Q: How much time does it take to train a dog?
A: It takes as long as it takes. Every dog is different. The only way your dog will learn to do something reliably is to have him repeat the behavior over and over in many different contexts or situations. There are no shortcuts. That being said, within days you can teach puppies of eight weeks of age how to sit, lie down, stay, come, go to their spot and many other behaviors. But he or she isn’t going to be reliable until they reach emotional maturity. Professional trainers view the ages of between one-and-a-half and four years old as the stage of emotional maturity. The degree of reliability is directly related to the number of successful responses in various environments as well as how skilled the teacher is. A good comparison is teaching a young child to tie his shoes, eat with a fork, or dress himself. It takes time and patience.
- So You Want to be a Dog Trainer by Nicole Wilde
- It’s Not the Dogs It’s the People by Nicole Wilde
- The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
- Positive Perspectives by Pat Miller
- Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
- The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
- Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
- How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks by Ian Dunbar
- Dog Behavior by Ian Dunbar
Other good DVDs and videos are Train your Dog (Wilde) and Take a Bow Wow(Boightman). Ian Dunbar has also produced several excellent videos. They all can be ordered online at www.dogwise.com. Two excellent magazines to subscribe to are The Whole Dog Journal (whole-dog-journal.org) and Animal Wellness Magazine (www.animalwellnessmagazine.com).
I would also suggest you attend as many dog training seminars as you can and watch and listen to as many trainers as you can. Like anything else, some instructors are competent and others not so, but you can always learn something. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.spca.com) has an excellent teacher training program as does Pat Miller (www.peaceablepaws.com).
And if you’re also interested in working in the dog rescue arena, Best Friends Sanctuary (www.bestfriends.org) has seminars on how to start a rescue organization.
My DVD, The Dog Whisperer, Beginning and Intermediate Dog Training for Puppies and Dogs, teaches only positive, nonviolent dog training methods.