Selecting a Trainer©

The correct selection of a professional trainer to help a family with their dog training and behavior problems is essential. A good trainer should combine a variety of methods and be sensitive to the individual needs of the owner and the dog. While convenience, cost and scheduling are considerations, finding a class, having in-home consultation or placing your dog into a Board and Train facility where you feel comfortable and successful should be your primary concern.

  1. Interview trainers.  Make sure that you are comfortable and have a level of trust in the individual that is assisting you in training your dog.  Have them meet your dog and see their interaction with your dog.  Have them demonstrate what they can do with your dog.  Many times, just a few minutes of watching a trainer work your dog will show you the results that the trainer will be able to help you achieve with your dog.  Watch them work their own dog.  Seeing the relationship that they have with their own dogs will also give you good information to assist you in choosing a trainer.
  2. Training methods vary among the professional training community. Visit with trainers, ask them about their training theory, tools, and methods to help determine which would work best for you. A good trainer should have the ability to utilize more than one method and tool, dependent upon the specific owner, dog and their training needs.  Keep in mind that many trainers have flexible programs which can be tailored to your needs. Others have specific areas which they specialize in. A good trainer should be able to educate clients on training methods as well as training tools.  Speaking with them can help you decide which method and tool may suit your needs best.
  3.  If you have a specific problem with your dog, ask trainers how much experience they have had with this problem. Ask if they have experience with your breed.  Ask for a list of their clients with similar problems that you may talk with.
  4. Ask questions if you don’t understand their program or if something doesn’t sound right.
  5.  Where possible observe the trainer with other dogs before enrolling. Are lessons orderly and enjoyable? Are students struggling with their dogs without getting help? Does the trainer use assistants to manage large classes? If a trainer won’t allow you to observe them, look elsewhere.
  6. How does the trainer interact with the dogs? Is the treatment too rough? Does the trainer genuinely enjoy dogs? Do the dogs enjoy the trainer? How does the trainer’s own dog relate to the instructor? Would you be proud to have a dog that behaved like the trainer’s dog?
  7. A class instructor/trainer only spends a short time each week with the students’ dogs. Is the instructor preparing the student to practice until the next lesson?
  8. Interview the trainers you are considering. Ask where they got their experience. How long have they been teaching? Ask about failures as well as successes.
  9. Not all dogs and owners can be trained to the same performance standard in the same length of time. Look for trainers who offer to make time for students who need extra attention.
  10. Some trainers offer guarantees for their work. Be sure you understand what their guarantee implies. Trainers stake their reputation on the satisfaction of their clients, and some make great efforts to assist them in reaching their training goals. Remember, the level of training a dog attains depends greatly on an owner’s or handler’s contribution and not on the instruction of a trainer alone.
  11. Refuse to deal with trainers who make you uncomfortable.
  12. Is the trainer a member of a Professional Trainers organization such as The International Association of Canine Professionals or National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors?
  13. Has the trainer received any type of professional education, including schooling, seminars, conferences, etc.? How are they continuing their education in the canine profession? Have they received certification from any specific school, program, or organization? Remember that there is currently no government-regulated licensing required for dog trainers. It is up to the individual trainer to educate themselves in every way they can.