Megan is now a Certified Nose Work Instructor!

Megan completed all of her requirements through the National Association of Canine Nose Work to become a Certified Nose Work Instructor! This certification included 8 days of in-person learning, an exam, instructor evaluations from students, video submissions of classes, as well as additional requirements such as passing an Odor Recognition Test, and attending certain lectures from the founders of the sport. It was a lot of work, but Nose Work is Megan’s passion! If you are interested in learning more about K9 Nose Work, we have a special 9 week Intro course starting June 2nd. Contact Megan at megan@dogsdeciphered.com for more information!

Piper loved Megan's K9 Nose Work Classes in Loveland, CO

Piper loved Megan’s K9 Nose Work Classes in Loveland, CO

How to Choose a Dog Trainer

In the world of search engines and social media advertising, it’s hard to know where to turn when you need help with your dog’s behavior. Do a search for “dog training [city, state]” and you will come up with all kinds of options. Who can help?

  1. Where to start? An internet search is a good start, just keep these things in mind:
    • It’s easy to sell a good story on a website, which gives no actual evidence that the person has the experience or knowledge to help you.
    • Some of the best trainers aren’t the best at marketing. Coming up high on Google searches actually takes a pretty specific skill set, and spending money in just the right places. I would say most of my colleagues are in the learning phase of marketing their business correctly, because they’ve spent their time mastering their training skill!
    • I recommend looking on the CCPDT (that’s the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) trainer search: http://www.ccpdt.org/dog-owners/certified-dog-trainer-directory/.
    • Even if you find a trainer whose website looks great, you owe it to your dog to ask them a few questions (see below) before hiring them.
  2. Ask for recommendations. Your veterinarian is a good place to start, but they may or may not know trainers personally or have experience with them. Ask friends or local groups on social media if they have ever hired a dog trainer they would recommend. Your friends and community members are the most likely to be honest about their experience. You may just find the local gem that hasn’t quite mastered search engine optimization. pirate-and-megan-heeling
  3. Once you get a few names, or even one good lead, call or email to ask them a few questions:
    • Briefly describe your problem, and ask if they have experience with that issue. A trainer may not be comfortable with aggression cases, or have much experience with severe separation anxiety, and that’s okay. A good trainer will be honest about their experience level, and refer you to a more experienced colleague if needed.
    • Jean Donaldson sums it up perfectly with her 3 questions for dog trainers, and you will want to find someone whose answers you are comfortable with –
      • What will happen to my dog if he gets it right?
      • What will happen to my dog if he gets it wrong?
      • Are there any less invasive alternatives to what you propose?
    • If they offer inexpensive or free consults, they may encourage you to make an appointment, which is fine, but be sure to ask those questions during your consult!
  4. Be your dog’s advocate! At any point in any training program, if you do not feel comfortable with what is happening to your dog, speak up. You owe it to your dog to do what you feel is best, even if a professional is telling you otherwise. Dog training is an unregulated field, and there are many unqualified individuals working in the industry. This is why it is important to ask questions first, but unfortunately some people are deceptive. If it doesn’t feel right for you and your dog, don’t continue.

When to Hire a Professional Dog Trainer

How do you know if you should hire a professional dog trainer?

  1. When you are a first time dog owner – There is a lot of information out there on how to raise a dog, and if you are a first time dog owner it is difficult to know what will actually help. A professional dog trainer can help you navigate this information, and get you and your dog on the right track.
  2. When you are in over your head – Even an experienced dog owner may come across a problem they do not have experience with. If the problem behavior hasn’t been solved by what you currently know, a professional dog trainer can help teach you the skills you need to get a handle on the behavior.Fawkes
  3. When quality of life is suffering – If you or your dog is experience a reduction in your quality of life, you should seek professional help. This can be anything from extreme fears/phobias that reduce your dog’s quality of life, to a dog that tries to escape the front door at every opportunity which reduces your quality of life. You and your dog deserve to be happy, and a professional dog trainer can help you reach that goal.
  4. When you want to take your training to the next level – Maybe you already have a very well trained dog, but you know they are capable of more. A professional dog trainer can help you realize your dog’s potential, and find activities that your dog excels at.
  5. When your dog has threatened or done harm to a human – We don’t like to talk about dogs that threaten people, but these dogs definitely need professional help to keep them from being a risk to anyone. If you have a dog that has acted aggressively toward a person, a professional dog trainer is your first point of contact. Be aware that a trainer may refer you on to a more experienced colleague if they do not feel comfortable working with an aggression case.
  6. When you want to be competitive – If you want to compete in dog sports, hiring a professional trainer with experience in competitive dog sports can be very helpful in fine tuning your performance.

If you are looking for a professional dog trainer in your area, check out the Certified Dog Trainer Directory. In my next post I will talk about finding the right trainer for you and your dog.

 

Big Changes for Dogs Deciphered!

2016 is going to be an exciting year for Dogs Deciphered! Megan has spent the last 3 years working full time for a growing grooming salon, daycare, and grooming school, while building her training business on the side. The time has come, and Megan has gone part-time to focus more on training! This means she will be seeing private in-home clients throughout Northern Colorado, 5 days a week, with select weekends available. She will also be offering classes in both Fort Collins and Loveland, with daytime, evening, and weekend classes being offered. If this is your year to spend more time working on your dog’s behavior, or learning something new, contact Megan today to find out about her expanded schedule of private lessons and group classes!

2015 Classes Posted!

FawkesSnow

Megan’s Rhodesian Ridgeback Fawkes loves the snow! He also loves helping Megan teach Mind Your Manners! and My Dog Can Do That!

I realize I haven’t updated the site in forever, but I’m going to get started before the New Year on updating more regularly. If I make it a New Year’s Resolution, I’m likely to stop by the end of January, but if I just make it a new habit, hopefully the trend will continue! I have put classes on the schedule starting in January, including Beginning and Advanced Scents & Scent Abilities, and My Dog Can Do That! a new intermediate level tricks and games class. Don’t forget that Mind Your Manners! is an open enrollment class, meaning you can get started any week that there is space in the class. Click on the Calendar tab, and click over to January at the top of the calendar to see the scheduled start dates. If 2015 is your year to do more with your dog(s), then Dogs Deciphered is the place for all your classes!

January is National Train Your Dog Month!

Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog month? What are you planning on doing with your dogs?  If you have any activities in mind, consider joining one of our group training classes! Every Thursday night is our open enrollment class Mind Your Manners! where you can get started any time you want.  We cover household manners, and other foundation skills for a well mannered pet.  Looking for something outside the box? Our Scents and Scent Abilities class teaches your dog to use his nose in a constructive way.  This class can be a fun activity, or prepare you for competition nose work.  Call 970-663-3647 to ask about classes today!

Emily checks under the box to see if her hide is down there!

Emily checks under the box to see if her hide is down there!

Open Enrollment Class Provides You Flexibility!

Did you know our Mind Your Manners class is Open Enrollment, meaning you can get started this week? This foundation class covers foundation behaviors such as “go to mat”, leave it, polite greetings, loose leash walking, and coming when called. You can join any week, and then you have 12 weeks to complete the 6 week course, giving you more flexibility. Call 970-663-3647 to sign up today!

Welcome!

Welcome to the Dogs Deciphered homepage. Please check back often for site updates. I hope to get the calendar up as soon as possible, as well as some helpful training articles. Check back soon!