Sit, Down, Stay

When your new puppy, older dog or rescue needs training

Tell us where you grew up. Did your childhood include a dog?
I’m Adrian Dinh and I grew up in Melbourne, Australia. I had a Maltese Shih Tzu named Charlotte.

What got you interested in becoming a dog trainer?
My aunt gave me her dog to watch for three months, and at the time I was learning how to walk a dog properly, simple commands, and how to have the right energy to be a leader for your dog. After that, I decided that since I couldn’t own my own dog I could walk everyone else’s dogs, apply knowledge and satisfy both the dog and the dog-owner’s lives.

Because the dog training industry is so unregulated, how can a pet parent assure the trainer they are hiring is a “good one”?
Being a self-taught trainer myself, when looking for a good trainer for their dog, above all else, is for the trainer to have a lot of patience, then have great knowledge and experience, and lastly, have the right energy (leadership) for the job.

Are your clients mostly locals or expats?
My clients are mostly expats at the moment, with more time and awareness among the Vietnamese community in Saigon I would like to help locals with their dogs as well.

What are the most common problems dogowners come to you for?
The most common problems are overexcitement, dog-to-dog aggression, and neurotic behaviors such as excessive barking.

Do you use positive reinforcement or the aversive method and why?
The training method I use is instinctual dog training inspired by Cesar Milan. I believe it’s a balanced combination of positive reinforcement and discipline. The reason I adopt this method is because it respects the natural aspect of dogs, it’s easier to understand the dog’s body language, and can teach dog-owners the techniques and energy to become a leader for their dogs.

What is your advice to new pet parents on training?
My advice is to create good habits such as setting rules, setting boundaries and creating limitations with your puppy so in the future the older they get, the less difficult the dog will be to train.

What mistakes do you see owners commonly make?
Owners not having enough knowledge and education on the responsibility of owning a dog, and also dog pulling.

Is there one thing you wish all dog-owners knew?
That is to understand that dogs are not only their babies, their names and their personalities, but also that all dogs need to be satisfied of being a breed, a dog and an animal.

Why is training important, regardless of the size of your dog?
Training is important because it creates a healthy relationship between the owner and their dog—able to communicate with each other and other people.

When training a dog what is the most important thing to remember?
The most important thing to remember is the energy of being calm and assertive, and having a lot of patience.

What are your favorite “treats” for training?
I don’t use treats for my training unless necessary, I use crispy bacon bits to get their immediate attention, redirect their focus from distractions, and reinforce the good behavior. The best treat is the owner’s affection.

How do you decide on a training program for each dog?
I consult with the dog-owners about their dogs, their background, behavioral history, their short and long term issues that differ with each dog and depending how extreme each behavior is this determines how long the training process will take. Then the sessions proceed by reenacting the situation and showing the owners the correct way of correcting a behavior, and then give the owners homework before the next session.

What’s the most rewarding part of your career?
The most rewarding part is being a part of the change and progress in creating a balanced and healthy relationship [between dog and owner]. Giving dog owners the knowledge and techniques that they may struggle with even after they read books or watch videos.

What’s the most challenging part?
That would be owners not finding the time for their dog’s training session, cancellations, and some dogs that have mental issues such as trauma and irrational fears.

As a trainer, what are your views on adopting versus going to a breeder?
I recommend adoption rather than going to a breeder because we have too many dogs who need immediate help. Dogs who are mixed breed are more likely to be healthier, less likely to get hereditary diseases and less costly, usually.

Dogs respond differently to different trainers so do your research before hiring one, trust your instinct and your dog’s responsiveness. It is imperative that you find the right trainer for your  dog.

Image by Vy Lam

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