How to Find the Right Dog Trainer
It’s a common assumption that all dog training involves a group class where everyone stands in a circle and learns “sit” and “stay” with their dogs. And while this can be one type of training, there is a plethora of options and strategies when it comes to dog training. So, once you’ve Googled “dog trainers near me” and gotten 127 million results, how do you know which one to pick? Keep reading to learn the 4 simple steps you should take to find best dog trainer for your needs!
1. Find the Right Type of Class
It’s important to determine what you hope to gain from training. Are you looking for basic obedience commands, or are you really just looking for someone to help your dog behave better in public and on a leash? Does your dog have some problem behaviors that you’re trying to eliminate? Maybe your dog has too much energy and you’re looking for a better outlet than chewing up all your furniture.
Additionally, you should determine if you’re looking for a group class where your dog will hopefully obtain some socialization skills, or do you think your dog will focus better with one-on-one training. All of these options and more are probably available in your area.
You also may want to consider where your dog is more apt to pay attention, because some dog trainers only offer training in their facilities, while others will come to your home for class. Certain trainers will even board your dog for a predetermined period and return them to you with some level of training.
2. Find the Right Kind of Trainer
Dog training is an unregulated industry. Anyone can start a dog training business and charge for their services, regardless of education or experience. Look at the online bio of a potential trainer to determine what credentials they have or ask them directly.
Membership in an organization such as the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers is not mandatory for trainers, but it shows their commitment to the profession and interest in continuing education. It can also be helpful to speak directly with the trainer to see how they interact with you. A good trainer will be training you just as much as they will be training your dog. The best trainers will be part instructor, part therapist, and part dog to human language interpreters!
3. Use Positive Training Methods
Find out what type of methods the trainer uses. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and certified animal behaviorists in general, recommend positive-based methods for all dogs, especially puppies. Aversive-based training can take a puppy with a confident personality and make him less willing to try new things. But what’s worse, is that a more sensitive puppy may have more serious fear-based consequences when aversive methods are used.
4. Use Your Gut Instinct
It can be helpful to take recommendations from your neighbors or your veterinarian, but the most important thing is that both you and your dog get along with the trainer. If you ever feel that your trainer is getting frustrated or losing patience with your dog, find a new trainer.
If you’re able to sit in on a class before signing up, definitely do this! If the dogs and the owners all look like they’re relaxed and enjoying themselves, then this could be the right trainer for you. Happy dogs are more motivated to learn, and happy owners are more likely to keep coming back to the class.
Here are some links to help you find a trainer near you:
Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant Directory
Association of Professional Dog Trainers
NOTE: If your dog has significant fears and/or aggression, you may need to seek out the help of a behavioral specialist instead of a dog trainer. Look for a qualified behaviorist using these links:
American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Training a Perfectly Polite Puppy
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