Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I be confident that my dog is in safe hands?

A: Absolutely. Please check out the ‘About Shaun section for full details on his national qualifications and over 25 years professional experience. We subscribe to and support the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for both dog training and dog behaviour, read our article on the NOS.

The Way of the Dog is always happy to provide details on all qualifications and accreditations held by our team, as well as references and case studies. If another provider isn’t – ask why not?

Q:  Do I need a trainer or a behaviourist?

A:  At the Way of the Dog we hold the view that ‘training’ is the teaching of a discipline or skill that is perhaps new to the dog and handler; whilst the work of a behaviourist concerns the modification of an existing unwanted or incompatible behaviour. On occasion a behaviourist may deploy normal training strategies as they address the fact that a dog won’t perform a desired behaviour.
It is useful to ask yourself this question: ‘Do I want to teach my dog new skills and behaviours, or modify existing traits and behaviours?’. Whatever you decide, we can help.

Q: How do I choose a dog trainer or behaviourist?

A: Whether you work with us or choose another consultancy we always recommend that you ask a few straightforward questions. Check that the provider has nationally recognised qualifications and ask to see those accreditations. Check that they have worked in the specialist field of dog training and behaviour modification throughout their career, and have not merely focused on dog walking or basic skills. Ask them for references and case study examples. Ask them what coaching, mentoring, or teaching qualifications they possess. Remember, some people are very good at handling and even training dogs but don’t have the understanding of how people learn or a qualification to teach people. Getting the best results for dogs involves helping their human owners learn too!

Q: Don’t local dog walkers offer training too?

A: Yes – some do. Dog walking courses are on the increase and are, in some cases, being designed and developed by individuals with very limited experience and qualifications. Certification as a dog walker does not constitute professional training qualifications.

There is a growing informal ‘industry’ in the UK around dog training – and many of those involved are walkers and lack the skills, qualifications and experience to provide the services dog owners need and deserve. This puts owners, dogs and the wider public at unnecessary risk. At The Way of the Dog we are at the forefront of building an ethical and professionalised sector, based on leading experience and recognised qualifications. As ever, we recommend that you ask questions of potential providers before spending any money – and – most importantly of all, before entrusting anyone with the care of your dog. 

Q: Can’t I just persevere and train my dog myself?

A: You may wish to do that, and some people do so successfully. It is worth noting that even leading industry experts seek assistance from fellow professionals. As in all forms of coaching and training, another set of eyes is very valuable. Even well intentioned training if delivered in fits and starts can reinforce unwanted behaviours, and may not deliver the best outcome for your dog or your family. Professional dog training services are an investment in your relationship with your dog. All dogs benefit from structured, professional training. It has a positive impact on health and wellbeing as well as behaviour. It helps all dogs reach their potential.

Your dog may have training and behavioural needs which impact on its own wellbeing and go onto affect your family and your home, your neighbours and your community. The majority of dog owners cannot manage these issues but by law are responsible for their dog and its behaviour. Left unchecked some issues and behaviours put people and other animals at serious risk. Remember, you are not alone – we can help you.

Q: Do some dog trainers specialise in certain breeds?

A: Some dog trainers do position themselves as specialising in specific breeds. They may do this purely because it is their favoured breed or it is where their experience is gained. At the heart of specialist dog training and behaviour modification is the understanding of how all dogs learn. This process is common to all breeds of dog. It is important to understand that dogs, like people, have different learning rates; however the laws of learning are universal to the species.

Q:  What should I do, I have already seen a behaviourist and been told that my dog should be euthanized?

A: STOP!  Please seek a second opinion immediately. Some practitioners calling themselves behaviourists lack the ability, experience, and knowledge to help their clients in their time of need. Sometimes they advise people to put their dog to sleep when the problem has been considered too difficult to address. There are many occasions when dogs are misunderstood, misdiagnosed, or are simply ill and need expert help and understanding. There are exceptions to the rule – occasionally some dogs may be considered dangerously out of control. However, do not under any circumstances have your dog destroyed unless you have sought qualified expert opinion.

Q: How much does it cost to own a dog? Can I afford that and training too?

A: Research* published in spring 2013 suggests that the average cost of owning a dog over its lifetime works out at around £12,000 and often far more. This includes an average of 26 visits to the Vet. Responsible owners see the costs of food, medicine, grooming and training as part of the overall costs incurred in providing a dog with proper lifelong care. In the context of lifetime dog ownership we believe that the investment in professional training represents great value and often pays for itself.

*Research carried out by tick and flea treatment Frontline Spot On, March 2013

Q: Do you have a pricelist?

A: Our specialist training and behaviour modification services are tailored to the needs of your dog in its own environment so a ‘one size fits all’ price list is not appropriate. Individual assessments are required, after which a bespoke programme is developed. You can be confident that your programme is fully itemised and costs transparent – we will take you through the schedule at every stage.

  • One-to-one dog training is available from £40, new clients are expected to book an initial 4 session programme at a cost of £160.
  • Puppy Development is a bespoke course delivered individually and may be breed specific, costs are variable.
  • Group Obedience Training courses are only available to existing clients who have undertaken a period of one-to-one training. Courses are variable with differing content – groups sizes are strictly managed to ensure appropriate levels of attention and tuition.
  • Behaviour modification programmes are costed according to specific needs and issues; programmes start at £450. Dog insuracne policies may cover for behavioural referrals.

Full schedules of fees for Specialist Services are provided to clients on request.

Q:  Why do prices vary in the dog training industry?

A: This is largely because the sector is unregulated; qualification, experience, and knowledge is extremely varied.  Prices are not always reflective of an individuals ability or competency whether or not they are high or low. As when you are making any other kind of investment in your home or lifestyle, it pays to do a bit of research and ask some questions before spending any money.

Q: What areas do you serve?

A: Whilst based in Bolton, The Way of the Dog serves Bury, Chorley and the rest of the North West of England. Travel expenses may be levied for journey times.

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