by Mary Tully
Between all of us dog trainers here at Tully’s Training, we could write a dissertation about how important it is for families to find the right dog for their particular household and lifestyle. Choosing a dog whose size, age, exercise needs, care requirements, and temperament fits the living situation in which they're being adopted into is arguably the most critical decision one could ever make regarding a dog.
If we trust our doctor to tell us what's best for us, surely we can trust a good dog trainer with a possible 15-year decision. Hiring professional dog trainers to help you find the right dog will not only save you time and money, but it'll save everyone (including the dog!) trouble and grief in the end. Your dog trainer knows how to sift through all of the information and noise and help guide you through the process of finding the right dog for you and your family.
Here are a few reasons why you should call in a pro to help you out:
1. We can help you determine the perfect time to launch.
When considering adding a new dog into the family, timing is crucial. Many of us are guilty of making an emotionally-influenced decision to add a dog to their family—myself included! One thing we discuss with all of our families is timing: are we ready to really dedicate the time and energy to start this pup off on the right paw? The timing factor makes a huge difference in how many tools you are able to give your dog or puppy to work with. Dogs, young or old, need lots of help adjusting to a new environment, so if you're in a place in life where you have the time to really provide that guidance, this transition will be far less stressful and much more fun! If it is determined that now is not the right time to bring home a new dog, we can help you set goals to get you there. Alternatively, we can also offer advice on what pet may be a better fit for your family.
2. Should you adopt a dog or a puppy?
Age matters because there are tremendous benefits for any age group, but there are also challenges. A dog trainer can help you identify where you have wiggle room, what your deal-breakers are, and can help guide you into making an informed decision based on your life and schedule. For example, if you can handle potty training a dog, but the thought of getting up several times in the middle of the night to let your dog out isn't feasible, then an adolescent or adult dog might be the better fit for you as opposed to an 8 week old puppy.
3. What breed (or mix) of dog should you choose?
Dogs have been bred and engineered by humans into specialized categories (or breeds!) that have specific physical and behavioral traits and personalities. A Husky will never be a couch potato, an English Bulldog will not hike with you in the SoCal summertime. Choosing the right breed or mix can make or break your relationship with your dog and making the right choice can be daunting. A dog trainer has lots of experience with all kinds of dog breeds and could match their personality and traits to yours and your family's. Match-making is much more fun for us than trying to teach a Beagle not to bark, a Golden Retriever not to retrieve, or a Border Collie not to herd. Don't be that guy! Call us!
4. Which individual dog has the best temperament for you and your family?
Once you've decided what breed or mix you are looking for and what age, the next big factor to consider is temperament. Dogs are born with certain personality traits that can make them a better or worse match with your family, so identifying a dog's temperament from the beginning and how it fits with your family is important.
In one single litter of puppies, you can have one puppy who needs to be with an experienced family with no children, one puppy perfect with/for young kids, one puppy who needs to be a working dog, and a puppy who needs to live a quiet, consistent lifestyle. These differences can be subtle to the inexperienced eye, but matching a dog who has the right temperament for your family is huge! Do you have small children? Are you a senior citizen? Do you want your dog to do a job like hunt or be a therapy dog? Are you a first time or seasoned dog owner? Are YOU a dog trainer? All these factors (and many more) are what your trainer takes into consideration.
Many breeders and shelters Temperament Test their dogs, a service that we also offer in our Los Angeles, Venice, San Diego, and Seattle locations. Temperament Testing can really help to ensure you are selecting the right family member, and a dog trainer can ensure that you choose a dog with the best temperament for you and your family.
5. What supplies and training plan do you need for your new dog? (i.e. "What do I do now?!")
Your dog trainer can help you get your space and a training plan prepared before you bring your new dog or puppy home. This way, when your new dog arrives, you are prepared mentally and physically. Instead of spending time putting a crate together, reading article after article about potty training, or shopping for puppy pads, you'll be at home with your new dog getting to know one another. You'll also avoid wasting time and money buying the wrong sized crate, the wrong toys, and the wrong food for your dog. A professional can set you up with the correct gear from the get go and show you how to use it. We will also go over training basics, how to socialize your puppy, talk about how and when to introduce your dog to friends and family, the best setup for potty training success, etc.
6. How long should I wait to start training after bringing my new dog home?
Setting up a consistent routine from day one will seriously ease the transition your new dog will have when joining your family. Potty training will be faster and easier, your dog will be less likely to chew up your new sofa or get into the garbage and other places we'd rather the dog not get into, and poop on your newly shampooed carpets! Training will be much easier. As dog trainers, it is much more effective for us to be involved with your dog from the beginning. Once bad habits have set in, training the good stuff will take that much longer.
7. If you wait until after your puppy has come home to call a dog trainer, you are already late in the game.
The first few weeks with your new puppy are crucial. Bite inhibition, socialization, impulse control—these are three things that need to be handled correctly, by a professional, the first time. The best thing you can possibly do for the lifetime of your dog would be to work on these three things with a professional trainer from the day you bring that puppy home.
90% of my highest-spending clients, come to us with dogs who have developed behavioral or even psychological problems that could have been prevented had they called us before they brought that puppy home.
In a recent study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, only 4% of the dogs who were surrendered into shelters had received formal obedience training. As easy as it is to chastise a dog owner who would surrender their dog to a shelter, it can happen to anyone. If you end up with a dog who isn't properly suited to your family, things can get ugly. I'm talking about dogs destroying property, noise complaints due to a dog’s excessive barking, developing anxiety, and even dogs that develop aggression. We can reduce these awful statistics and we can prevent you from adding to them. Proactive dog training is less expensive, less stressful, and much more fun. We don't want to wait for a problem with your dog’s behavior to get out of hand before we do something about it.
The trainers at Tully's Training want to ensure behavioral problems with your dog don't develop in the first place. We want to help you find the right dog in the first place, we want to plan properly for that dog’s arrival, and we want to start training right away.
If you are thinking about adding a dog into your family, let us know! We'd love to help.
Live outside of Seattle or Southern California? No problem. We can help you via Skype!