Give Your Dog a Job

Almost all breeds of dogs were developed and bred to have a job.  Even breeds like French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs and Chihuahuas that are often considered lazy or difficult to train can excel if given the right job.  We have seen French Bulldogs employed for detection work, therapy work, and fly ball and Chihuahuas racing their legs off at barn hunts and agility courses.  Your dog doesn’t have to be an amazing obedience dog to try their paw at dog sports.

Oftentimes, dogs that are labeled as problem dogs, like dogs that end up in shelters have not been given enough mental and physical challenges.  Once these dogs are given a chance to use their instincts in an appropriate way they can truly relax when they are at home with you.

Don’t be intimidated it really isn’t that hard to get started.  Normally, you get started by finding a club or drop in session to get started with.   Try just by googling it or looking on Facebook. 

You don’t have to turn your pet into a show dog, there are variations that you can do with your own dog!  You can find DVD’s online, you tube videos, and plenty of how to’s.

Nose work

Fascinating fact: Dogs have a sense of smell that’s between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours! The sport of Scent Work celebrates the joy of sniffing, and asks a dog to sniff to their heart’s content; turning your dog’s favorite activity into a rewarding game. It is a terrific sport for all kinds of dogs, and is a wonderful way to build confidence in a shy dog.  It is a terrific way to teach your dog that he can communicate things he wants to tell you, by how he acts.  This can be very empowering to shy dogs, help calm anxious dogs and give high energy dogs a job.

-You can do this in your own house really easily.  All you need is either their favorite toy, 3-4 card board boxes, a q-tip and any sent… that’s right you can even use hair gel, essential oils, or perfume.

Barn hunt

Barn Hunt is a fun sport for all dogs of any breed or mix that like to hunt with their noses. Dogs search for one or more rats (safely housed in aerated tubes) on a course made of straw bales. The dog has to find the correct number of hidden rats within a set time limit.

-This one is a little harder to do in your house, but there are about 6 places in the City of Denver that offer these for $15 a class several nights a week.


Agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time.  This can be great for adolescent dogs with low-self control to learn how to focus on a handler during excitement and go from speed to calmness.  It also teaches handlers to give clear cues and teaches dogs to focus on subtle cues while running full speed. 

-Do it at home by using chairs, laundry baskets, broomstick handles and large boulders in your yard.  Give your kids cardboard boxes that they can make tunnels out of.

You could also try the next one as an in-home sport.

Canine Parkour

Dog parkour, sometimes known as urban agility, is an activity based on the same principles. It is a challenging, but fun, physical activity in which the dogs learn to interact with their environment.   Parkour is a physical discipline in which dogs move through their environment and conquer obstacles in their path. It includes climbing, balancing, jumping, running, vaulting, creativity and working past fear.  Teaches dogs to listen to their handler and trains them body awareness.

-It’s made to do around the home and neighborhood.

Dock diving

Dock jumping also known as dock diving is a dog sport in which dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.  This is great for dogs that may have injuries or dogs that love toys and water!

-Do it around the house by finding a lake, river or canine swim center.  This is excellent exercise to  tire them out.

Freestyle dance

Musical canine freestyle, also known as musical freestyle, freestyle dance, and canine freestyle, is a modern dog sport that is a mixture of obedience training, tricks, and dance that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners. The sport has developed into competition forms in several countries around the world.

-This is so easy to do in the house, hit youtube for some inspiration and turn on your favorite tunes.


There are three test levels – started, intermediate, advanced. This is not limited to herding breeds as long as the dog has proper instincts I have a good friend who does this with an Akita.  If you are looking to compete there is a little more you need to know, The initial test is called Instinct Test and it is a test for herding breeds, Rottweilers, Samoyeds, Standard and Giant Schnauzers, Pyrenean Shepherds, Swedish Vallhunds, Norwegian Buhunds and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. The dog needs no training before entering this class and may be handled by the judge, owner or a designated handler. The judge is looking for the dogs ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving.

