You love your dogs. Except when they pee on the floor, eat your new heels, and strain at their leash. Before you lose your mind, get professional help. Jeff Jensen with Break It Down Dog Training and Rip Reinhold of Rip’s Dog Training – two highly rated dog trainers on Thumbtack in Los Angeles – get down to the bone with all you need to know about warning signs, behavior problems, hiring a trainer, and being a responsible dog owner.
What services do dog trainers offer?
Everything your dog needs to be happy and healthy.
Break It Down Dog Training offers puppy training, obedience training, canine behavioral modification, and specialized training for fear, anxiety, and aggression-based issues. All in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Rip’s Dog Training provides private training, stayover training (at the trainer’s home) for obedience and/or behavioral problems, puppy training, puppy testing, dog walking, as well as group lessons he will be starting soon.
If you have a specific need, most professional dog trainers have a solution. Just ask!
What are common requests from clients?
Does your dog strain at their leash, overreact to other dogs, or behave like a wild banshee—completely out of control? You’re not alone. This is the most common concern Rip’s clients have. He also receives calls for help with abnormally fearful dogs whose fear has turned into a preemptive fear-aggression. There is a solution, he says! He believes these problems are often interrelated, and can be traced to a basic lack of clarity or breakdowns in communication in the dog-owner relationship.
Jeff’s clients often need help with what he calls core, innate dog behaviors. Think chewing on furniture, barking through the front window, snatching food off the counter, and shredding your new duvet cover. He says that we humans aren’t big fans of this behavior, but it’s pretty natural for dogs. If your doggy isn’t getting daily, structured outlets for their needs (chewing, scavenging, digging, hunting, dissecting), you can bet they’ll resource their immediate environment (aka, your gorgeous rose garden) to have an outlet.
Your dog doesn’t need a behavior problem to have training. Jeff believes if more people sought obedience training early in their dog’s life, it would preempt many of the problem behaviors that pop up down the road.
What are tell-tale signs that it’s time to call a dog trainer?
If there is a problem behavior (or multiple problem behaviors), contact a trainer right away. If you do, you may only need a few sessions to resolve the issue and get back on track, shares Jeff. Unfortunately, most people hope the problem will go away on its own. What happens is it usually gets worse. He can relate that hiring a trainer might not be your top budget priority, but explains with behavior problems, addressing them sooner is less expensive than paying for more sessions later down the line because the problem compounded.
Include the cost of a trainer in your new pet budget, suggests Rip. Like Jeff, he believes if all new owners had a few sessions with a professional dog trainer at the outset, life would be so much easier. Avoid getting to the point where frustration has compounded and your sweet doggy is making you insane.
Can behavior problems ever be “fixed” in one session?
Yes and no.
Bad on-leash walking habits can often be quickly solved, shares Rip. Once the owner and dog understand the rules of the walk (usually one lesson), a lot else can fall into place. He’s seen dogs “turn around” very quickly once the owner understands the importance of leadership.
Potty training is another issue that can often be addressed in one trainer session, says Jeff. After that session, the owner needs to be mindful of the puppy’s daily schedule and stay committed to their part, but it’s an outcome they can achieve without ongoing sessions.
Both trainers agree that more extensive obedience training and serious behavioral modification takes more time. Jeff explains that most of his training programs range from 3-10 sessions, sometimes more depending on the severity and length of time of the problem.
What’s the biggest turn around you’ve seen in a dog’s behavior that you’ve trained?
Rip worked with two incredibly strong pit bull/sheepdog siblings whose owner was unable to control them on leash. She had them on a flat collar and they were pulling her and gagging against the leash. She had tried a harness for the walks, but the problem was the same. He put them on a Sprenger prong collar and the pulling stopped within five seconds. There was no pain, no conflict, no stress – the dogs simply received a different communication from the collar and settled instantly into a well-mannered walk. He explains that this illustrates what the right tool can do.
Training fearful dogs is a passion for Jeff. It’s a slow process that takes patience and understanding. He says the payoff of seeing a fearful dog come out of their shell is truly the best feeling. He thrives on alleviating a dog’s anxiety or fear, because it means the dog is happier, and by extension, the owner is too.
Any tips for first-timers hiring a dog trainer?
Do your research online, says Jeff, and read those reviews like the ones you find on Thumbtack! If you don’t like your trainer, or suspect they are going to use anything aversive on your dog to change their behavior, he urges you to have the confidence to say “no!” and find another trainer.
Make sure your trainer loves dogs, says Rip. Research that they make use of a wide range of training methods and tools, all of which you’re comfortable with. Dogs are intelligent creatures and Rip encourages you to find a trainer that respects them as such. And certificates and degrees aren’t always a measure of practical skill. Rip is a certified trainer, but explains that you should find someone who has working knowledge of training dogs, not just classroom training.
Dog training is 80% about the owner, explains Jeff. Training takes dedication, patience, and repetition. Do not expect your trainer to come in and completely solve an issue without you also doing the work when the trainer isn’t there.
Whether you’re getting a new pup, or correcting troublesome behaviors in your existing pack, professional dog trainers have got your back.