I’ve just done an interview. I thought I would share the questions I was asked:
Question 1 – At what age should a dog start to be trained and does it vary from breed to breed?
A dog or puppy of any breed can start training shortly after you bring it home. This is important so that you can establish boundaries and gain better control over your dog through obedience. Puppies are generally easier to train than older dogs. However, this doesn’t mean it’s never too late to train an older dog and owners should not adhere to the old saying that “you can never teach an old dog, new tricks” because you certainly can! I have trained puppies as young as 8 weeks old up to dogs as old as 10 years old!
Question 2 – Are some breeds of dogs more difficult to train – if so, why?
Some breeds of dogs are more challenging to train than others. This is usually due to the fact that some breeds learn commands very easily and some breeds need more time and patience to learn. An example of this is the British Bulldog. These dogs are strong willed and rather stubborn and will usually only follow a command if they feel like it! I have trained many a Bulldog who has turned its nose up at my request but I think this is what adds to the quirkiness of the breed. Bulldogs need time and patience to be trained and so do some other breeds. Malamutes, Beagles and Shiba Inus all need a patient owner!
Question 3 – Dogs are popular family pets and you must see a high percentage of first time dog owners. What advice do you have in terms of dog training?
If you are a first time dog owner, it can be a little over-whelming when you bring your new dog or puppy home. My advice would be to do your research first. Owning a dog is a big responsibility and training takes up a lot of your time at first. Join a Dog Obedience Class in your area or get help from a trained professional. Don’t let training issues get out of hand and seek help before the problem becomes a much bigger one!
Question 4 – Do you use a particular method of dog training for all breeds, or does it depend?
I use the same training method for all dog breeds. This is the “Positive Reinforcement” training method. Positive reinforcement is anything added that follows a behaviour that makes it more likely that the behaviour will occur again in the future. A good example of this would be teaching a dog to SIT. You lure the dog into a SIT with a treat and once the dog’s backside hits the floor, you deliver the treat. The dog soon learns that offering the behaviour (SIT) more often, gets himself a treat. After the command has been learnt, the treats are phased out slowly. There are many examples of training using “Positive Reinforcement” methods on YouTube to watch.
Question 5 – What advise can you give in choosing a Dog Trainer?
There are many Dog Trainers to choose from and it can be overwhelming for an owner to select the right one for their needs. When choosing a trainer to work with you and your dog, it is important to select carefully and only hire a qualified trainer who uses “Positive Reinforcement” techniques, to help you with your problem or training issue. Dog Training is fairly unregulated in the UK, therefore potentially “anybody” can claim to be a Dog Trainer!
There are reputable and well respected organisations (APDT & IMDT to name a few) that offer certification and on going assessments of their qualified trainers and owners need to bear this in mind when selecting a suitable qualified and insured Dog Trainer professional.
Question 6 – What does it take to train a dog as a typical dog owner?
Training your dog takes time and effort. But I always tell clients with a new puppy that a few months of hard work will set you up for the next 12 years of their life and surely that is worth the effort. I believe all dogs should work towards knowing the eight essential commands needed to become a well behaved member of the family. These commands are WATCH ME (focus) – SIT – DOWN – STAY – COME – LEAVE IT – DROP IT – HEEL. Once your dog knows these commands, incorporate them into your daily routine and you’ll be on your way to owning a well behaved dog.
Question 7 – What common mistakes do owners make through dog ownership?
I think the two mistakes owners make while dog training is firstly thinking that their dog is a small human-being in a furry suit! They’re not – they’re dogs and should be treated like dogs. Dogs do not feel the same complex emotions as we do like guilt and pride although they do feel more simple emotions like fear and excitement. They prefer relationships built on kindness, with structure and boundaries. Dogs prefer to obey – it provides them with security.
The second mistake that owners make is not exercising their dog enough. Many of the training and behavioural problems I encounter like destruction, digging, barking etc decrease dramatically when the owners start exercising them more. A tired dog is usually a happy and calm dog!
Question 8 – Can you tell us some funny dog training situations I’ve encountered in my career?
There’s always a funny story or two when you’re working with animals! I was once called to see a client who was having difficulty teaching her toy poodle basic obedience commands. When I arrived at her house, the dog had clearly dressed for the occasion in a bright pink tutu complete with matching ballet pumps!! It took me all morning to persuade the owner to undress her little poodle and explain to her that her dog will find it a lot easier to follow commands “Au Naturel”! This was a classic example of the owner thinking their dog is a small human in a furry suit.
Lastly, I was once called to see a dog that had taken over the household. When I arrived, expecting to be greeted by the dog at the door, I was surprised when there was no dog in sight. When I asked the owner where her dog was, she replied “oh – he’s in the dining room”. I walked into the dining room and found a very large dog sprawled out on top of the dining room table!! I turned to the owner and said “where on earth do you all eat”. She replied wearily “in the kitchen now – because we can’t get him off that table”. This is an example of not setting the right boundaries through training and letting the dog make their own decisions hence doing whatever they want!
To follow up or make an appointment or find out more information about Ringwood Dogs, Ashley Heath on the Hampshire and Dorset border, please contact Isabelle Adams-Papé by clicking on the Contact Me tab.
I look forward to meeting you and working with your dogs.
Happy dog training.