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      Consumer Confidential: Hiring a Dog Trainer

      Is a new puppy on your wish list this Christmas? You better be prepared. Up to eight million pets are abandoned in U.S. shelters each year, according to the Humane Society. And many times, itâ??s because owners are just too overwhelmed by bad behavior.

      But hiring a dog trainer can go a long way toward keeping you from getting overwhelmed.

      Trainers can help fix a number of issues such as barking, jumping, running away, and pulling on a leash. And Laura Teichmann, who trains at Amarilloâ??s Willow Creek Kennels, says itâ??s best to work on a dogâ??s behavior before the honeymoon of owning him is over. â??The first year that you own the dog,â?? she says, â??itâ??s really important to build a relationship with him, to get that obedience behind him, and to really make him a really big member of the family.â??

      Training methods vary, and classes can be taught in group or individual sessions. Some trainers will even take your dog for a few days or weeks and train them at a facility. Thatâ??s called â??board and trainâ??. â??Thatâ??s where you give us your dog for two weeks and then you can just come and follow it up,â?? Teichmann says. â??And that, in todayâ??s busy lifestyle, that seems to be one of the better options.â??

      Puppies can enroll in training as soon as theyâ??ve had their necessary vaccinations. â??No age is too young, honestly,â?? Teichmann advises, â??but youâ??ve got to watch because puppies are so susceptible to diseases and stuff. Until theyâ??re four months old and have completed all their shots, they really canâ??t go to a group-type class.â??

      Hereâ??s what she says about young children getting involved early with dog obedience classes and training: â??I have done a lot of training with customers who started off with their dogs at four months old, and they were six or seven years old. And now their teenagers are going off to college -- and theyâ??ve still got that same dog. And itâ??s a loving relationship with these guys. They build this relationship from the beginning. So they really need to be involved.â??