Last night I was scrolling my Facebook feed and saw a post on a community Facebook group. A woman was asking for suggestions on where to drive her dogs to in the countryside, where she could escape the fireworks in town. The answers she got varied from useful places to go, to down-right dangerous techniques of “teaching” a dog to like fireworks. The responses to this post shocked me so much. Luckily the group has great admins and commenting was turned off quickly and eventually, the original author deleted her post.
I see this stuff happen a lot online with dog related questions in community groups that aren’t tailored to answer dog-related questions or issues. An innocent question is asked – perhaps about barking, loose lead walking, how to improve recall, toilet training for a new puppy… and the internet responds with a cocktail of advice, myths, wives tales, “one time I did this” type comments. Sure, sometimes there is gold in there, but generally how do you filter out what is great advice and what is terrible?
The truth is, when someone is asking for advice online, they are only able to give a small snapshot of what is happening. Even well-meaning advice through social media can never delve into the complexity of some dog training or behaviours.
Take loose lead walking for example. You might think “how do I get my dog to walk nicely on the lead?” is a simple enough question. But in reality, to give you a full answer, we need to first find out a number of things. For example, what does ‘nicely’ mean to you? I’m quite happy for my dog to have a sniff when we walk along, but others may not. Someone might only want their dog to walk on the left-hand side, someone else may have specific access needs such as teaching a dog to pace themselves alongside a walking-aid. Or there may be other dog training issues effecting how the dog walks on the lead, the dog might be scared of the cars on the road, or be pulling towards other dogs to say hello… As you can see, even a “simple” dog training question requires more investigation than you might think.
Asking online, in general community groups, for dog training advice or issues never really allows for the full picture.
So, who can you turn to for advice for your dog questions?
- An accredited dog trainer or behaviorist will always be able to help you. If you are worried about your dog barking at strangers walking by the house or just want some advice on what harness to buy, a dog professional will be able to give you advice and build a training plan to help. Accreditation is important – perhaps a whole other blog for another date! – as an accredited dog trainer will follow a code of conduct and have a commitment to continued professional development.
If you are based in Powys or Shropshire then drop me an email (Jen@BeBrilliantDogs.co.uk) or phone me (07472701887) I am always happy to come and visit your dog and help you with any training needs you may have. If you are not local to me, we can set up virtual one to ones or I can find an accredited trainer local to you to help.
- Keep a few great books on your shelf for reference. It is old-school technology, but having a few great books in the house can be a great place to look for advice about dog issues that may arise. I have a number of books I regularly recommend, my top three are:
Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy – for new puppy owners
Easy Peasy Doggy Squeezy – for everyone but especially for anyone with a dog hitting teenage stage
Inspiring Resilience in fearful and reactive dogs – for anyone who has a dog that is a little more worried about life
If you would like to chat more about recommended doggy reading lists, let me know and I’d be happy to talk you through more options!
- Your dog class group will have lots of suggestions. One of the huge benefits of coming to a dog training group class is to make connections with people who are learning similar things to you with their own dogs. These people are a great source of knowledge and help. Often a group dog training class will have its own Facebook Group or online messaging forum. Here is a fantastic place to ask questions with people who are training in the same way as you. Or you could also ask the whole group when you attend group training classes.
- Your vet. A vet will be able to help you with any health concerns that you might have about your dog, often they are also able to refer you on to an accredited dog trainer in your local area. There is no substitute for vet advice, if you think your dog is sick or behaving strangely due to illness, drop your vet a line as soon as possible.
So, if you are after some advice on how to train you dog, want to know some top tips for recall, need to work on greeting new people, want to know how to train a specific trick – contact an accredited dog trainer first, before turning to the wild west of the open internet.