-Live in the middle of the city?  No sheep in sight, but your border collie is going bananas?  Check out this next sport called Treibball!


Sometimes called urban herding.If your dog has a nose or a shoulder, he can play Treibball! The game is simple to play and train, and only requires a few fitness balls, some treats and a love of working with your dog. Your dog learns to target the balls, and then goes out into a playing field and pushes balls to you, with direction and control.

Other working dog jobs

Service dogs:

These dogs are owned by someone with a disability and trained to mitigate that disability.  These dogs may be trained to retrieve a cell phone, medication, or pull a wheel chair.  They may guide the blind or detect an owner’s drop in blood sugar as well as respond to that situation appropriately.  They should be 100 percent focused on their handler as they are a medical device and if they are unfocused, they may miss a cue from an owner or may miss a medical issue like on-coming seizure.   That is why owners of these dogs strongly discourage other people from petting their working dogs. These dogs should have good manners and should not harass strangers or other dogs.  These dogs have public access rights.  No certification or registration is required.  Those sold online are a scam.  You do not need to have any markings on your dog, but your dog must behave in public.

Emotional Support dogs:

These dogs do not have public access rights, however they have fair housing act rights.  Your dog doesn’t need any special training, but can have this title revoked if your dog behaves in a dangerous manner around the neighborhood.

Therapy dogs:

These dogs go to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other places to provide comfort to humans.  These dogs are specially trained to be safe, polite and comfortable in the settings they provide comfort and are insured as therapy animals.

Helpful dogs:

These dogs are pets that you provide training for around your house to give them a “job”.  You can teach them to pick up dropped keys, bring you a hand towel, put the laundry in the bin and bring you your slippers.  While it may sound silly giving these dogs these simple and important tasks are sooo important! ff


Coming from a background in animal shelters I understand all too well that sometimes rehoming is the only option. I’ve seen the shame in the tears that are associated with these decisions.

I understand that there are times where for whatever reason a family runs into a situation where they could no longer keep their family pet. There is always embarrassment and guilt associated with this.

It is not a trainers responsibility to judge, it is simply their responsibility to help.

Sometimes the trainer will agree it is for the best especially in cases with aggression and minors in the home.

If you are faced with the decision to rehome your dog no matter the reason here are some people you should contact before you consider the shelter.

The breeder

Most breeders want to be contacted if living situations change or problems arise with the dog. Many breeders even have it in the contract that they be contacted in case of rehoming. Good breeders consider themselves responsible for the lifetime of every puppy.

The rescue

Like breeders if you adopted through a reputable rescue it’s likely in the contract that you must contact them before rehoming. Good rescues consider them self responsible for the lifetime of the dog.

The trainer

A trainer has a good idea of what a great home for your dog is. They understand your dogs energy needs, Behavior struggles and can likely help you screen potential adopters to make sure they’re good fit. They may even be able to send potential adopters your way. They can also help to work to ensure that the new adopter doesn’t run into problems. Many will post the dog amongst other dog training friends.

Your vet

Your veterinarian is another good resource. He sees dog lovers all day and may have an ideal placement in mind for your dog. While they see new puppies daily they also see people who have lost their pet. They are often keeping an eye open for a client’s next dog.

Your groomer

If you’ve been using the same groomer it’s likely that they’ve been seeing him since puppyhood. Your groomer has a long list of clients who care deeply about their pets needs. Just like the veterinarian their clients are lifelong which means they see people who lose their pet and may be interested in finding another match for their home.

While animal people can rarely agree on much I think that there is one thing that they can agree on…. animal professionals have the best interest of the animal at heart.

If you come to a place where you need to rehome your dog don’t forget to contact the animal professionals that have watched your pet grow up too!

If you must place the task of rehoming in someone else’s hands and a animal care professional you work closely with is unable to help then consider the following factors when deciding how to surrender your dog.

Choosing where to surrender. Not all shelters and rescues are created equal.

