Picking Your Dog Trainer

Picking a pet trainer to help teach you and your dog how to reliably communicate with one another can be an arduous experience.

There are options galore, and no true governing body that regulates who can or can’t train dogs, as well as any requirement on the type of education needed to be able to work with dogs. It is worth taking some time to interview various trainers in order to find someone that best fits you, and the goals you have for your dog.

When interviewing a trainer, there are a few things I like to ask that give a strong picture of who they are and the work they do:

1. Find out how long they have been training dogs and how they got their start.

Again, because there is no regulation on education, experience is going to be the best way to judge experience.

“Overall, you need to find a trainer you and your dog enjoy working with.”

2. Get information on the methodology the trainer uses.

What education do they have on the theory behind the work that they do? A deep understanding of dog behavior and how dog’s learn is the foundation behind any dog training program.

3. Ask the trainer to evaluate your dog.

In my opinion, this should be a free service as it is a way for you and the trainer to make sure you are a good match for one another.

4. Ask to see the trainer’s “demo dog”.

Most trainers have their go-to dog that they use for training with their clients. Of course, I look to make sure the dog has strong obedience skills that I would look for in my training work, but I mostly pay attention to how the dog works with their handler. Do they have a good expression? Do they like to work with their person? Does it seem like the trainer and the dog have a strong relationship? Anyone who has dogs knows how crucial this bond can be in training, and for me that is one of the most telling factors in considering working with a trainer.

Overall, you need to find a trainer you and your dog enjoy working with. Training is a lifestyle, and your trainer should help inspire you to keep working with your dog and helping you achieve goals.

*Marie is co-owner and trainer with Bay Area K9 Association

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