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Professional Trainers: What to Expect, How to Decide

Getting professional help with training your Boxer is a great idea.

Not only do professionals have knowledge and expertise novices lack, but training classes can be an excellent way to socialize Boxers in a fun, safe atmosphere. A good professional trainer will teach you how to gain safe and humane control over your Boxer.

He or she will use positive reinforcement to elicit desirable behavior, and will focus on rewards, not punishment. Violent training methods that use physical pain, discomfort, or fear as a means of control or to force behavior should never be used when training a Boxer.

Unless it is completely unmanageable in social settings, consider a group class rather than private training for your Boxer. Group classes give your Boxer the benefit of interacting with other dogs of all types and sizes.
They learn to ignore distractions, and gain exposure to other people besides their owners and families. Dog-only lessons fail to teach owners how to interact appropriately with their dog, and this can be particularly damaging when the dog is a Boxer. Boxers are smart enough and ambitious enough to train their owners, given the opportunity.

If in doubt about your ability to take your Boxer to a group class, try one! The trainer will quickly tell you if private lessons are a more suitable alternative.

When choosing a trainer, investigate all of your options before making a decision. Start by asking for recommendations from your veterinarian, friends, or the humane society. Then, check the yellow pages for more options. Talk to each trainer individually, and ask plenty of questions. There is no government agency licensing trainers, so it is up to you to determine qualifications. What exactly are their qualifications? How and where were they educated as trainers?

How many years have they been training dogs? Do they have experience training Boxers? Can they provide references from Boxer owners? Chances are you will find a wide variety of answers among your prospects. Try making a list of pros and any cons for each trainer you call, and make a decision based on your overall impression.
Be sure to ask plenty of questions about group class formats, too. Class size should be limited to only a dozen or so dogs. There should be separate classes for puppies and adult dogs, as well as different levels based on former training experience.

Proof of vaccination should be required. Try to attend a class before signing up, and pay attention to the methods used, as well as the overall tone of the class. Is it somber and inhibiting for dogs and their owners, or fun and lively? While cost might be a consideration in selecting a trainer, try not to make it the deciding factor.
Training will likely cost a few hundred dollars, no matter which one you chose. This is a minimal expense for the long-term value of good training for you and your Boxer.

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