Similar to other human endeavors, the success of dog training and dog behavior modification efforts involving both a dog trainer and a dog owner is dependent upon acceptance of responsibility and good communication. Here are some dog training tips and rules of the road for such situations.
To start, Dog Trainer, you must always remember to ask as many thoughtful and pointed questions of the owner as possible. This is an absolute necessity if the dog trainer is to have a good understanding of the animal before beginning the first dog training session, to start on the right foot. You never have a second chance to make a first impression in the dog world.
Dog Owner, you have a responsibility to be detailed on both the good and the bad in your pet. Only then can the dog trainer - dog behaviorist diagnose the problem fully and take the best remedial steps. You must also speak out your full expectations so they can be accomplished.
Some areas you should cover and amplify include:
1- Historical information about your dog -- Age, how old he was when adopted, where you got him, etc.
2- The dog behavior problem -- Full description, how it manifests, under what circumstances, and how often.
3- What happened the first time? -- What did the dog do first, how did you handle it at that moment and right afterward, how did the dog respond, how old was the dog, other factors, and how much has the behavior increased since then?
4- What have you done about it since then? -- Also, what have other family members done about it, what are you doing now, how has the dog reacted each time, etc.?
5- Information about your dog's environment and exposures - e.g., your home, yard, doggie door and yard freedom or always out on a leash, neighborhood, parks, other pets, other family members and ages, kennel trained, etc.
6- You dog's daily exercise -- e.g., how often, when, how far, is it "free time" or focused and disciplined (mental challenge), etc.?
7- Any other things you do not like about your dog?
Expose everything pertinent to the pet and circumstances that you can think of. Don't forget allergies and health issues that might have an effect.
Dog Trainer, point out issues right away, explaining dog behavior problems to the Owner. For example, if the dog displays dog dominance behavior such as claiming something, the Owner needs to be made aware of what is really going on. This is not just some cute little annoyance, but the seed of a major dog behavior problem!
Dog Trainer, do not in any way intimidate the Dog Owner or make him feel foolish. Be understanding. Recognize that he called on you because he realizes and acknowledges the need for your experience. Commend him, for that takes courage.
Dog Owner, never lie to a dog trainer if your dog has certain tendencies. Especially if your dog is aggressive or fearful, the trainer needs to know the tendency of his reactions. Otherwise, there may be a nasty dog bite, and the results you seek may be impeded.
Dog Owner, listen to the dog trainer. Do not become surly or sarcastic with one who is trying to help. Do not waste the trainer's time if you are not going to follow her directions and be consistent. Do not try to blame the trainer if you are not consistent.
Dog Trainer, do not tell the Dog Owner: "People need training, not dogs." It is called DOG TRAINING for a reason!
Dog Trainer, realize that people need to be instructed in how to read dog body language, to become the leader of the pack, and how to follow through with your instructions ... How to train a dog! People need encouragement, not criticism. Sometimes, the problem is the DOG!
Dog Trainer, hear the Dog Owner out and listen to all he says about the dog. Eat every word, and draw out every piece of information you may need. Remember, you need to feed the Dog Owner if he is stuck. You need to be a skilled interviewer, to draw out all you need to know about the dog and the circumstances.
Keeping these thoughts in mind makes it easier for both the Dog Trainer and the Dog Owner. It is no more fun for a Dog Trainer than a Dog Owner to deal with someone who is full of himself ... That is counterproductive. Keep you eye on your goal -- dog behavior modification and dog training.