Obviously if you’re reading this blog you know I love dogs, too. But training them is something I’m just not good at. You know those moms who let their kids do whatever they want because they’re so cute? Yeah, that’s me with Reggie White. Given my love of dogs, people always ask me questions about training…clearly, I’m no expert. But I do know one—Ali. Here, he answered some questions that may help you if you’re a dog or puppy owner looking to help your pup live their best life.
Nikki: How long have you been training dogs?
Ali Hemyari: “I’ve been training dogs since 2000, something I started while I was in school at the University of Tennessee.”
NB: What do you love most about training dogs?
AH: “I love seeing the difference a little mental stimulation and exercise can make. Dogs are crazy smart and they’re looking at being interacted with. Once we finish training a client’s dog, the expression on the owner’s face is always priceless. That’s our motivation.”
NB: What is the biggest mistake you see dog owners make with their pets?</div>
AH: “When the dog owner crosses the line from passion to obsession, that’s a problem. It’s almost an injustice to the species to humanize to the extent they’re humanized and both the dogs/owners alike start having behavioral challenges. I remember I met a nice lady at Nashville Humane’s dog day last year who visited our demonstration table pushing a stroller. I thought, what a nice day for her and the baby to be out. Once she got close enough, I did a double take at a dog being pushed around in a stroller. The irony was the lady was seeking behavioral advice about her dog.”
NB: What is the secret to a happy, well-trained pup?
AH: “The biggest secret is a tired pup is a happy pup. The more mental stimulation they gain from training, the better. If you couple that with exercise – you win!”
NB: Is it too late to teach an old dog new tricks?
AH: “Never. Dogs are resilient and learn at any age. It may take a bit more time to condition a bad behavior out of a dog, but it’s definitely possible!”
NB: You bring a new puppy home… what is the first thing you should do in terms of training?
AH: “We always recommend people purchase our online dog training website, NashvilleK9University.com. They have access to over 120 training videos to get them started off on the right paw forward. In addition, good dog food and a hard plastic kennels crate.”
NB: Do you recommend using food and treats to train dogs?
AH: “Yes. Food is the basis of all mammal training. If you can hybridize Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning, you’ll be an amazing training.”
NB: What about spanking? A no-no?
AH: “Spanking is a big no-no and can lead to future aggressive behaviors. Remember, this is a dog not a human (not implying that’s ok either). The different species do not intake that methodology the same way a human would.”
NB: Potty training is so tough. Any basic tips for that?
AH: “Use a kennel crate, a set routine, and frequent trips outside. Once your pup learns not to pee or poo in the small box, they’ll learn not to do it in the big box. Every time they urinate or defecate outside, use a verbal marker to mark it (Good pee, Good poo). A good rule of thumb is however many months old they are, that’s how long they can hold it for: 2 months- 2 hours, 3 months- 3 hours, etc.”
NB: What about tips for getting your pup to not pull on a leash?
AH: “This one we’d refer you again to NashvilleK9University.com and learn step by step. We believe in truly teaching your dog what to do and not a potential band-aid like harnesses and halti’s.”
NB: What about dogs that constantly chew on things they’re not supposed to?
AH: “This one is a right of passage for puppy owners. They’re curious and investigate with their mouths! Try dedicating toys, exercise, and training at routine times.”
NB: What is the most annoying thing you see dog owners do?
AH: “Sleeping in bed with dogs has proven to increase separation anxiety in the formative ages of puppies lives. It’s difficult to explain that to someone who is looking at fixing their dog’s separation anxiety, especially those that have started medication on their dogs, but they don’t want to stop the bed co-sleep.”
NB: Anything counter-productive you see dog owners do that makes you cringe?
AH: “Nope. They keep me in business. =)”
NB: All dogs are good dogs, until they are taught to be bad. Is this true?
AH: “No, all dogs are good. There may be bad dog owners, but no bad dogs.”
NB: BONUS question: Are cats trainable?
AH: “Every mammal is trainable, but we like to focus our efforts on man’s best friend. =)”