I was minded to write this because of recent experiences helping people with their dogs.
There are many ‘experts’ out there to turn to with our dog questions or problems. So many, in fact, that it can be quite confusing for dog owners.
Before I continue, let me ask a question. If you have a boiler issue at home, who do you turn to? Is it a carpet fitter, a local handyman or a heating engineer? I assume your answer will be the heating engineer? Of course, this person is qualified and possesses the skills needed to help you.
The dog training and behaviour world is unregulated. This means that anyone can set up as a trainer or behaviourist with little or no knowledge. Often I see ‘experts’ charging money because they have had some dogs over the years – they have no formal training or qualifications other than ‘I’ve been around dogs for years.’
I am a canine behaviourist who has studied the subject in-depth and has the appropriate qualifications to be able to professionally help people with their dogs. What I am not is a dog trainer and would not profess to be. However, as part of my behavioural work, I need to offer some basic training advice. But anything beyond basic training (sit, stay, recall, etc) I would suggest a qualified dog trainer.
So, to my point. There is an increasing number of dog trainers that offer behavioural advice – most of these trainers have no behavioural qualifications, whatsoever. Of course, there are exceptions – some are both qualified dog trainers and qualified behaviourists – fair enough.
The result of this trend is that I often meet people with their dogs who are confused and have, frankly, been given very poor advice regarding the behavioural issues of their dog. An example – I met a local chap with a newly rescued young boxer. A beautiful and lively dog, firmly attached to its lead. He had been told by a major rescue centre and an independent dog trainer that his dog must be kept on the lead and not allowed to meet other dogs because of its excitability. Appalling.
My simple advice is if you have dog training requirements, go to a dog trainer. If your dog has behavioural issues, make sure the person you choose to help is qualified in that area.