Training your dog with Jacey Debiak

Jacey Debiak is a professional dog trainer with over fifteen years of experience. She currently works at Playful Paws in Radcliff, where she teaches group lessons, private lessons, and in-kennel classes.

Before she became a dog trainer, she worked in a veterinary clinic. After she brought home a German Shepherd Dog that required formal training, she sought out instruction from Elizabeth Reyes. Not long after that, Reyes offered Debiak a job and she accepted it.

Is dog training necessary?

“Dog training is absolutely necessary,” Debiak said in a Facebook Live video interview. She explained that training isn’t necessarily for teaching behaviors because dogs already know how to do most things. Training is teaching dogs to understand human language so that they can associate words with behaviors they already know how to do.

One of the most important considerations you must make when training your dog is to learn how to speak in a way your dog understands. With many different ways of training dogs, there is no one “right way” to do it. According to Debiak, you must find out what works for your dog and do that.

What’s the best method for training your dog?

Some trainers focus on corrections while others focus on a positive mindset. Debiak says she uses a balanced method that focuses on beginning with a positive mindset but using appropriate correction techniques as needed. She developed this philosophy after learning from many different trainers. In fact, she encourages people to learn from many different teachers (even those you might disagree with) because it will expose you to a variety of solutions. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better off you will be when it comes to working with your own dog.

When is the best time to start training a dog?

Debiak said she gets this question all the time. There is a saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but this is more of a myth. If you happen to adopt a dog from the shelter that is an older dog, you can teach them new behaviors but it takes a bit longer because you have to overcome habits that have taken years to develop. With patience and dedication, you can teach an older dog new tricks well into their teenage years.

An ideal time to begin training is when the dog is at least twelve weeks old and has received its full series of puppy vaccinations. The theory behind this is that young puppies are more malleable because they haven’t had years to develop unwanted behaviors.

No matter what age you start to train your dog, keep in mind that it can take anywhere from 3 to 4 days for a dog to learn a new command.

How much does dog training cost?

The investment for dog training will vary by location. At Playful Paws, group classes are $99 for four weeks. Private lessons are also available for $45 per session. They also have in-kennel classes for $600 for two weeks.

What suggestions do you have for people who cannot afford training?

Debiak said that the best clients are the ones who offer to barter for instruction. For example, someone might come in and offer to clean kennels in exchange for training. She is willing to work with clients like this because their level of commitment is much stronger than people who are willing to simply throw money at it.

For those who cannot afford training and might not have the time available to volunteer their time, she suggested visiting dog parks and looking for owners who have well-behaved dogs. She said to ask them questions to find out what they do. There’s a good chance you might learn something from the success stories of others that will work for your dog.

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