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Albuquerque Dog Training - SpiritDog Training LLC

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you ready to get started with training your dog, but have some last few questions for our Albuquerque dog trainer? We have collected the most common questions here.  If you cannot find the answers you’re looking for, give us a call! We are here to help, providing the most modern, effective and science-based dog training in Albuquerque!

 

How much training will my dog need? When will he be completely trained?

It is impossible to give a definite answer to this.
How long dog training takes depends on multiple factors. Here are the ones that will accelerate your training success:

 

  • Making a little time (10min) for dog training in your schedule every day.
    Dogs learn through many successful repetitions. Their attention span is rather short (especially when first starting out in training). It is much better to train a couple minutes every day than to train an hour once a week.
    Dog training does not need a lot of time, it just needs the time to be invested regularly and consistently.

 

  • Training your dog in many different locations.
    If you only train him in the living room, he will only be obedient in the living room!
    If you can take your dog to many different placed to practice, he will quickly get good at behaving everywhere.
    This is not so fun at first as dogs can be over-the-top excited when you take them to busy places with many distractions, The good news is that they quickly settle down once the understand being in public is just a new aspect of life.
    (This blog post talks more about initial excitement in new places: Off-Leash Dogs and Beginner Drivers)

 

  • Implementing management instructions.
    Management is a crucial part of dog training. It means setting up the environment of a dog in a way that it makes it easier for him to behave successfully.
    If you are for example potty training a puppy, you cannot let have him have full access to the whole house unsupervised or he will potty somewhere (need more potty training advice? Potty Training Your Puppy).
    Many behavior issues are hard or impossible to solve without using management. Our trainer will give you extensive instructions if your dog requires a certain set-up, and it is important that you put these in place.
    The good news is that most management is temporary! E.g., after your dog is potty-trained, you can let him be everywhere in the house without having to supervise him.

 

  • Having all family members on board and being consistent.
    It is not necessary for everyone in the household to actually train the dog. What is important though is that you provide the dog with consistent and predictable reactions to his behaviors. For example, if he does not sit in front of the door before going outside, it will be detrimental if one family member does not open the door until he listens and one lets him out anyway.
    The more black-and-white our reactions to our dogs can be, the better they can understand the “rules” and behave accordingly.

 

If you follow these guidelines, you will usually see first results within the first week of training, and a definitely changed dog within a month or two.

I don’t have time to train my dog. Can you train it for me?

 

Yes! Being a professional dog trainer, I can often fix problems very quickly and effectively when working directly with your dog. For that reason I offer Albuquerque Dog Day Training, during which I will train your dog. You can go about your daily business knowing that your dog is in the hand of a professional dog trainer who will train him fast and with lasting results.
Day Training works well for basic manners, house-training, obedience in public and mild behavior issues. I take dogs to all kinds of places in Albuquerque to get them working around distractions and ignore other people and dogs!

If your dog is aggressive or very anxious with other people, dog day training is not the right option for him at this point.

 

 

Do you travel to our house to train our dog?

 

I do! In-home training is very effective for behavioral issues. I travel to all locations from Albuquerque to Edgewood, and for an additional mileage fee also to the Grants, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Moriarty area.
Observing the dog in the home environment and being able to give suggestions not only for training, but also the general set-up of his life will help me train your dog as quickly and effectively as possible. Often just small changes in the way the dog lives with you (such as restricting access to certain rooms for potty-training problems) greatly improves the success of training.
In-home training is convenient and helpful for you and your dog. If your dog is reactive towards people and other dogs and cannot yet take a group class, we can work on his reactions in a one-on-one setting. He will still be able to learn obedience and manners without attending classes.

 

 

I didn’t train my dog when he was a puppy and now he is 3 years old and poorly behaved. Can he still be trained?

 

Absolutely! Dog don’t get too old for training. At any point during their life you can show them which behaviors you like.
I have trained dogs that only started out with formal training when they were 10 years old – and they did just as well as a young puppy.

One thing to keep in mind is that older dogs have a much longer history of rehearsing unwanted behaviors. If your dog has been pulling on his leash during his walk for the past 5 years, it will probably take him a while to understand that now the rules are different. He has a long so-called “reinforcement history”.
Reinforcement history is referring to the past experiences of behaviors that paid off for him. He has learned every day of his life that pulling on leash gets him where he wants. We now need him to gradually accumulate novel experiences that teach him the opposite – walking with a loose leash lets him go places.

