February 15, 2008
A FAQ I receive is: “How long will it take for my dog to be trained?” I hate to say it, but there is no simple answer…or magic wand. Every persons situation and dog is different. Whether it be a puppy that has been brought into a first time dog owners home, or a intra-familial dog-dog aggression case – all depend upon the humans that are taking care of the dog(s), and the dogs themselves. Some factors to consider are:
- Type of training – general manners, aggression/fear, guarding/predatory issues.
- Human involvement – keeping up with the training plan, setting the dog up for success.
For “good manners” courses I currently offer 4-session “intensives” as opposed to the traditional 6 week+ classes. Why? I found that most people are more likely to commit to a shorter time frame if they are receiving the information they want. And that for those that are into keeping up with their dogs behavior modification, will return for additional class time (my ongoing classes provide this type of training plan).
For the more difficult behaviorial issues, again it really depends upon the humans and dogs. But I would place more emphasis on the “humans” and their involvement. Think about how long it takes a human to change something about their own behavior? Something like smoking cessation takes quite some time to get over the “initial hump”. Afterwards, the person will need to help maintain this behavior by setting themselves up for success – spend time around non-smokers, go to places that don’t allow smoking etc… But it’s a lifelong process. With our dogs, there would be the “initial hump” – meaning more training. Once the dog is behaving in a way you want, you will still need to set the dog up for success, and help “maintain” the behavior by practicing elements of the initial training plan… Some of the dog-dog cases I’ve worked took many many months – with multiple training sessions every day, for extended periods of time.
So when I hear people asking me “how long will it take to train my dog?” I will ask “How much time, energy, and in some cases money, are you willing to put in?” and “How badly do you want it?”