Bringing a dog trainer on board before you adopt will help ensure that you and your new pet start off your relationship on the right foot.
With a dizzying array of adoption organizations, shelters, and thousands of dogs available for adoption, how do you find the right dog? And how do you ensure a positive experience for your entire family? The single most important thing you can do before you adopt a dog is to talk to a dog trainer in your area.
To first-time dog owners, this notion might seem like you’re putting the chicken before the egg. But any pet professional or seasoned dog owner will tell you that a having a dog trainer guiding you through the entire adoption process can not only save you a lot of time, money, and heartache but can also ensure that you and your new pet start off your relationship on the right foot.
Questions to Ask a Dog Trainer
1. Why Type of Dog Should We Get?
There are countless ways a professional dog trainer can help you and your family find the perfect rescue dog. Let’s start with how a trainer can help answer one of the most commonly asked questions: What type of dog should we get? We asked dog trainer, and owner of Dream Come True K9, Blake Rodrigues, who specializes in working with difficult dogs how he would respond, and he suggested:
“Choose a dog with a temperament (versus how the dog looks) that fits your lifestyle, while also making sure that your lifestyle fits a dog needs.”
This is a great piece of advice to always keep in the back of your mind when considering which type of breed to adopt. Dogs fall into one of eight distinct groups: Herding, Sporting, Working, Terriers, Toy, Hounds, Non-Sporting and Miscellaneous Class. These groups represent the type of job a dog was originally bred for, and when you understand their job qualifications, it will give you valuable insight into their temperament, exercise requirements, and other unique characteristics of that particular breed. It’s the dog trainer’s job to assess your family’s lifestyle and home and then recommend a few different breeds within a particular group that would fit nicely within your family’s dynamic.
2. How Do I Choose My New Best Friend?
Now that your trainer has helped you figure out what types of dogs would be the best fit for your family, the next objective is to start searching for your new best friend. This is when having a dog trainer by your side can make all the difference! A dog trainer can recognize and understand canine body language and will have a good understanding of an individual dog’s personality and temperament within the first few minutes of meeting a dog. Once you have narrowed your selection to a few candidates you and your trainer should take each dog for a walk (away from the hustle and bustle of the kennel) for a few quick temperament tests that will give you an idea of the dog’s personality. For example, how does the dog react on the leash when it sees other dogs or hears a loud noise? Is the dog comfortable walking on different surfaces? Up stairs? Does the dog eagerly approach children or shy away? All of these reactions tells the trainer a story.
Dog trainer Shelby Semel makes an excellent point about this;
“It takes about three full months for all of the true colors to come out in an older adoptee so it’s good to have a professional see if they notice any red flags that could use some work!” Your trainer will have a pretty good idea about which (if any) of the behaviors raises red flags and what type and amount of training will be needed to overcome them.”
3. How Do I Introduce My Dog Their New Home?
So now that you and your trainer have picked out the perfect dog, it’s an exhilarating moment. You’re ready to head home and introduce your new best friend to it’s forever home and family! Having a dog trainer by your side will help to make sure your family has everything they need to start the relationship off on the right foot.
Professional Dog Trainer Kate McCue of Kate’s Canines in Brooklyn, NY suggests that;
“When you go to pick up your new dog to bring them home, try to curb your excitement! First impressions are everything to a dog, and we want their first impression of us to be that we symbolize calm, cool leadership. They will trust you quicker and respect you more. Grab that leash, take a nice quiet stroll to your car or home, and let the relationship building begin!”
We love that fact that Kate emphasizes the importance of maintaining “calm and cool leadership”, especially during the initial transition process from kennel to home. Because the first few days will play a major role in setting the right tone, it’s also important to have everything you need before bringing your new dog home. There are several important tools that will help you manage your dog and keep it safe, healthy and happy. You will need a dog crate, collar, leash, harness, food, treats, and a few different types of toys. There will be a large selection at your local pet store. For a new pet owner, who is determined to do right by their new dog, the choices are dizzying and expensive. Everyone has an opinion about why one is better than the other. Your dog trainer will save you a ton of time and money by not only helping you pick out the tools you need but also showing you how to properly use them.
There’s a lot of information out there that will help your dog make the transition into your home as smooth as possible. Your trainer will help you identify the little tidbits that are most important, so you don’t have to absorb everything at once. For instance,
“Dogs are creatures of habit and repetition.”
To a layperson, this might seem insignificant, but for your dog, it’s super important. Dogs thrive on routine, and when a dog knows what to expect and when to expect it, it keeps them grounded. Your trainer will help you create a daily schedule that includes eating, walking, training, playing and sleeping. If you stick to it, your dog will have an easier time settling into their new home situation.
Dogs also thrive with a clear set of rules. Creating a set of canine “house rules” and maintaining them in a consistent manner will keep your dog safe and very happy. Dogs live in a world of black and white. They don’t understand gray areas like “sometimes it ok” or “just this once”. There’s nothing more frustrating to a dog then changing the rules once they are set. For example, if you don’t want your dog on the furniture then that has to be a rule consistently followed by everyone in the house. If the dog looked adorable sleeping on the sofa on Monday and you let it slide only to reprimand the dog for snoozing on the sofa on Tuesday …that would be an entirely confusing situation for your dog and can lead to a less than trusting relationship.
We hope that if adopting a dog is the right move for your family you will consider seeking out a professional trainer to help. It is a big decision that will affect your family’s life and the life of your pet every day for years to come. Taking the time to seek out a trainer to guide you is the most foolproof way to make this the experience your family has dreamed about.
Bio: Jeremy Feldman has spent over a decade in the pet industry as a professional dog trainer and groomer.He is now the CEO of PetYen, your pet’s neighborhood resource. A website that connects New York City pet owners to our curated network of pet service providers, unique pet-centric neighborhood guides and all the news and information you need to enjoy your pet in the city.