Trainers and Behaviourists
Training and socialising your dog is vitally important. A well trained dog is a pleasure to be around, whereas a dog which is untrained and not comfortable with other dogs/ people can be hard work to manage and may also pose a potential risk to other animals and the general public.
There are numerous dog trainers and behaviourists in the West Lothian area. Careful consideration should be given when selecting a trainer to work with you and your dog as there are a wide variety available, each with differing training techniques.
Training Your Dog
All dogs require training. Training can be undertaken by the owner at home, however it is recommended that all dogs attend training classes as this also allows them to learn the correct social skills around other adults, children and animals. All dogs should know the five most basic commands -"sit", "down", "stay", "off" (or "leave"), and "come" (also known as recall). These commands should be practiced regularly, both around the house and when out and about. It is important that your dog listens and obeys commands even when there are distractions around.
There are numerous resources relating to dog training, including books, DVDs and websites. Make sure that your source is reliable, up to date and the person your are taking advice from is qualified and experienced in training dogs. Training should always use positive reinforcement (rewarding the correct behaviour) as punishing your dog can lead to it becoming confused, upset or defensive, which often causes more problems in the long run.
Behaviourists or Pet Behaviour Counsellors are highly trained in dealing with problem behaviours in animals. If your dog has issues such as:
- fear of people/ things,
- displays aggression towards other dogs, or
- shows toileting issues in the house,
you may find employing a behaviourist more helpful than trying to train the dog on your own. There may also be physical problems underlying your dog's behaviour problem, for example a dog which snaps or bites when touched may be in pain. If your dog is showing signs of problem behaviour, the first port of call should be your veterinary surgeon who will first ensure that your dog is physically fit before referring you to a registered Animal Behaviourist or Pet Behaviour Counsellor. It is worth checking with your insurance company if they will cover behavioural advice, as many pet insurers now do.