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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a dog trainer during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Utilize as many digital means as necessary when setting up appointments or consultations with dog trainers near you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the best way to begin is by conducting a search for dog trainers online. Compare services side by side, and ask each dog trainer you contact if it’s possible to schedule a consultation or appointment completely virtually. During this time, you should also discuss strategies for completing training and payments through digital means.

Are there ways to be safe if I hire a dog trainer when social distancing?

Current CDC guidelines state, “Do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household.” It also explains that more studies are needed to understand if and how animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19 and how this might affect human health.

If you’re uncomfortable with hiring a dog trainer right now, you can reach out to dog trainers in your area to see if they will let you book an appointment in the future when social distancing guidelines are lifted. Or, ask if they offer virtual or remote services.

If you do decide to hire a pro to train your dog in person, limit any physical contact with the trainer. Stay 6 feet apart, sanitize items and surfaces, and use digital payments instead of cash or a check.   

Can I use digital payments to pay for dog training?

Many professional dog trainers accept digital payments instead of cash or check. One effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is encouraging companies and services to onboard digital platforms like PayPal, Zelle, Google Pay, Venmo and Square Cash as a means of curbing virus transmission risk.

When you contact dog trainers near you, ask if they’ll accept digital payments. This information is also typically available on their online profiles.

How can I find out if a dog trainer is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

Guidelines on essential services are constantly being updated by local and federal government agencies. To see which services qualify as essential COVID-19 service providers, start with your city or state’s government website.

A reliable list of federal guidelines is available on CISA’s Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 webpage. However, not all jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.  .

Do dog trainers offer remote or virtual services?

Although dog training is traditionally performed in person, the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused some professional dog trainers to move to remote training and virtual services. You can contact dog trainers near you to ask about the possibility of remote or virtual services. Also, ask whether all aspects of the process can be digital, including payment.

Does a dog trainer need to enter my home?

Depending on the type of dog training you need, a dog trainer may need to enter your home. Many behaviors that need to be corrected are associated with the dog being in the house. However, some types of training can take place virtually or even outside while observing safe social distancing practices.

Start by asking dog trainers in your area if they’ll perform a video consultation instead of an in-person one, and ask if they need to enter your home.

What is a dog boot camp?

A dog boot camp is basically a board and train program that focuses on training your dog or puppy. The trainers will work with your dog to curb unwanted behavior, teach them basic skills and show them how to walk on a leash.

Dog boot camps and training programs might differ when it comes to their services, so it’s always a good idea to do your research and ask them to explain exactly what they offer — and how much they charge.

How old should a puppy be for training?

Dog training shouldn’t wait until you’re having behavior problems. If you get a new puppy, start from the beginning with professional training to give both you and your puppy the tools you need for a healthy relationship. Dog training is as much about teaching the owner how to interact with their new dog as it is about the dog learning to behave. Puppy training can start as early as eight weeks old. Trainers who offer puppy training programs may works specifically with dogs between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks old. Trainers can teach owners about potty training and how to deal with accidents, working with separation anxiety, and training your pooch out of destructive behaviors like chewing, biting and demand barking. Puppies will start to learn to walk on-leash and other basic skills.

In addition to behavior training, socializing your puppy is an important part of dog training. Socializing your dog means they become comfortable and confident in a variety of settings and have a great foundation for becoming a well-adjusted adult dog. After your puppy has had the proper vaccinations, you can start to introduce it to a variety of different dogs and people in safe settings.

How long does it take to train a puppy?

Dog training depends on the dog and how much homework the dog owner is willing to put in. Puppy training is similar to dog training in that the onus of the work depends on the owner learning new ways to interact with their dog. For a quick crash course, you can opt for a single, two hour smart-start puppy training consultation to teach you the ins and outs of being a new dog parent. You can learn how to manage potty training and what to do if the puppy experiences separation anxiety. As long as you’re willing to work on dog training a little bit each day, your puppy will quickly learn these new behaviors. If you’re not confident about training your puppy yourself, you can enroll in a 6- to 8-week puppy training course, with weekly lessons touching on everything from bite control to obedience. Puppies usually need to be at least three months old for group training classes. If you want more intensive one-on-one work, you can opt for private lessons. Some behavior problems can be resolved in one session if the dog owner learns and can implement new skills. In the case of more serious issues, 3 to 10 private sessions can typically correct challenges.

