7 Signs That It’s Time to Hire a Dog Trainer
Author: Amanda Brahlek
When it comes to keeping your dog safe, happy, and healthy, most dog owners go above and beyond. Most dogs go through puppy classes, learn the basic commands of sit, shake, and stay. Yet many dogs will struggle with behavioral issues beyond their owner’s control at some point during their lives. These problems can worsen over time, and the gradual changes can occur so slowly that they can go unnoticed. This is until an incident occurs and the dog owner realizes it may be time to consult a trainer for additional help, support, and information.
If you’ve been wondering if your dog needs the help of a professional dog trainer, we’re here to help. The 7 most common signs that it’s time to call in the reinforcement of a professional dog trainer include:
1. Walks Are Not Enjoyable Due to Pulling
Yanking, pulling, and barking at other dogs can make dog walks stressful, even frightening. If you’ve ever thought you may lose control of your dog while on a walk, you’re not alone. However, this is a sign that you should seek the assistance of a professional since the problem could result in injury to yourself, your dog, or others.
Excessive pulling can become dangerous fast. What could happen to a dog that breaks away? They could
- Get hit by a car
- Be bitten by another dog
- Suffer the pain of being pepper-sprayed
- Become lost and confused
2. Your Dog Has Developed Leash Reactivity
Some dogs experience leash reactivity. This problem occurs when a dog lunges, barks at, and pulls, and even tries to nip while on leash. Often, the dog doesn’t express these behaviors while not leashed.
Most dogs develop this problem slowly over time, often becoming worse in small increments. Then, suddenly their owner realizes that walks have become a real issue. The source of a dog’s leash reactivity can stem from:
- Fear, anxiety, and insecurity
- Frustration at the restriction caused by the leash
- A desire to engage in conflict
- A bad experience while on leash
- A combination of the above
Because leash reactivity is caused by a range of complex internal issues, it’s best to get help from a trainer who will help your dog overcome the problem. They identify how severe your dog’s leash reactivity is and even encourage your dog to build confidence when not leashed.
3. Your Dog Has Tried to Nip or Bite You, Another Dog, or Another Person
While nipping can be normal for puppies during playtime, it is not a habit you want to stick around. Furthermore, these behaviors can progress into serious aggression. While most puppies learn bite inhibition from their mothers and puppy playmates, some miss this lesson and need a bit of additional support in learning it.
Even if your dog is playing, their sharp teeth can do real damage, especially to kids. If your dog or puppy doesn’t break the habit of biting or nipping with toy redirection, you will want to work with a trainer to redirect their energy and build better behavioral habits.
4. Your Dog Is Developing Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety continues to be quite the mystery for most pet behaviorists. They are still uncertain as to why some dogs (and cats) develop this issue while others do not. However, one thing is certain: separation anxiety is a difficult problem to fix.
It’s a good idea to find a trainer with experience in separation anxiety if your dog:
- becomes destructive
- tries to escape when you leave
- cries out and barks immediately after you close the door
- has accidents
- or remains restless the entire time you’re away.
5. You Feel Afraid or Nervous About Taking Something Away from Your Dog
It’s normal for a dog not to want to give up their favorite toys, treats, or other objects. Yet they should never guard these objects by snarling, growling, nipping, or biting you or another dog. This behavior is often called “resource guarding” and the aggression-related to this problem can multiply over time.
Being able to take away an object from your dog is a matter of safety. If you feel fearful of grabbing something they’re playing with or chewing on, do not hesitate to seek help from a professional.
6. Jumping Has Become A Problem
For most dogs, leaping on their owner is a way to show how excited they are to see them. Unfortunately, this behavior can become problematic should your dog knock you or somebody else over. Dogs can also scratch unsuspecting people when they jump up. If your puppy has this habit, you can often help them overcome the behavior by ignoring the behavior and redirecting. For adult dogs that continue to jump, you may need a helping hand to learn long-term solutions for this problem.
7. Your Dog Bolts Out the Door
While door bolting can be a sign of separation anxiety, it can also be caused by your dog’s prey drive, excess energy, wanting to greet another dog or person nearby, or boredom.
The issue when it comes to door bolting is that when your dog escapes, they are not within your control. This can lead to your dog endangering others and themselves. Should your dog run across the road at a squirrel, there is the possibility they could get hit by a car. Your dog could also frighten a passerby or another dog.
This behavior can be tough to break and a trainer could assist by teaching you some reliable techniques and aid you in understanding your dog’s underlying reason for their behavior.
All Aboard the Training Train!
When it comes down to it, investing in professional training is a worthy investment in your dog’s future (and yours). Professional dog trainers can provide insight, proven training techniques, perspective, and so much more. If you’ve wondered if it’s time to call a trainer, the answer is likely, “yes,” especially if your dog has presented some of the behaviors outlined above.
With understanding, time, and the expertise of a dog trainer, your dog will become a model canine citizen. Be sure to reward your dog and provide them with a healthy outlet for their energy with Natural Farm’s all-natural chew treats.