How to Choose a Dog Trainer

A brand new year is just around the corner and with that comes new resolutions and goals. One of those goals may be to train your new puppy, perhaps brush up on your dog’s manners or enrol them in a specialty class. Whatever your reason it’s good to know what to look for in choosing a Dog Trainer.

The Pet Industry is unregulated and with that comes a slurry of trainers with various methods, experience and backgrounds. What does this mean? Some trainers have graduated from accredited schools and some trainers have experience being around animals and have had success training them, but their training styles may be different.

Firstly, you’ll want to choose a humane trainer. A humane trainer uses positive science-based methods that are proven to be more effective. Positive Reinforcement Trainers have the knowledge (science and research) along with experience to effectively teach your dog desired behaviours in a positive approach, meaning they will never use fear or punishment to train your dog. Punishment and corrective methods do not teach your dog appropriate behaviours in place of the undesired one. It merely says, “don’t do this.” Fall out and frustration are some common responses to an aversive type of training method. Think about it, when you were in school, did you like being told you were wrong. Everyone enjoys learning when they’re succeeding. It’s motivating.

Find a dog trainer who has graduated from an accredited institution. Being a graduate from a reputable, distinguished institution comes with a degree of standard. The learning and training curriculum are rigorous and each student is upheld to the standard of that institution’s governing body so even though the industry as a whole may not be regulated, that trainer is conforming to the school’s culture and philosophy.

Trainers who are always updating their skills and education through continuing education is a bonus since you’ll be getting the latest and greatest training techniques and solutions. Science is constantly evolving. Change is inevitable and there are numerous ways to accomplish the same thing. That saying “what works for one, may not work for the other” is true, but that doesn’t mean you change your method of training, you simply change the delivery of instruction.

Speciality Training – Do you have a specific issue? Perhaps you’re looking for a trainer to help you with a particular concern. You’ll want to find out if the trainer has specialty training. For example, are they experienced with dealing with rescue/fearful dogs? Aggressive Dogs? Agility? Scent Detection? This is information you will want to gather prior to hiring them. Not all trainers are alike and skilled in each area.

Availability and location are also factors in your decision. When would you like to start? Does this trainer offer group classes, private training, phone consultations? The best time to start training your dog is when you get your dog. Young puppies may not be fully vaccinated, but their socialization window when they are absorbing the world is short. During this time their minds are like sponges and ready to be molded. While waiting to begin classes problematic behaviours may arise – a private trainer is a good option in this situation. There is no risk to your puppy getting infectious diseases and they’re beginning to learn good manners. It’s best to get your dog settled and into a routine from the beginning. Everyone loves structure and so does your dog. Predictability is your friend.

Group classes are a fun and easy way to socialize your dog. It offers the distraction piece to the three D’s during learning. You’ll want to be sure to look for smaller class sizes of 5-6 other students to allow for optimum engagement and one on one support from the instructor.

So you’re researching and found someone you like. Do they service your area? If not, do they offer a rate for travel? Is it possible for you to visit them in their area? – All good points to consider.

And lastly have fun with it. Participate and engage with your animal, be a part of their learning evolution and form that special connection through the process. Empower your pets and make a well-informed decision. A humane and positive approach is a natural confidence builder and will reap rewards for both you and your dog.

Happy Training!

Author: Reanna Ali (From


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