Does your dog refuse to go for a walk? Does she pull relentlessly on the leash before shooting off into the bush to chase a skittish squirrel? Are you trying to get him to roll over?
According to Elmira’s Bernie Martin, treats are not the best way to get your dog to obey your commands.
“A lot of dog trainers just cover up the problem; like if the dog’s pulling, they’ll put a harness or a pinch collar on them to try to solve the problem, but that just covers up the problem,” Martin said in an interview.
The Elmira man recently completed a dog-training course with Brad Pattison, from the TV show At the End of My Leash.
Pattison’s certified educator trainers course (CET) is a six-week intensive training course that provides students with information and practical experience to better understand their canines.
It’s not intended for students who wish to bring their dog and have its behavioural issues fixed. Instead, the course is designed for people who wish to help dog owners become better caregivers of their pets.
Graduated students are then required to attend a mandatory weekend CET seminar once a year for continued education.
Now that he has completed the course, Martin is looking to start his own local branch of the organization.
“We actually figure out what the problem is and work on that. … No forms of masking it, as they call it.”
A dog, Martin says, may misbehave because it doesn’t respect its owner; or it might pull heavily on its leash because it has become bored with the same-old walking route, and is “not getting the mental stimulation it needs.”
The key to successfully training a dog is uncovering and addressing the core reasons why it is misbehaving rather than awarding it treats for good demeanor or threatening it with punishment when it gets out of line, he explained.
Instead, Martin’s method entails using a martingale collar and a six-foot leash. The martingale collar provides more control over the animal without the choking effect of a slip collar.
As part of his dog training service, Martin will offer both private, individual lessons, as well as group sessions. Lessons can take place at owners’ homes as well as at parks throughout the township. The idea is to train dogs in real-life environments.
“Every class is in a different location: might be a park or might be in town,” he said.
It is crucial, however, for the owner to be present during the training sessions.
“I’m a certified educator/trainer, so it’s not only dog training, it’s also educating people about dogs and their potential and kind of how dogs think and work.
“It gives people some knowledge about their pets.”
The issues his classes touch on include street safety and dog handling when out on the streets; obedience, and dealing with aggression. The private training lessons (up to two hours) run anywhere from one to five sessions. Group sessions, with two classes a week, can run for eight weeks.
“It depends on what the owner wants to accomplish with their dog, what they see as a success with their dog,” he explained, noting that the length of the lessons also depends on the behaviour of the dogs.
Martin added the training classes are also beneficial for the dog owners, as they require exercise for both.
As part of his new business, Martin also offers pre-pet consultations, where people can obtain information before getting a dog.
As he is looking to get his new business up and running, Martin said he is also thinking about working with Pattison’s organization as it looks to set up a dog rescue for stray dogs in Cancun, Mexico, an area where it is estimated that some 150,000 stray dogs run loose.