Anyone can be a so called “dog trainer.” You, your grandpa, or the crazy cat lady down the street. The truth is the industry itself is not regulated. This is a scary thought. It translates to there being no standards in how to properly educate humans to have successful relationships with their dogs. It also means any tool or technique can be used, or abused, to condition a dog.
My number one tip I’d like to share with all of you to know whether or not a trainer is actually any good is to look at their own dog. How does it behave? Is it a robot, just acting out commands? Does it know how to be calm? Is it hyper and constantly alert? Does it seem anxious or uneasy? Does it bark nonstop until it gets a reward like a treat or ball toss? Is it friendly with other dogs? Does it pull on leash? Does it actually listen to the trainer? Can the dog be good with a different handler? My point is, does the dog behave in a way that you want your dog to behave? That is the most important question.
Buyer be ware if the dog shows any problem behaviours, especially those you are trying to fix in your own dog. To me it’s even more suspicious if the dog isn’t even at a training class. As a trainer myself, Carmen (my dog) is my BIGGEST asset and a huge marketing tool. This makes it sound like I pimp my dog out, when in fact I don’t. I do take my dog everywhere with me though, especially to classes I teach, and have people comment on how social, calm and well behaved she is (notice I didn’t use the word “Obedient”). Carmen is my demo dog in showing how to do things properly. She is proof of my own training methods and consistently doing exactly what I instruct clients to do with their dogs. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t hire a fat personal trainer, or a dentist with bad teeth. You’d want someone who is truly good at what they do because they practice what they preach.
Here are 5 more tips to ensure you pick a qualified dog trainer.
- Don’t just hire who is cheap or affordable, because I strongly believe you get what you pay for. When training your dog, be prepared to invest in the education, and hire who you think qualifies as THE BEST.
- Look at the trainers experience. What qualifies them to do what they do? Do they work with dogs on a daily basis? Do they continue to educate themselves on dog behaviour? Who trained them in what they know?
- Always be sure you understand a trainers methods before signing up for their services and shop around for what feels right for you and your dog.
- Educate your self through reading books as well as blogs (like this one *shameless plug*) and watching tv shows and educational videos on dog behaviour so you can understand more what style of training you’d like to use.
- You can also talk to existing or former clients of a trainer to hear how they liked the experience and what successes they saw. Why not check references to make sure the trainer is a good teacher.
Be aware that some training can worsen the issues you may see in your dog or even create new bad habits. You are the guardian of your pet. You want what is best for them, and so should your trainer. They should be the expert in all things dog and address your’s and your dog’s needs. They should definitely know what they are doing and be fully versed on what the outcome will be.
I like to think that most dog trainers and behaviourists like myself invest in proper training and education to ensure the highest quality in their profession. The result being balanced pups, happy owners, and harmonious lives together.