Which dog training method is best?

The best type of dog training for both you and your dog depends on the outcomes you hope to achieve. If you want your dog to learn agility training, go to someone who specializes in those techniques. Regardless of whether you want your dog to learn basic behavior or competitive-level tricks, the majority of dog training is actually about training the owner how to communicate with their dog. Most professional dog trainers agree that a model of training based on positive reinforcement breeds a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. The alternative to positive reinforcement training is using force or aggression techniques like physical punishment or shock-collar training to get the dog to do (or not do) a behavior. While the dog may learn how to behave as you direct, it is also learning to communicate with force and aggression, and will in turn use those behaviors on other dogs (or people) that are smaller or weaker than it is. Before signing up with a dog trainer, meet with the trainer and ask for references. Watch the trainer interact with your dog, and make sure they treat your dog with patience and firm kindness. Ask them questions about their training methods:

  • What type of training methods do you use?
  • What is your background and training, and how did you become a dog trainer?
  • How long do you expect that we will work together before we achieve the results I’m after?
Reviews for puppy trainerss
Dani B.
Susan is very easy to work with. I like they way she trains our puppy. Lots of love and treats and always positive!
Nu PawspectiveNu Pawspective
Vishwa S.
As a first time pet parent, it is important to find the right trainer and I’m glad that I found Susan. Susan is a fantastic trainer. I hired her for 1:1 training my puppy yorkie and during the multiple sessions we have had, she is professional, kind, patient and fantastic with my puppy. She treats dogs with care and just as you would treat your babies. Highly recommend! Thanks Susan!
Nu PawspectiveNu Pawspective
I want to say first of all that I am not writing this review out of spite, but I want to save anyone else time if they are in a situation similar to mine. I have been using positive reinforcement with my puppy since I adopted them. When I reached out to Dan, I wanted help with specific issues. He offered 2 packages, a 4-class package ($300) and a 10-class package ($700). He texted me and offered to let me try a session before deciding which package I wanted, because I wasn't sure which one was the better fit. After the session, I still felt the 4-class package would be better for me. After this, I felt the interaction became unprofessional. He told me that he didn't think cost was an issue for me and that he had given me the same treatment as all his paying customers. I had a few issues with this message. At no point did I say cost was not a factor for me. I don't think he should have assumed cost wasn't a factor. He seemed to want to know every part of my thought process, which I am not obligated to share. Second of all, I think he should be giving the same treatment to all his clients, because that is how you get more clients! I don't think you should treat clients differently just because they may want a smaller package. I think it's common decency. After replying that I still wanted the 4-class package, he requested payment and then said he no longer wanted to work with me and my puppy. I felt like I tried to find a trainer that was right for me, and I feel I have wasted my time, because the session he gave me was essentially an introduction to positive reinforcement which I had already been using. If I had known that he would cancel the rest of my sessions because I chose to go with a smaller package I would not have booked the first session in the first place. I think a better way to have helped me was to work with my needs instead of imposing what he felt like we needed. I needed help with specific issues, instead his session was mostly about positive reinforcement training, which is already widespread with resources on the internet/Youtube. To be fair, there is some benefit to someone coming into your home and helping you work with your puppy 1-1, which is what Dan does, but this has definitely put me off using a trainer and I will be training my puppy by myself in the future. However, Dan's sessions are also only 30 minutes, while others I have seen charge the same rates - $700/10 sessions, but their sessions are an hour long. If $700 is no issue for you and you don't want to do any research into positive reinforcement on your own, then this might be a good match for you. But be aware that even if you agree to selecting a package together, he can choose to cut off training with you. If you're like me, do some research into positive reinforcement and get a trainer who will work with your needs. I have many neighbors with dogs, but I will definitely not recommend Dan to any of them. Edit: I was asked by Dan to include the following details in my review: - Dan provided 2 hours of training (I didn't keep time, but this is what he said), although I had paid for 1 hour. - He messaged me after the first session asking which package I wanted and I asked for a few days to decide - I said I would reply Saturday evening, and messaged him back on Saturday at midnight. I told him the reason my responses were slow was because I was busy with work - he described this as "putting off communication".
The Pup SchoolThe Pup School
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