Most dog trainers are caring, talented people who only want the best for you and your beloved pooch. Unfortunately, there are a few poorly trained people or outright bad apples. By knowing what to look for in a dog trainer, you and your canine companion can have an excellent experience.
Why Do You Want A Trainer?
It’s important to consider why you want a trainer. There are many reasons for seeking a dog trainer, including:
- Teaching Fido basic obedience skills such as sit, lie down, come here, stay, etc.
- Curing Rover of destructive behaviors such as digging, tearing up newspapers, running away, etc.
- Combating separation anxiety.
- Socializing your pooch for better interactions with strange pets and people.
- Fun things such as dog sports (e.g., agility, herding, swimming, and lure coursing) or trotting for dog shows.
You can have more than one reason in mind, of course. However, getting clear on your initial goal will better help you find the right trainer.
The best way to find the right dog trainer is to talk to someone you already know, like, and trust. Your veterinarian or other dog owners you know are great resources. If your pooch has a groomer, ask them about dog trainers.
Your local animal rescues or breed clubs are also great resources.
Try to avoid finding a random person online whenever possible.
Regardless of how you find potential dog trainers, always look up their online reviews. Get references as well.
Questions To Ask
As with anything, the way you ask questions is as important as what you ask. While any responsible animal care professional will welcome questions, don’t make them feel interrogated or on the defensive.
Also, keep an eye on your intuition or “gut.” If something feels off with this trainer’s answers or personality, it probably is. You can (and should) politely move on.
- Do you use positive reinforcement training? (You don’t want someone who uses harsh or aggressive techniques!)
- Will you come to my home if this is what’s best for my dog? (Keep in mind that this will cost more money.)
- May I see where you train dogs? (if applicable)
- Do you have any certifications? (Keep in mind that while dog training is an unregulated industry, there are certifications and lists kept through organizations such as the American Kennel Club/AKC.)
- What is your experience with (name the main issue you want to address during training)?