What should you look for in a dog trainer?
This is a post that we have been wanting to get out into the big wide world for a while. How to pick your dog trainer!
For us, at All Day Dog Adventures, this is a passionate subject and something we feel strongly about. We care about every one of the people and dogs we train with. This post is meant to make you think about who you are choosing to train your dog/s and to give you the confidence to ask your future Dog Trainer lots of important questions.
This blog gives you useful information to make informed decisions when it comes to picking your dog trainer. We hope you find it helpful and informative.
Here is an interesting fact….
Did you know that in the US (and a larger number of other countries) the Dog Training Industry is unregulated?
Basically, it means that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, print some business cards and start training dogs the next day regardless of whether they have the necessary experience, knowledge or education.
This is worrisome for you and your dogs relationship. A trainer that hasn’t been educated and/or kept up to date with science-based approaches could cause more harm than good.
As a dog owner you are your dogs biggest advocate, it is important that you do your research when looking for a dog trainer. With so many dog trainers out there, it is easy to not know what to look for or what questions to ask your potential trainer. This blog is not meant to be judgmental, it is meant to give you the confidence and knowledge to ask those important questions.
Your dogs well-being
Choosing your Dog Trainer will have a direct impact on the well-being of your relationship with your dog and how your dog sees you. It will have a long lasting, hopefully positive impact. Knowing what you are looking for in a trainer and doing your research before committing to your dog trainer is an important first step.
We feel strongly that using a dog trainer that uses positive, science-based training methods is best for you and your dog If you are one of our clients, then you already know that this is how we train.
All dogs are unique
Though we are flexible in our training approach, recognizing that all dogs and their owners are unique, we will always use positive, reward-based techniques. We never compromise on our ethics and therefore will always train in a force free (no fear) & reward-based manner. This is non-negotiable and we will always abide by the Code of Conduct of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers
We train dogs in a humane and ethical manner- there is no need for punishment-based training methods.
What to look for in a Dog Trainer?
When looking for a Dog Trainer there are some questions you should ask your potential trainer.
You should be looking for a qualified, reputable, ethical and humane Dog Trainer. You are entrusting your dog training journey to someone so make it a good, well-informed choice and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. A good trainer is willing to spend the time to answer your questions clearly and openly and discuss their training methods with you before you even sign up for a class.
There are many things to consider when picking your Dog Trainer and here is a guide to help you.
As a dog owner please ask about your prospective Dog Trainers education and qualifications.
- What education has your prospective trainer undertaken?
- What qualifications do they have and from which Institutes? Look into the Institutes, check their code of conduct and which training methods they recommend
- What continuing education and professional development they do every year?
As modern dog training is based on a science approach and it is continually changing, every competent Trainer must have a solid understanding of the science behind the training and continue to develop that knowledge. A good Dog Trainer will keep up to date on new theories and developments. A science-based Dog Trainer has probably spent thousands of dollars on their education and is always open and transparent about their training methods.
Another worrisome fact is many Dog Trainer Associations can be joined easily and require little to no assessment or accountability of training methods. We therefore recommend you research which training associations your potential Trainer is a Member of, below is a list of the ones we trust.
There are great Associations out there that hold their Members accountable and continually assess their Professional Development and Training Methods. When it comes to Memberships there is no need for your dog trainer to be a Member of every Association that is out there- it is better to be part of the right ones! Quality over quantity is important!
Here is a helpful list of Associations that promote and support the use of force free training:
The IMDT- Institute of Modern Dog Trainers
KPA- Karen Pryor Academy
These associations have extremely strict ethical standards and require all Members to be assessed before joining.
Ask whether your Trainer is insured- this is so important and there are too many Trainers out there that are not insured.
What ethical views does your prospective Trainer have? Speak to the Trainer, ask questions, read their blogs, check out their Business social media posts, look at their website.
Look for key words such as:
- Positive reward-based training
- Science-based dog training
- Reward training
- Force/fear free training
Does our Trainer promote the use of flat collars and harnesses, long lines, toys and use food for rewards & marker words? These kind of trainers normally indicate a science, force free, reward based training approach, in an ethical and caring/kind way.
Avoid Trainers who use key words such as:
- Dominance based training
- Pack Leader
- Prong collars/check collars
- Electric Shock collars or e-collars
- Balanced Training
- Leader of the Pack
- Balanced Trainer
Trainers who use these terms normally use punishment-based training styles.
Your prospective Trainer should be open about the training methods they use and should be happy to discuss this with you. Your potential Trainer should be clear and upfront about their methods:
- Is your potential Trainer open about any challenges they have experienced and how to overcome them?
- Are they open about the amount of time commitment training can take or do they offer a quick fix? Promised quick fixes are rarely result in lasting results! One must wonder how these quick fixes are achieved and what impact this has on the well being of your dog.
Watch out for….
If your prospective Trainer uses tools such as choke chains, electric shock collars, prong collars, water sprays, rattle cans then they are NOT force free Dog Trainers.
Ask your prospective Trainer why they feel the need to use these tools?
These are outdated techniques that can harm not only your dogs outcome but your dogs trust in you. A skilled Dog Trainer is confident in their ability and doesn’t need to resort to using these tools.
Language- Using words such as alpha, balanced, pack theory is a strong indicator that the Trainer is likely to use punishment-based methods.
We highly suggest speaking to the Trainer to get a feel for their personality and their training methods. You need to feel comfortable with the prospective Trainer, you will be working closely together as a team.
Any Trainer should be approachable, kind, caring, sympathetic, patient and should be able to explain things to you without using complex jargon! It is great to check references/review from former students and the Trainer should be happy to provide these to you too. Most of all, training should be FUN for you and your dog, getting you to work together as a cohesive team.
When you ask someone for recommendations for a dog trainer ask them if they know the training methods the trainer uses.
Your Trainer should be able to explain Dog Body Language and Behavior, providing more than just basic training advice. This is where you will truly see which Trainers have undertaken courses and continue their Professional Development.
Choosing the right Trainer for YOU & YOUR dog is a big decision and it shouldn’t be taken lightly or without proper research. Incorrect training or bad experiences can have a lifelong impact on your dog and the relationship you have with your dog.
We hope you found this blog useful and informative!
The Team at All Day Dog Adventures are open and honest about our Training Methods. We use a science-based training approach using positive training methods. We do not believe in the Alpha Dog Theory or Dominance Punishment based training.
We work together with you and your dog to create a long lasting partnership!