Whether you are interested in obedience classes, taking up dog sports, or dealing with behavioral problems, a great trainer can change your life and your bond with your dog. But finding a great trainer that fits you and your pup’s needs can be difficult with all these abbreviations and terminology. Also, dog training is an unregulated business making it even harder to know who to trust. So here are basic things to consider when looking for a trainer.
- Credentials: While certifications with respectable dog training organizations aren’t required, they do represent a trainers dedication to science-based evidence and current learning methods for dogs. Some orgs often require continuing education credits to maintain their certifications, but not all. Be sure to also ask about their educational background, training experience, and apprenticeship experience. Some trainers take a more academic route while others may take a more experienced approach.
- Training philosophy: Ask potential trainers how they’ve handled dogs in your similar situation, or how they handle shy dogs, bold dogs, easily- distracted dogs, etc. Every dog is different and will require a unique approach to learning new things. Ultimately your trainer should aim to help you better understand your dog, teach you ways to help your dog learn, and foster a positive relationship. Additionally, a trainer should be upfront with all methods they use, regardless of if they will use it with your dog or not. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions! (More on positive reinforcement vs. balanced trainers vs. force-free on another post?)
- Comfort: A trainer should be open with you and you should feel comfortable with all the techniques and skills your trainer shows you (afterall, you will need to continue them after your trainer leaves). Be open with your trainer as well, if you don’t like something your trainer does to your dog, ask them to stop and re-evaluate.