Some animal shelters and rescues have more resources for medical treatment than others. Yet there are some that specialize in behavior modification. Keep in mind what your pet’s specific needs are when you’re deciding.

Many animal shelters and rescues have a surrender fee. This can range from a small donation to $200. While it may seem like a no-brainer to pick a place that doesn’t have a surrender fee keep in mind that the surrender fee often correlates with the live release rate, not always but most of the time. Surrender fees pay for the care of your pet will receive while with the shelter, although it rarely pays for all of it.

There are also breed-specific rescues. If you have a breed that is considered difficult or is it unusual breed then you might consider a breed rescue. For example and Malinois rescue May interview people more in-depth to make sure that they understand a high drive dog.

Be one hundred percent honest when you surrender your dog and ask that they be honest with you as well. Sometimes owners won’t want to disclose information such as a dog not being fully house trained. It’s important that you disclose this information so that the shelter or rescue can share it with the adopters. Some families are perfectly willing to work on house training while for others it will be a deal-breaker. Provide that information so they can make their own choice. This will make it less likely that your dog is returned to the shelter or rescue. The more information that the shelter or rescue has the better understanding they will have of what kind of home your dog needs.

Why I wrote this

I decided to write this one day while volunteering at the animal shelter.

While dog walking one day I saw a man at the counter that I recognized, but I couldn’t quite place where I knew him from. I continued about my business until I was walking through the kennels and I saw a Cane Corso.

As soon as I saw this dog I knew where I knew the man from.

This dog had been a student of mine. His owner had signed him up for a six week training course almost 8 months earlier. He stopped attending classes after the third week and I never heard from him again.

I walked over and greeted the dog, he was so scared. I went into the kennel with him and ask him to do some of the obedience that I had remembered he had learned. He performed sit, down, focus and even a leave it without hesitation.

When I went and asked the kennel staff why the dog was there they explain that the owner was moving out of state. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself don’t my students know that I’m here to help them? Did he not know that I would have assisted him in finding placement for his dog? Why wouldn’t he reached out to the professionals in his life like his dog’s veterinarian or trainer?

Here are some photos of shelter dogs..

My dog Charlie helping a shelter pitbull

trick training

Our First AKC tricks title event

When at Bennett Canine Training first saw the news that the AKC was offering the Tricks Titles we couldn’t wait to start telling students about it. We thought it was great that our dogs could participate regardless of breed or physical ability there is tricks that work for everyone. When we told our students about it they were excited too! They didn’t feel overwhelmed since they could use rewards and they were too excited to be nervous. When decided to hold a testing event. 

 We offered the AKC Canine Good Citizen and right after we offered the AKC Tricks Titles Testing. It worked our perfectly and boy-o-boy did we have a turnout. We tested a total of 9 dogs. Our youngest handler being just 10 years old passed her CGC and her Novice tricks on “Aggie” whom she trained all by herself! This wasn’t just a test for beginners though we had handlers of all levels join.
We knew that this was going to be a fun event and it didn’t disappoint! As evaluators we were so excited to see the creativity of dogs and owners working together. The personalities of the dog/hander teams really came out in a way we’ve never seen in the obedience ring! All the participants were supportive of each other and clapped with joy after each trick. The dogs had just as much fun as the handlers!

Surely owners will be talking about this event for weeks to come. We know for sure that our Novice Title dogs will be going home to start on their journeys to their next AKC Trick Titles.

We offer drop in tricks classes to get started with tricks once a month and our next tricks title event will be on Feb 24, 2017 on Saturday at 1:30.

Training Tools & Pulling 

As a professional dog trainer and as a trainer who has crossed over from old school training methods I can tell you that it makes even trainers who use adverse methods skin crawl when they hear people say “it’s a great tool if you use it correctly.”

Why? You ask….. 

90% of people who use these tools do not know how to properly fit them or even properly put them on. This is the most basic step in using any training tool.

 Now, I want them to convince me that they’re using a prong collar correctly when it isn’t even on your dog correctly?

It is really hard to permanently scar a dog mentally, create major behavior problems, or create anxious behavior with positive training methods.

