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How to Talk to Your New Fur Kid: There’s a Trainer for That. But Which One?

Pet Care Tips 6 min read
How to Talk to Your New Fur Kid: There’s a Trainer for That. But Which One?

So you just adopted a dog?! Congratulations! This is a really exciting time. And a big transition for everyone/pup involved. You probably have a lot of questions (and more than a few concerns too). Trust us when we say, so does your new furkid!

And since your dog is not a mind reader, you guys will need to create this new dialogue together.

It’s gonna take a while for you guys to get to know each other. Like human babies, your pup wasn’t born with a vocabulary. The way we see it is that the best way to get to know each other (and establish a long-lasting bond) is to develop a language that both your pup and your family can understand. Just as in any other relationship, communication is the key to success! And since your dog is not a mind reader, you guys will need to create this new dialogue together.

The easiest and most sure-fire way to do this is by hiring a professional dog trainer to facilitate the transition and teach the whole family how to communicate. You might think a trainer just educates your pup on right from wrong, but in fact, trainers are super helpful in establishing a language for everyone to employ. Remember, you guys are in this together.

Tips for Finding the Right Dog Trainer for You

But how do you go about finding a dog trainer? And how do you make sure you have found the right one? These are great questions! So we outlined some ways for you to find a trainer that’s perfect for your pup and your family.

1. Do The Research:

The easiest place to start is by asking around. Do you have friends or family with dogs? If not, you could try going to your local dog park and make some new dog-family friends. Watch how the parents interact with their dog and ask yourself; do you think their dogs are “good dogs”? Do they look bonded with their humans? Are the parents and pups communicating well with each other?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then go ahead and ask them who they used! When choosing a professional (be it a dentist, hairstylist, or chiropractor), nothing feels as safe as having someone recommend “their person.”

dog playing with parents| petyen|NHV Natural

If you’re not fortunate enough to know or befriend any dog families, then Google is a great tool to begin your search. Start by looking up everything you can about the trainers in your neighborhood. Read about their methods and take note of their educational backgrounds. Look at how long they have been in business, what formal training they have had, and if any programs/institutions have accredited them. Just remember, when using Google it is important to approach the information with a critical eye. You can’t trust ALL online reviews, snazzy websites, or testimonies. But it’s a great place to start to help you narrow down your choices.

2. Learn The Terms:

There are SO many different types of training methods and tools out there! Trainers can implement lure-reward methods with treats or positive reinforcement techniques like clicker training (to name a few). They can call themselves trainers, behavior consultants, behaviorists, or dog psychologists. They can use slip collars, e-collars, crates, or harnesses as aids. In order to determine what kind of trainers/methodologies might work for you, it’s important to understand what all these different terms and approaches mean. We suggest checking out The Association of Professional Dog Trainers website to learn more about the various tools and different areas of focus.

Once you have a grasp of what the terms mean and have identified a few trainers in your neighborhood, the next step would be to schedule a visit and watch them in action! A confident, professional trainer should be more than happy to have you sit in on one of their classes (we would be wary of anyone who refuses that courtesy). Take note of how they interact with both the humans and the dogs. Do they look engaged? Enthusiastic? Supportive? Or are they being combative or disparaging?

By watching the trainer you will not only get a better understanding of their practices but also get a better sense of their character and temperament. The trainer’s personality should mesh with yours; remember you are entrusting them with your new kid (so you guys will want to be simpatico).

Visiting the trainer will also give you a good sense of their facilities. Presumably, you will want the safest, cleanest environment for your dog to learn. When conditions are not up to par infection and disease, like Kennel Cough, can spread easily. There are simple remedies for such afflictions, like NHV Natural Pet Product’s vet-approved Kennel Cough Kit, but in general, it would be best to avoid these conditions altogether. So take a look around and make sure the place is clean, has safety precautions like gated doors intact, and that the environment is welcoming for you and your dog. 

3. Ask the Questions:

These days, it’s very easy for anyone to call themselves a “trainer.” There is no definitive regulation on what constitutes a professional dog trainer (anyone can just slap the title on their resume). So don’t be shy! Trainers work for you and your dog, and the great ones don’t come cheap, so you better make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. It is essential to ask each trainer about their credentials (and for you to know what each one of them means). Here is a shortlist of helpful acronyms to look for (you’ll definitely want your trainer to have one of these in their title):

1. CTC: means they have completed an advanced, two-year program from the Academy for Dog Trainers, which covers both dog training and behavior.

2. KPA CTP: means the trainer has taken the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional program (which according to Companion Animal Psychology is one of the most advanced, rigorous programs)

3. CPDT-KA, CPDT-KSA, or CBCC-KA: means the trainer has been certified by the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers and can use the title “Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Knowledge-Assessed”.

mom hugging her dog| petyen|NHV Natural

These clues won’t answer all of your questions, but they are valuable in determining which trainer is the most proficient and professional. If you’re still struggling at the end of your research, we would also suggest contacting your local veterinarian. They might be able to offer new insight or at least provide additional questions you can pose to the trainer.

Other Tricks to Try

The steps outlined above are meant to inform and guide your thinking, but the truth is there is nothing as valuable as trusting your gut. But while you are searching for your doggy facilitator, here are also a few other ways you could help ease the transition:

1. Make sure to create an inviting, cozy space for your new pup. It’s always advisable to establish boundaries as soon as possible. If you don’t think you will want your furkid hanging on the couch, then be sure to have a comfy bed available in a pre-defined space so they know exactly where their place is in the house.

2. Just like human babies, young dogs crave stimulation. Don’t underestimate the value of some good (sturdy) toys! Not only will this help to keep your dog engaged, but they can afford you some R&R when you just can’t throw a tennis ball any longer…

3. It stands to reason that your new pup might be skittish when they arrive in their new home, so try researching some safe, natural methods that could help calm them down while they explore their new environment. Trying something like NHV Natural Pet Products’ LessStress For Dogs, a formula geared towards reducing anxiety, could be a great option for calming your new dog’s nerves.

4. As we have said before, there is no drawback to asking a professional (and there is no such thing as a stupid question!). So try reaching out to a forum, a meetup group, or the APDT to help you narrow down your choices (because real professionals always know best!).

Julie Feldman is a born and raised New Yorker who has raised many of her own New York fur-kids. She is currently a proud mother to her rescue cat O.C, and a doting aunt to her nieces Uma, the German Shepherd, and Ren, the Welsh Terrier. Julie is a firm believer that New York City is best experienced with a dog (or outdoor cat) as your co-pilot.
Julie PetYen New York

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Published: August 25, 2017

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