easier to prevent bad behavior in a puppy, than to fix a bad habit that may be years old with hundreds or maybe thousands of repetitions. If you have an older dog with behavior problems, do understand that it takes time and patience to fix those bad habits.
During In-home or private training lessons, you will receive coaching on how to work with your dog. The trainer does some of the work, but the trainer's job is really to teach you how to work with your own dog. In most cases, progress is really made in between scheduled visits. You should be prepared to put in at the very least 15 minutes of practice a day in between in-home visits. You will also receive coaching on other aspects of your dog's care, including feeding, exercise, grooming, handling and health-- because it is all relevant to behavior.
One exception to this model would be difficult cases, usually involving aggression or reactivity. In this case, you might be avoiding your dog's triggers until you've had enough time and practice during controlled private lessons and you're ready to work with your dog on your own. Behavior issues like aggression or reactivity tend to take much longer to work with, and in many cases you'll be learning how to manage the behavior in addition to learning training techniques to fix it.
Every dog is different, so there is no 'time frame' for training. Ultimately how much training you want your dog to receive is up to you, and I can't make you do more than that. But I do hope that you will work with me to teach your dog the basics, especially commands that could potentially save his life one day, and manners that can keep him out of trouble.
On average, the basic obedience commands (sit, down, come, stay, leave it, heel) and basic manners in the home may take 4 to 6 lessons to accomplish. After basic obedience is complete, we'll begin to introduce reliability with new settings (outdoors, outings to local stores or parks), distractions, more complexity to the commands. The more you work with your dog, the more you'll get out of the training!