I would say 85-90 percent of collars I see while out in public are improperly fit. How do they know how to properly use it if they can’t fit it on their dog? Correct timing that can often takes years to master and tools like prong collars, gentle leaders, and e-collars must be used correctly to be effective.

To correctly use this type of training tool one must haves perfect timing, a strong understanding of training methods comma and a wonderful ability to read a dog once they have learned all this seldom do they need these types of Correction devices.

I often find that when somebody is looking at buying these types of tools and you ask them why they need it their answer is often well, my dog pulls really bad on walks and I was hoping it would help, or my dog lunges at other dogs and I was hoping it would help.

Here is the truth. When I ask these people who want their dogs to walk well on leash, “if you say heel in the house holding something her really wants, does your dog come to your left side and sit?” they often answer, “no”.

If you answered “no”, my question for you is why would you punish a dog for not preforming a behavior you haven’t taught him? If he cannot perform a heel in the house without distraction why would you punish him for not being able to do it outside on a walk with the presence of distraction like squirrels and other dogs? This doesn’t sound very fair to me.

No tool should ever replace good dog training, especially not one that can have adverse side effects.

Here is a list of my favorite pulling tools and how to use them click here

Positive dog training

Focused Heel Flat Collar

Separation Anxiety 

Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated behavior issues. Many veterinarians, pet store workers, and even trainers misdiagnose dogs and provide owners with bad advice that will be counterproductive to True separation anxiety. Separation anxiety or any other anxiety is never fixed overnight. 

Is it truly anxiety?

1. Is your dog anxious and other areas? Does your dog easily become stressed in a new environment?  It is pretty rare for a dog to only be anxious in one area such as during separation. Most of the time dogs that have true anxiety will display anxiety and other situations as well

2. Is your dog chewing and digging at the doors and windows? Or is your dog chewing up everything? Most dogs with separation anxiety will fixate at points of exit such as the front door or window.

3. Does your dog start to get anxious when you’re getting ready for work in the morning? A dog that is simply chewing or getting into trouble while you’re away due to boredom will not become worried when you start preparing for work however a dog with anxiety will.

I like to break down treatment of separation anxiety into three separate categories. Management, training (behavior modification), and medical.

Here are some MANAGEMENT (not treatment) rules for separation anxiety. 

1.     Leave a radio or T.V. on.

2.    Give a high value bone as you are walking out the door.  As soon as you come home pick up the bone.  You want him to think “oh man, mom’s home.”  These bones also act as a pacifier. Pick up raw natural meat bones at specialty pet stores such as chuck and dawn, heroes pets, or wag and wash. Be sure to switch them out daily, so your dog doesnt get bored. 

3. Never get excited when you come home.  Stay calm for the first ten minutes and ignore the dog.
4. Your dog needs to be exercised hard enough that they are out of breath.  Not a little out of breath, exhausted.  This will release the same feel good chemicals in the brain as it does in humans.  
5. Practice Calm behaviors before leaving the house such as relax on a mat.

6. Record yourself reading a chapter or two out of a book. Play it looped when you leave the house and another room.

7. Dog walker, dog daycare or dog sitter. Some dogs me still experience anxiety when their owners are out of site, but a stranger is present. Most dogs have a much easier time to adjusting if they are being checked on through the day or even better staying with somebody through the day.

Separation anxiety is never treated through just one method. It frequently takes layering treatments such as medication and behavior modification for separation anxiety to be treated.  
I strongly recommend that you get with a veterinarian who has additional education in Behavior. We call these Veterinary behaviorists. They can address all three elements needed to truly treat separation anxiety.

 For more information on separation anxiety please visit the videos.

What is Anxiety in Dogs
Treating Anxiety in Dogs



Too many dogs suffer from the terminal illness of under socialization…

As a trainer I often meet confused dog owner’s stating that they thought they did everything right socializing their young puppy.  Often times it comes down to three major socialization misunderstandings which are stopping to early, believing that socializing with the other dog in the home or a select 3-4 dogs or people is enough and incorrectly socializing your puppy.

