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Training Your Dog: Ten Things to Know

When trying to decide where to go for dog training,
Consider these 10 key questions:

#1 Do I need a dog trainer?

A dog with a goofy smile--with dog training you see that sometimes
Dogs live 13+ years, and these can be wonderful or terrible years, since most dogs need training in the way that most children need school. A qualified dog trainer can show you how to communicate with your dog and steer you away from pitfalls. A good trainer can give you the building blocks to make life with your dog a joy. The investment in professional dog training will improve the quality of life for you and your dog. As a result, you will be able to take you dog anywhere, and your dog will have more freedom to live a full, rich life.
At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we make it easy to get your dog trained. We train your dog for you, and then we teach you to work with your well-trained dog. We also offer fun classes you may want to attend.
We save you:
  • Time—We’ve studied how dogs learn, and we don’t waste time with ineffective, “hand me down” information and techniques that put more pressure on your dog than necessary.
  • Effort—We’ve studied how people learn, which allows us to make learning easy and fun for the owners too.
  • Money—We can save you money by reducing or eliminating pet damage to your home and possessions. We can certainly save you from pet-related liability issues.
  • Heartache—Let us save you from the heartache of loosing a pet due to lack of training. We want to help you establish a healthy relationship with your dog, so you can avoid serious issues later.

#2 What Kind of Training Should I get?

A well-mannered puppy already showing the effects of good dog training

Consider what you want to do with your dog

Do you want a good all-around family pet that is generally polite? Do you want to compete in obedience, learn agility, dock diving, dog dancing, lure coursing, hunting, therapy, tracking, tricks, protection work or need an Assistance or Emotional Support Animal? Do you need housebreaking?
If you are interested in an all-around polite, family dog, look for a positive trainer who is willing to design a program to meet your needs or a class whose goals are aligned with what you want to achieve. For specialty training, seek out trainers who either compete and have at least 5 years or more experience in your field of interest.
At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we train puppies and dogs with love to be well adjusted and well behaved at home and out in public. Our goal is happy, polite pet behavior, rather than rigid obedience that only works for short spurts at a training center. We also teach housebreaking and work with dogs intended as Emotional Support Animals.

#3 How Do I Know If A Trainer is Positive?

This picture of a spiked dog collar and the dog's bleeding neck show an example of bad dog training practices
Animals can now be taught to do amazing, reliable behaviors without the pain and force of yesterday. Ask a perspective trainer what reinforcements and punishment they use. If the trainer will be using treats, how will they get the dog to continue to do the behaviors without the treats? Many old-school dog trainers use positive buzzwords but in truth practice many useless, dangerous and outdated techniques. Think twice if a trainer says that punishment based training using choke, prong or electric collars are safe and effective. Some even claim they are positive! This is not true. Pain training may achieve some short-term goals but it doesn’t make your dog want to come to you or be around you. Using pain training can scare a dog and cause aggression. Positive trainers know a variety of ways to motivate dogs to behave well and to discourage undesirable behavior.
At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we are positive, loving, science-based trainers. We have the training and experience to teach people and dogs, depending on the way the learner likes to learn. We stay fresh and current on the latest techniques.

#4 Do I Need To Check A Trainer’s Credentials?

Dog Trainer's framed diplomas
Absolutely! Dog training is an unregulated field. Anyone can claim to be a dog trainer. Find the highest genuinely credentialed trainer you can.
All those letters after a name are significant. The more credentialed the trainer, the more time the trainer has spent learning scientific theory and techniques. Most training done by amateurs or uneducated trainers is in direct opposition to what really works. To keep credentialed, trainers must attend continuing education. This enables your trainer to achieve the quickest results with the least amount of pressure on you and your dog.
You can look up the associations on the internet and search the roster for a trainer’s name. Many trainers boast credentials they haven’t earned. Be careful to note the difference between training certifications and training associations. Simply joining an association does not guarantee that the trainer has knowledge or skills, sometimes it just means they’ve paid a small fee to use the association’s logo.
At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we have the highest credentials. We are Certified Canine Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT-KA), American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Trainers/Judges (AKC CGC), Mirror Method Trainers/Judges, and belong to the American Pet Dog Trainer Association (APDT), the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).

#5 How Much Difference Does Experience Make With Dog Training?

A woman and a dog sit back-to-back, disgusted with each other. An experienced trainer can make all the difference.

Experience is the most important factor of all. Working with a trainer that has more than 10 years’ experience means they will be able to spot issues early and help you navigate around pitfalls. Experienced trainers have a variety of ways to teach things, depending on the learner, so sessions are fresh, fun and productive. Inexperienced trainers often only know one way to teach something and become frustrated if the person or dog doesn’t respond well.

At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we have more than 40 years of experience. In that time, we’ve seen a huge array of problems and solutions. We can usually spot potentially disastrous issues early on and solve them quickly.We work with a lot of animals and have very good timing so dogs get the fast feedback they need to learn quickly. We’ve also had a lot of practice teaching people so, although the field of animal behavior is complex, we’ve learned how to communicate clearly and easily. Inexperienced trainers are often not sure about what they’re teaching and can be difficult for people and dogs to understand.

#6 How Do I Know If A Trainer is Being Kind Or Not To My Dog?

