For the dog owner who experiences problems with their pet, who can they turn to? There are many options available to them but which one will be effective in bringing about the desired changes tailored towards the specific needs of your dog?
Whilst a plethora of advice can be easily accessed, be it reading dog training manuals or watching videos and trying these suggestions, to bring about true behaviour modification there can be no substitute for practical, hands-on, face to face support.
Who do you ask? Where can quality, practical support be found?
The Vet? … maybe?
The Dog Trainer?… will he understand the specific needs of your dog and know how to change their behaviour?
The Dog Behaviourist? … definitely!
Behaviour rehabilitation and modification is recognised as a specialised area. Whilst Veterinary Professionals can diagnose and treat your dog’s medical conditions, generally they do not have the time or the facilities to implement an appropriate behaviour modification programme. This is where partnership working can be most effective and the Vet seeks advice or makes referral to a Dog Trainer or Behaviourist.
The Dog Trainer
The Professional Dog Trainer trains the dog's owner to train his or her dog. To be most effective, the owner must use and reinforce the techniques taught to the dog. Owners and dogs who attend class together have an opportunity to learn more about each other and how to work together under a trainer's guidance. Training is most effective if all those who handle the dog take part in the training to ensure consistent commands, methods, and enforcement. Classes also help socialise a dog to other people and dogs. Training classes are offered by many kennels, pet stores, and independent trainers.
The part deemed hardest of training is communicating with the dog in a humane way that the dog understands. However, the underlying principle of all communication is simple: reward desired behavior while ignoring or correcting undesired behavior.
Basic pet obedience training usually consists of teaching animals to behave on cue. Common behaviors are:
- Recall ("come" or "here")
- Close (or loose-leash walking)
- Stand (standing up)
- Toilet training
The Dog Behaviourist
The role of the Dog Behaviourist involves gathering the full history of the dog and its behavioural issues. This understanding forms the basis and drives an appropriate behaviour modification programme which is carried out in a practical, supported manner. This process is usually done on a one to one basis, in the context of the home environment or where the behaviour occurs (park etc.). Some good Dog Behaviourists are able to offer suitable facilities for the complete rehabilitation of the problem (secure field for outdoor work, hall etc). After the initial programme has been completed, this support is on-going, for as long as the dog or owner needs it.
Having considered the options, where does this leave the dog owner? The Vet has said the behaviour is not medically linked, the trainer has helped secure the basics but the unwanted behaviour is still present. Your dog’s problems are such that you do not feel confident to attend the traditional dog training class. You’ve had a successful one to one session/s with a good dog behaviourist ,which has brought about some changes but you feel, with further support, more progress could be made. The Boot Camp is your next option.
The good Dog Behaviourist uses the Boot Camp as a tool to secure what has been worked on in the one to one sessions. A decision is made that the dog would benefit from a period of intense behavioural training to finalise the process. The Boot Camp can be for the dog and owner or, where necessary for independent rehabilitation, the dog on its own with the behavioural expert.
The Boot Camp for dog and owner consists of working across a number of days with the behavioural specialist. As behaviours accur they are addressed and corrected. The owner is empowered to be the leader of their dog.
The dog-only Boot Camp runs for a period of 2 – 8 weeks. During this time, the Dog Behaviourist works intensely with the dog, correcting the unwanted behaviours; over-writing and conditioning the dog’s behaviour in order for it to re-enter society successfully. The idea of working with the dog on its own is to remove the current influence or thinking of their owner.
Within the Boot Camp other areas are addressed such as diet and the importance of having and maintaining a daily routine with your dog.