Many owners are under the impression that socialization begins and ends with puppy class and while puppy class is a fabulous way to develop manners, healthy bite inhibition, and get wonderful feedback on your puppy’s socialization status socialization should begin before 8 weeks and continue until at least 8 months of age.   Giant breeds that emotionally develop slower should ideally be socialized even longer.  Socialization should begin at the breeder’s where they are introduced to sounds, smells and people who carefully handle the puppy and help it become prepared for the new home.  Good breeders will be able to explain their socialization protocols and will likely encourage you to continue with their plan for socialization.  Once home and before puppy class begins your puppy should have lots of new visitors especially children and men. 

Hosting a puppy party or a game night is a great way to increase the number of positive experiences your dog has with people.  This is practically true if there are not children in the home. 

The next step is puppy classes.  Good puppy classes are done in clean indoor facilities that are regularly sanitized and have vaccinated dogs and puppies.  Trainers in puppy classes can quickly spot gaps in socialization giving you early indication if you need to focus on additional socialization, plus puppies will learn how to be gentle with humans and other puppies.  This is also a great time for

After completion of vaccinating your puppy trips to dog friendly retail stores like murdoch’s, jax’s, playgrounds and drop-in classes at least twice a week will help ensure that your continues to maintain or improve his socialization while his personality continues to develop into adolescents.

Another comment I frequently hear is “My dog was well socialized; she had plenty of opportunity to play with the other dog in the home and spends a lot much of the day with our family.”  That isn’t socializing.  It’s just not, I’m sorry, I wish it were that easy, but your dog has to have an opportunity to meet at least 20 new people a week.  Your dog should regularly be allowed to have positive interactions with men and children whom your dog is not familiar with and if you have a breed that can be aloof then you should double the number of people your dog meets.

Bad socializing is often the result of very well meaning dog owners.  Socialization isn’t all about exposing your dog to as many new things as possible or exposing your dog to as many new people as possible it  must be done in a methodically and practical way.  If your dog is hiding under a chair in puppy class you are creating issues NOT preventing them.   When socializing your puppy be sure to look at it from your puppy’s point of view…. receiving treats from a 7 year old girl creates a positive association ensuring that your puppy will look forward to the next time he meets her while being sat on by a 7 year old girl may result in a attempt to avoid the 7 year old girl.  Meeting a and greeting a large friendly adult dog may result in learning proper manners  while being snapped at or stepped on by a large adult dog may create a fear which may later turn into defensive aggression. 

Consider the quality of all socialization opportunities and closely watch to see how your puppy responds to each.  If you are putting the time into socialization quality of the socialization matters and it MUST be positive.

Keep up the socializing and feel  free to come watch our classes visitors and prospective puppy buyers are always encouraged to come watch.

To learn more about how to properly socialize:click here

House Training Tips

Heeler puppy quote
First things first make a very clear constant schedule. Make sure the whole family agrees on it.   Your schedule must be the same, everyday. 

This should include:

  • A potty break as soon as they wake up.

  • Never leave the food bowl down.  Feed your dog and if they don’t eat pick up the food after thirty minutes

  • Two feedings a day

  • A potty break after each meal

  • Kennel when unable to supervise the more we can catch them in the act the better.

  • A potty break before bed time

If you have a very young dog or a puppy kennel training might be a great opportunity to address house training along with other Behavior challenges such as trash can diving and chewing too!click here for kennel training

A very old or very young dog may not be able to hold it for very long. Consider these questions when determining this:

  • Does he or she hold it in the kennel? 

Do they seem to know when they are looking for a place to go?


  • Clean accidents with an enzymatic cleanser to minimize odors that might attract the dog back to the same spot.

  • Once your dog is house trained in your home, he may still have accidents when visiting others’ homes. That’s because dogs need to generalize their learning to new environments. Just because they seem to know something in one place does NOT mean that they’ll automatically know that thing everywhere. You’ll need to watch your dog carefully when you visit new places together and be sure to take him out often.