A walking man with a frightened-looking dog. A dog that walks like has been trained using fear and intimidation.

Listen to your gut. If a trainer is doing something and your dog looks confused or scared, it isn’t right. If the trainer requires tools like choke, prong or electric collars, they aren’t using the latest, most effective techniques. If your dog is being trained elsewhere and you can’t see the training, drop in unannounced and watch. If someone that tells you they work 7 days a week or ridiculous hours, this isn’t living a balanced life and you are liable to suffer the consequences. A successful private trainer may see 1-4 clients a day at most, a trainer at a school might train up to 8 dogs a day and still be cheerful, a class instructor with several assistants should have 12 dogs or less for optimum attention.

At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we work with enough dogs to stay fluent but not too many to avoid being tired and cranky. We purposefully limit the number of dogs we train so we’re fresh and positive. We don’t use any tools of punishment. At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we have an inside joke about those tools-we call them “loser weapons”!

#7 Should I Get A Trainer Who Works With Just My Dog or Works With Me and My Dog Together? 

a dog sitting and looking up at his master while trainer looks on

Select a trainer that will work with both you and your dog. Most dog trainers can get a dog to work for them but that doesn’t help you. Even if you select a board and train program, be sure you can work with the trainer and your dog as much as possible during the training process. In private lessons or classes, be careful of the trainers that handle your dog themselves frequently. A good trainer should be able to explain what the goal is and break the process down into easy to understand steps so you can do the handling yourself. You should be given well written handouts to assist you at home.

At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we work with you and your dog. Not only do we train the two of you together, we continue to work with you so that the behaviors are done with one quiet command, with or without treats in any situation.

#8 How Can I Get The Training To Work In The Real World?

A well-trained dog is a pleasure to take out in public. Here we see a couple sitting with relaxed dog at outdoor cafe.

Training a dog to do a behavior is the easy part. Getting a dog to do the behavior in new situations with high distractions or when he doesn’t want to- is the hard part. This is what separates “the men from the boys” in the world of dog training. After the behavior is taught, there are 7 other steps that must be taken, to say that a dog is trained to do a behavior reliably. To achieve this, a trainer must have the knowledge, skill and experience to finish the training.

At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we know what steps, in what order, that must be taken to ensure that your dog will do what you’ve asked in any situation. This part of dog training is part science and part art. The science tells us what we should be doing and the art is the subjective judgement we use, based on vast experience, to determine how fast or slow to escalate, when to reward and when to hold back.

#9 How Do I Find A Trainer That Will Still Be Available To Help Me Later?

A woman wondering how to find a reputable dog trainer in her area.

Thinking about hiring a brand-new trainer? Where will they be in six months, a year? A good trainer will have been in business for several years. The reason they are still in business is because they did a good job with the dogs they’ve trained. They understand and are willing to work with you even after your dog is trained. They’re into dog training for the long haul. They know that some problems take a while to solve and new issues may develop along the way. The best way to pick a trainer that will be here tomorrow is by picking one that has been around for a lot of yesterdays.

At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we have been in business for over 40 years. We are training second, third and fourth generations of pets for people. This speaks volumes about how our clients feel about our training.

#10 Should I Do Something to Socialize My Dog So It Doesn’t Wind Up Fearful of Aggressive?

An aggressive dog lunging at another dog shows one of the scariest problems with un-trained dogs.

Yes! People often think a dog has been abused, when often, it has just missed proper socialization during the “Critical Fear Period,” which occurs between the ages of 3 weeks and 3 months. What occurs during this highly sensitive time sets the tone for the rest of a dog’s life.

If deprived of the right kind of exposure to people, animals, and situations during the Critical Fear Period, dogs have an increased risk of fear and aggression.
American Veterinary Medical Association.

Ask perspective trainers if they are aware of this period and what their socialization program includes. Ask them what they propose to do if your dog is past the Critical Fear Period but you’re having issues with anxiety or aggression.

The PlayStayTion Way

At PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training we help you to expose your pup to an amazing variety of things he or she will need to be comfortable around, in a controlled manner that creates good associations. Allowing an expert to guide you and your pup’s journey through this highly sensitive time creates a dog that is confident and that can adapt easily to new situations. Fate will not dictate what your dog will be afraid of or aggressive toward. Being confident around other people even in your absence will prevent most serious issues like separation anxiety, destructive chewing, digging, barking, and aggression.

This is the most important thing you can do for your pup because the results last a lifetime.

If your dog is already past the Critical Fear Period, we can still help by finding out what’s bugging him and fixing it!

We’ll help you discover what triggers your dog’s bad behavior. Then we change the associations to those triggers from bad to good. We do this in a controlled manner to counter condition your dog, so that instead of reacting poorly, he eagerly anticipates the previously stressful situations and has a new, positive reaction to them. Using an expert to systematically guide you and your dog’s journey keeps the experiences under an ever-improving threshold of tolerance so the behavior isn’t further ingrained by repeating it. Instead your dog learns from each new experience and discards what isn’t working for him anymore. This method resolves many serious issues like separation anxiety, destructive chewing, digging, barking, and aggression.

This is the most important thing you can do for your dog because bad behaviors usually get worse with time.

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Vicki and Will Nourse are proud members of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers.