Does your dog need a trainer…or a behaviorist?

I guess this is a pet peeve of mine, but there seems to be much confusion on the part of pet owners regarding trainers and behaviorists. The internet hasn’t helped. Often, the terms “trainer” and “behaviorist” are used interchangeably. Big difference! If your dog is fearful, aggressive, shy, boisterous, or exhibits symptoms such as growling, snapping, or submissive urination, you both would be best served by a behaviorist. A lot of people call themselves behaviorists that are actually dog trainers. Sometimes a trainer can actually make these dogs worse, as the underlying cause is not addressed, only the symptom. How do you find a true behaviorist? Try clicking here. These are veterinarians who have completed a residency and are specialists in behavior. Only a veterinarian is truly (and legally) qualified to diagnose and treat behavior disorders.

We need trainers too! Does your dog need manners? If you want your dog to come when called, stay, sit, catch a frisbee, or walk well on a leash, then you need a trainer. The latest in dog training focuses on “positive reinforcement.” If your trainer recommends a halti-collar or gentle leader, they are probably using the most current, positive techniques. Some trainers recommend a shock collar, choke collar, or pinch collar– these offer a punishment, though you can incorporate rewarding the dog as well.  Most dogs respond best to positive reinforcement. Each dog has a different personality and may respond better to one technique over another. The most important thing is to make sure your dog is happy, and the focus is positive – that will bring the best results.