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Do You Need A Dog Trainer Or A Dog Behaviourist?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

The honest answer - It depends on what you want to achieve!

A Dog Trainers Strengths

If you want your dog to do certain things such as attend dog shows, obedience or agility competitions, then you're best off looking for a local Dog Trainer. Dog Trainers can get some fantastic results!

Well trained dogs can still have behavioural issues however. For example, a dog at Crufts following their owners’ commands could still suffer from separation anxiety, be aggressive or display other unwanted behaviours.

A Dog Behaviourists Outlook

Dog Behaviourists focus more on the foundations of behaviours, and figure out why behaviours are or are not happening. That is not to say that they do not do dog training however - during my qualification I completed a whole unit focusing on dog training alone, which I passed with distinction. In order to re-condition unwanted behaviours, there is definitely a certain amount of dog training that we need to do.

If your overall goal is to have a calm and balanced dog, then a good Dog Behaviourist will ensure that you end up with just that.

Here at Calm Down Dawg, we work with puppies as young as 7 weeks to set the right foundations down both in and out of the home through puppy training and educating the owner in all the hints, tips and advice that ensures you end up with a calm and balanced dog. This means that you can move forward with your dog’s training with the confidence that you’re doing everything right.

We work with adult dogs of any age because you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Old dogs can still go through training programs as well as having unwanted behaviours reconditioned so they’re no longer a problem anymore. Seeing a dog that’s been living with unwanted behaviours (be that aggression, anxiety, over excitement etc) for years become calm and balanced really is amazing to see.

In the world of being a good Dog Behaviourist, we look at everything that could cause the unwanted behaviour to happen, from the environment, surrounding stimulus, the dogs background (if known), what happens before the event, what happens after the event, medical history, diet, exercise, mental stimulation, owners influence, the list goes on...

It is important to consider all these factors because 'a one size fits all approach' just doesn't work in dog behaviour. Every dog is different and needs to be treated as an individual case.

Example: - Some dogs urinate in the home to get attention, others because they're excited, others because they're scared, others because they're marking their scent, others because they have a medical problem or even because their owner isn't letting them out often enough. This is why it's so important that we observe the dog in their natural environment and get the full picture of what's actually going on. Only then can we advise owners how to stop the unwanted behaviour. For example, from the list above, each form of urinating needs to be dealt with in a different way in order to stop it from happening.

Once we have the full picture of what’s actually going on, we can start to change things in order to get the desired behaviours from that particular dog. Sometimes this happens very quickly, sometimes it takes time to recondition unwanted behaviours. Patience is key. 

In fact, in some cases we’ll never get your dog’s behaviour to 100%. However, if it’s currently at 10%, 30% or 50% and we can get it to 80% or 95% both you and your dog will live a completely different life for the better.

I should know because I live with a dog that will never be 100%. Murphy’s mum was a very nervous bitch and didn’t discipline him enough as a pup. The critical period is 4-16 weeks and if they don’t get the right influence from dogs and humans in this stage of their life, they often end up with life long behavioural problems. The influence that Murphy’s mum had on him caused him to be very disobedient as a pup and all the way into adulthood. It’s been a daily struggle to get him to where he is today and although he’s a fantastic dog that we love and adore, if the approach that we need to take with Murphy goes out of sync for just a few days he’s a nightmare! Murphy at 50% is uncontrollable, Murphy at 90% is a great family dog that everyone enjoys being around.

Two of Murphy’s brothers were put down due to severe behavioural problems before they were even 18 months old. So, it just goes to show what happens when the wrong dogs end up with the wrong owners. If I took his brothers on as well as pups, they would still be alive today, as well as being calm and balanced dogs. And it’s a fact that sometimes the wrong dogs end up with the wrong owners. 

Here at #calmdowndawg at the end of the consultation, we leave our clients with a comprehensive Behaviour Modification Plan. We always guarantee that even a very experienced dog owner will learn a whole list of new things about how to be a better owner and how to end up with a calm and balanced dog. Your dog’s Behaviour Modification Plan could include recommendations for the following: -

- Exercise

- Diet

- Mental stimulation

- Environment

- Owners influence

- Breed specific needs

- Socialisation

- Confidence building exercises

- Specific equipment that's needed

- Or anything else specific to your dog’s individual needs

At Calm Down Dawg we're always on the other end of the phone to answer any post consultation queries at no extra cost. Giving you the peace of mind that you’re only seconds away from getting the right advice from a qualified Dog Behaviourist.

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