  • Likewise, if something in your dog’s environment changes, he may have a lapse in house training. For example, a dog might seem completely house trained until you bring home a large potted tree—which may look to him like a perfect place to lift his leg!

  • Never leave your dog unsupervised, until he/she is house trained. It’s okay to give them a kong in the kennel while you take a shower.

  • Give your dog a treat after going potty outside.

  • Don’t bring your dog inside right after she goes potty, some dogs will start to hold it in hopes of going for a longer walk.
  • If you would like to teach your dog to ring a bell to alert you when they have to go out please start here:  bell training
  • Bennett Canine Training

Escaping Dog

I’m often surprised that people are not more concerned when their dog escapes.  Besides fear of receiving a summons from Animal Control there are a lot of dangers present even in a calm neighborhood.  Dogs may run into suburban wildlife like raccoons and coyotes.  They may be hit by a car.  There is also a strong possibility they may have a run in with a leashed neighborhood dog.   Most dogs act very different if they are running loose and their owners aren’t around. If your dog is escaping you should take corrective action ASAP.

Management (making him want to be in the yard)

Dogs need activities to keep them busy. If we don’t provide them appropriate activities and keep their minds stimulated, your intelligent, healthy dog will find things to do on his own. Normal dog behavior includes chewing, jumping, digging, running the fence line, and tearing things apart.

Bringing your dog inside when you aren’t home is a sure fire way to keep your dog from getting out as well.  If you feel bad about leaving your dog in all day then a dog walker or doggy daycare might be just the solution for you!

Games that utilize your dog’s nose are great exercise.

 A very large portion of a dog’s brain controls their olfactory function, therefore, the more we create activities where they get to use their nose, the more stimulated and tired they will get.

-Keep lots of different things for him to do in the yard.  Fill your rubber kong with goodies, and have the treat dispensing toy outside too.  Change what they are filled with daily, so they don’t get bored.

 -As he gets better and better at finding and playing with those goodies, you can hide them in more and more challenging locations.  This will help tier out his mind much faster.

-A tired dog is a good dog.  Add exercise into your dog’s daily routine and make sure that he has plenty of time to run. Maybe go to a big fenced in baseball field, use a longer leash when out for walks, or try flirt pole training for your dog.

Fencing should be able to keep your dog in even if he wants to get out.

Check your gate regularly and teach your kids to as well.  If your kids are not good about securing the gate consider using a lock with a key, so you know when the gate is being opened. (The kids will have to get the key from you)

Inspect your fence and look for broken pickets.  These can be replaced pretty easily and you can replace the single picket.  If one picket is broken your dog can easily break more while you are at work for the day. I’m sure you have heard the saying good fences make good neighbors.

If your dog is going up and over the fence coyote rollers maybe a excellent solution.

For information about coyote rollers: click here

Keeping your dog safely secured in your home and yard is one of the most important responsibilities of being a responsible pet owner and depending on where you live there maybe low-cost options for help with building fence for your dog.

Dog bite, now what?

I wanted to share this correspondence with everybody I changed the name of the dog but the incident remains the same. All too often I see people who have a situation that occurs with their dog and they chop it up to a series of unfortunate events.

Here’s the question

“Need some advice….
We got a court summons because “YaYa” snapped at two annoying kids at Lowe’s while I was paying and she was sitting by me on leash and the she may have broken skin. I didn’t see what I’d expect to look like a bite mark, just a dot. Mom ended up calling the police because of the bite.

What do I do now? 
I’d like know if and how I can get this dropped as “Yaya” ‘s not aggressive.  “

You probably aren’t going to get it dropped especially since the dog broke the skin and there is enough evidence to support your dog acted aggressive at this time.  Thus the bite.

