Owners may need training help
It's one thing to work with little Spanky in the yard and through the judicious use of treats teach him to sit up or roll over.
But bigger challenges -- digging, aggression, mindless barking and the like -- require more than a Milk-Bone. Sometimes you need a professional.
First, though, talk to a veterinarian to be sure there are no physical issues causing the behavior. The next step is hiring a trainer or behaviorist.
"Take into account the problem you're having or what you want," says Kristen Collins, director of anti-cruelty behavior services with the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. "Say you have an untrained dog or a dog that's rowdy when it greets people ... (if you want) to treat behaviors, a trainer is your best bet. But (for) fear, anxiety or aggression, your best bet is to go with certified behaviorists."
See if the trainer will give you information on former clients so you can talk to them. And, she adds, seek "trainers who emphasize reward-based training (and) positive reinforcement. Make sure they use humane training equipment. Ask specifically about the methods the trainer will use to make sure you're OK with them."
If you're considering a group class, ask to watch one. If a trainer says no, look elsewhere. They should welcome you to sit in, she says.
Cost: Eight-week sessions can cost anywhere from $60 to $200. In-home lessons cost more because you'll get personal attention. Group classes are almost always less expensive.
The ASPCA offers an excellent and free pet behavior database at aspcabehavior.org.