Dog training can be a costly luxury that at times is only accessible to middle- and upper-class individuals. Behavior problems are one of the big reasons why dogs end up in shelters across the country. While dog trainers and behaviorists have studied for years and deserve to be paid for their services, there is also a need for accessibility. Many trainers will already donate their time to work with shelter animals and help increase their adoptability. The question arises of how to create accessible training resources for families and dogs that may lack financial means.
Many people think dog training deals with training a dog’s behavior to fit our lifestyle. To create a consis- tent change in behavior, a great deal of emphasis must be set on training an owner to work with the dog. This may mean that in some cases, just a few training sessions may be sufficient if an owner is dedicated in creating a lasting behavior modification. Taking detailed notes and repetition of the exercises and techniques executed in lessons with trainers is vital to long term success. It is not just about a thirty- minute training session, rather utilizing every moment with a dog as an opportunity for training.
If training sessions are out of the question, there are a variety of self-teaching resources. There are many useful videos on popular sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Videos may be as basic as simple obedience exercises such as sit, down, stay, come, spin, etc. There are also videos aimed at more complex behavior quirks such as “Look at that” work for dog reactivity, or in-depth nose work and agility demonstrations. There are comment sections on these videos, as well as dog behavior blogs and online forums, where individuals can exchange questions, answers, and advice. It does not have to be a professional certified trainer, even individuals offering suggestions as to what may or may not have worked for them and their pups can offer a fresh perspective.
In addition to online videos and behavior blogs, there are a variety of written resources. Tending to lean toward the realm of positive reinforcement training, plenty of books are available. A few popular ones are “The Power of Positive Dog Training” by Pat Miller, “Rescue Your Dog from Fear” by Peggy Swager, “The Culture Clash” by Jean Donaldson, “Don’t Shoot the Dog” by Karen Pryor, and “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell.
The good news is we do not need to send our pets to a fancy boot camp or dump hundreds of dollars into private training sessions to improve behavior. In fact, the more we learn and train ourselves to work in harmony with our dogs, the better results we will obtain. There are a variety of resources available at low or no cost to owners. If we utilize them and are willing to put in the work, great progress in dog training can be made.