Something about dogs... Maybe it's because most people have one, or have had one, makes most people a self proclaimed expert. Also, there has been dog training on tv over the past decade resulting in even more experts. Let's play a game. Post in your Facebook status any dog training question and see how many different answers you get. Most of you will get a lot of different answers. I do understand that once someone has done something and it has worked for them they do feel comfortable giving advice to others about how they did it. I get that. But teaching dogs is different than fixing a leaky faucet. If you do something accidentally to mess up a faucet it isn't the end of the world. It's just a faucet. But if we take incorrect advice in regards to teaching our dogs it can go horribly wrong. If you view dogs like I do then you don't look at them as leaky faucets that can just be replaced.
Where Should I Get Advice?
Should you ask your friends? Check the internet? Hire a trainer? Go to the library? Does anyone go to the library anymore?
As you can see there are a lot of potential sources out there. The internet is probably the main way people look up information these days. This is equally as troubling. To be honest, it can be just as bad as taking advice from a friend or a stranger.
The internet is full of self proclaimed experts. You can even find incorrect information on big companies websites. Recently I saw a big pet food company that was still talking about ways to train your dog that were discovered decades ago and were proven to be incorrect decades ago... It's bad.
My advice is to be careful. Look for an author of the article you're reading. If you see an author, do a little research of who they are. How long have they been working with dogs for? Do they have any formal education? Are they giving advice that is telling you to be "alpha" or "pack leader." (If they are they need more education.) If they are also giving advice telling you that your dog needs a strong hand or are giving any advice that you need to physically correct your dog.
Should I Hire A Trainer?
If you're having difficulty accomplishing something with your dog then my answer would be yes. Hiring a qualified trainer can be very beneficial and make your job easier. But once again, how do you know your potential trainer is a good fit? How do you know that trainer knows what s/he is doing? Click here to read more on this topic and to help you find the right trainer. Ultimately though hiring "the right" trainer can make life with your dog much easier. If you click those orange letters there is a lot of advice on what to look for and where to locate your help.
Why Is Taking Random Advice A Bad Idea?
As I mentioned above, dogs are not leaky faucets. They are living, breathing creatures that have a brain. They are smart, social, and easily impressionable. This means that if we do something incorrectly it can have side effects. If my dog is doing something wrong and I decide to resort to doing something physical to stop it, this may result in my dog now fearing me. I mention "something physical" because most of the advice you will receive from random people is going to come in the form of physically punishing your dog. While I'm not saying that it definitely won't work, what I am saying is that there will more than likely be side effects. For example; If my dog is play biting my arm and I decide to whack him on the nose for doing so, it may stop the play biting, but it could also result in a dog that now views human hands as a source of pain and could ultimately result in my dog biting someone who is just innocently reaching out to pet him. It's things like this that a lot of people don't take into consideration. Most random advice is going to give you an answer that will fix the problem immediately. I am here to tell you that in most cases, something that fixes the problem immediately will have side effects. These side effects will be way worse than the initial problem. You will then decide to call a trainer and it will take a heck of a lot longer to modify.
I'm not saying you need to be a professional trainer to give advice. But I also kind of am. If you are seriously having a behavioral issue with your dog I recommend contacting a certified trainer. They can give you the correct answers you need for curbing the unwanted behavior. Please do not take free advice from random friends. While it won't always come back to bite you in the butt, there will be times where it will. (And I mean literally your dog biting you in the butt.) If any of this sounds harsh or offensive please understand that it isn't my intention. You and your dog's well being is why I am writing this.