I would suggest you take it as an opportunity to get a little extra training with your dog. I’m not saying that your dog is aggressive, but if he’s barking at people it probably wouldn’t hurt to get a little extra control of him especially now that he has a record. 
You know that if somebody calls back in Animal Control is going to have a history of your dog’s bite now. It’s going to be hard to explain to a judge if he asks why didn’t you do anything after the last incident.

“So, do you think I should record a video of “Yaya” Playing with kids in the neighborhood?”

 The thing is even if you have a Canine Good Citizen on your dog and it is preceived  to act aggressively in public. 

The judge isn’t going to care if he gets along with your neighbors kids or any other kids.

If you look at the summons it says that your dog is accused of acting that way on a specific date and time and at a specific location. 

You’re not going to get out of a speeding ticket by taking a video of you not speeding through a school zone on a separate day and time then the ticket occurred on.  A dog ticket is viewed the same way.

Your dog’s behavior is only in question for the date and time on the face of the summons. Unless you have witnesses or security footage that shows your dog behaving like an angel during the time he was accused of acting this way then it’s going to be hard to fight. Your job isn’t to convince the judge that it didn’t happen, especially if it did happen. Your job is to convince the judge that moving forward you’re going to take actions to ensure that this won’t happen in the future. 

This is a good opportunity to have a professional evaluate the situation and come up with a specific plan to prevent future bites with your dog.

“Is there anything else I should do?”

You will want to make sure that your dog is on a 10-day home quarantine if he actually did bite the skin on somebody. 

You want to make sure that your dog is current on whatever licensing your city or state requires which will always include a rabies vaccination at least here in the states. 

Make sure that your dog cannot escape the backyard.

If you decide to continue taking your dog into public places make sure that your dog is leashed and keep an eye open for people approaching your dog who look like they may want to pet. 

It also is worth considering a basket muzzle, but your trainer can talk more in depth with you about that.

Surrendering for Behavior

Training Obligation Pit

When I started training professionally I was working at a non-profit shelter in Colorado.  I got to assist in completing many families by helping to add a new pet to the home, but 2-3 times a day a owner would walk through the front door with tears in their eyes knowing they would be leaving without their beloved family pet.  Surrendering a dog to a shelter is sometimes the only option for a family that has fallen on hard times.  When it comes to behavior issues I was finding that most of the dogs can stay in the home.  If the owner has the resources to change the behavior.

Most of the time the behavior issues we were seeing dogs being surrendered for could easily be corrected within just a few training sessions. In attempt to keep the dogs in their home, I would start a conversation with the owner, by asking them why they were surrendering their dog. Then they would describe a behavior issue that they could no longer bring themselves to deal with. To this I would follow up with, “Have you considered training or behavior modification?”

Inevitably, I would be given one of three answers,

“yes, we’ve been training him ourselves. I’ve owned dogs all my life.” “Yes, we did puppy classes when he was little.”  or “Yes, we spent, insert a ridiculous amount of money here, and we didn’t see any changes in the behavior. I don’t think this dog is fixable.”

Hearing this broke my heart. 

“Yes, I trained him myself I’ve owned dogs all my life.”
Sometimes we are blessed with a dog that is well-adjusted, socialized from an early age and doesn’t have any hiccups along the way. 

Talk to any professional dog trainer from box store beginner to world champion level and I guarantee you that they have used another trainer for their own dog. It isn’t because they haven’t owned dogs before or they are not experienced enough.  It is for the same reason that football players have coaches. Two heads are always better than one and having a coach can provide you with a new perspective to your dog’s behavior and bring new solutions to the table.   If you have experience training dogs in the past that’s great news! That means your trainer will be able to help you solve your dog’s behavior problems even faster than somebody who has no experience at all.   Don’t let your ego be the reason your dog walks into a shelter.

Another challenge I often see with D.I.Y. dog training is behavior problems being misdiagnosed.   I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve gotten to assist a owner with a “aggressive” or “protective” dog and evaluate the dog only to find a fearful dog that had learned to successfully ask for space by barking and lunging at strangers.  If the dog’s owners preceded in D.I.Y. training they could have very easily made the problem much worse. Instead, with a accurate diagnosis of the dog’s behavioral problem we were able to address the root causes of the behavior and with the fearful emotion addressed the dog no longer felt the need to ask for space in such a way. 