 

The most important thing you can do when training an older dog is being extra meticulous regarding your consistency. The clearer the rules are, the easier your dog is able to follow them. The more confusing the rules are (such as sometimes you let him walk and pull, but sometimes not), the longer the change will take.

 

I would like to start dog agility, but I am much slower than my dog. Can my dog and I still do it?

 

Of course. Nearly every dog and handler team will have a speed difference between human and dog. Agility will teach you specific skills that allow you to make up for this speed difference (by for example telling your dog to run to obstacles further away) and let you move at your speed while your dog runs as fast as he can! Agility is a sport that has handlers of all ages – from kids to people in their 80s – be successful on national and international levels because it is not dependent on the owner’s physical fitness.
Whether you are on the slow or the lightening fast side, your dog will be thrilled to run around and play with you!

 

 

What equipment do I need for training?

 

Nothing much – a flat collar, leash and lots of rewards! I do not use any kind of specific training tools. We won’t need a chain collar, prong collar, electric collar etc. The leash and its attachment to the dog is only a safety line and not a means of communication.

The most important training equipment for me is the reinforcement you will give to your dog. Over your time of training with me we will find out what exactly your dog likes the most – this ranges from trying out many kinds of treats over finding which toys he loves to exploring environmental rewards as well!

(Here you can read more about my reward philosophy:

A World of Rewards
Finding the Value where your Dog sees it – a Story about Unusual Rewards
A Question of Value)

What are your most important training suggestions?

Here are a couple of training guidelines to keep in mind. I have found that implementing these lead to increased success in dogs going through training.

 

  • Don’t rush. 
    It is tempting to try and race through a training program as quickly as possible. Unfortunately this often makes the dog rather mediocre in his performance.
    Dogs learn through repetitions and building up behaviors over time. We need to go at their speed and provide them with plenty of opportunities to rehearse new behaviors in different locations. If we rush or skip steps, our dogs will not understand what exactly we are asking them to do.
    Confusion is never a good thing to have in training!
    Do you know the Navy SEAL saying “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”? It absolutely applies to dog training. The smoother your process is, the better your dog will learn.

 

  • Don’t give up.
    Dog training is not a linear progression. In fact, your dog’s behavior will seem to go up and down in reliability and vary from day to day. This is completely normal – remember that they are their very own being with different daily moods. We are not always performing at 100% and neither are our dogs.
    It is important to look at the long-term progression. I recommend keeping a training diary in which you can keep track of what your dog knows, what your dog is just learning and what your dog is really struggling with. Looking back at this after some time will make you see how far you have come!
    (If you feel frustrated in training, check out this blog post with ideas on how to not take failure to heart: But is it fun? Frustration in dog training)

 

  • Find the trainer you need.
    Dog training is not an isolated activity. You need to feel comfortable with your dog trainer and trust him or her to make the best decisions for you and your dog. If you don’t “click” or seem to have the same goals, don’t hesitate to look for someone else. Just like there are many different personalities in people there are many different styles of dog training.
    Don’t be afraid to have high expectations for your trainer. It is your money and your free time that you devote to dog training, and you deserve to get the most out of it!

 

What do you think of the Dog Whisperer? Do you use his techniques?

 

I am not a fan at all! Cesar Milan teaches dogs through intimidation. While this can and does work (dogs want to protect themselves and will behave in ways to avoid confrontation), it is not the approach I choose.
Dogs are highly social animals that have been domesticated by us for a long, long time. Dogs are genetically adapted to getting along well with us and reading our emotions.
Did you know that already puppies understand human smiles as friendly? Dogs strive to live with us in harmony and I think we should do the same.
Luckily modern learning theory has given us the knowledge of how to train dogs without fear, pain or intimidation.

I use reward-based training methods to teach your dog. We will not leash-pop your dog or scold him. Instead we will smartly use rewards and good timing to show him exactly what it is we like.

The result of this is that dogs love our training. All of my clients’ dogs get excited and wiggly when they hear “It is training time.”

I strive to make training the funnest part of your dog’s day.

Outdoor Games and Focus Class