Dog training is a evolving profession.  You wouldn’t want your doctor for a life threatening illness, to be a friend who got his medical education from watching DR. OZ, why would you allow a neighbor who got his dog training education from watching The Dog Whisper on TV to treat your dog?  If you are considering surrendering for a behavior issue this is a life threating illness for your dog.

“Yes, we did puppy classes when he was little.”

First let me congratulate you for being a proactive pet parent. Not enough people go to puppy classes when they’re puppies are young. That being said puppy classes are not meant for behavior modification. These classes are meant to teach your puppy to focus on you in a structured environment, build confidence, socialize and to start a foundation for obedience.  In all honesty the great majority of the most popular box stores fall short at even this.

While I can’t stress how important these puppy classes are, they’re not a lifetime fix for your dog. Many dogs depending on breed will go through major behavioral changes throughout their lifetime.  Adolescent dogs will need guidance during each one of these phases in order to prevent behavior issues from developing.  These types of puppy classes, no matter how good the instructor is, won’t prevent behavior issues as they become teen dogs.  That comes through continued practice, training and structure.  Even a perfectly raised puppy may develop behavior issues.

If training and structured socialization stops after a 6-week puppy class on a four month old Neapolitan Mastiff puppy there’s bound to be big trouble when it hits two and a half years old.

Think about it like this, imagine that a child goes to a school where they learn how to share, how to talk about their feelings, and how to be a good person. While the lessons they learned when they were young were undoubtedly, valuable they may need additional assistance reinforcing these lessons in the home.  Additionally, if the parents started to notice abnormal behaviors it wouldn’t be acceptable for the parents to say “well, they already went to kindergarten, so they should just grow out of it.”

“Yes, we spent, insert a ridiculous amount of money here, and we didn’t see any changes in the behavior. I don’t think this dog is fixable.”

Unfortunately, there is no regulations in the dog training field. There are certifications. Some of certifications mean that the trainer was tested and assessed other certifications are simply obtained through a membership fee. Just because you spent big dollars on professional dog training doesn’t mean they have big skill.

I wish it was that simple. 

I have seen board and train facilities that cost $3,000 to send your dog to for month and yield absolutely no results.

This is a buyer beware industry whether you’re looking to purchase a puppy or looking to get that puppy into training classes.

How to pick a good trainer
Well, the proof is in the pudding.
Don’t only  talk to one trainer. Interview several dog trainers before deciding where to enroll your dog.  If you’re considering surrendering your dog because of behavior issues, we will go ahead and consider the behaviors serious. If the trainer doesn’t yield results, then the result of the trainer’s short coming is the dog being rehomed. Take your time finding a good trainer. Ask to see dogs that they have trained.  Are you really impressed?

Look for a trainer who has the best results in several dogs not just one.

Ask if you can come and watch a class. I don’t know any trainer who wouldn’t let someone come and watch a session without a dog.  Choose the trainer you are seeing the best results with I can’t stress that enough. 

Furthermore, talk to the trainer about their training philosophies. Make sure that it’s a training philosophy that you’re comfortable with. If you don’t believe in the philosophy or you’re not comfortable utilizing it, it’s not going to work. You have to be able to implement the training at home for the training to stick.  If you’re considering rehoming the training must stick.

Ask for referrals.  Talk to the rescue, breeder or shelter that you purchased your dog from. Talk to your friends who have well-behaved dogs and if you see a well-behaved dog the park ask them where they got training.

Good luck, I hope that you are a little bit more willing to consider training before rehoming. I have no doubt that you love your dog.  You raised it as a puppy and you and your entire family are emotionally attached to your dog.

Before you surrender ask yourself, “if I’m not willing to take on these behavior issues can I truly expect a complete stranger with no emotional attachment to this dog to take on the behavior issues?”  Often times the real answer is “No”.

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