How Do You Choose A Dog Trainer?

by Mary Haight on August 7, 2009

Silky Terrier
Image via Wikipedia

A friend is currently fostering an abused dog that was brought to the shelter, a Silky Terrier who was caged for 18 hours a day for nearly all of his two-year life.  Naturally there have been many discussions about professional training, what habits can be changed, which may always be an issue and what this means for the dog’s future.  The constant thread that  is part of these conversations is how do you choose a trainer for the dog, the right trainer with the right combination and range of skillsets.  And that’s an issue for the families who adopt happy-go- lucky dogs, too. 

Talk to any two trainers and they will tell you the other guy is mistaken in their approach. so below is a short version checklist by Martin Deeley and Karen Palmer from Canine Professionals to help you out in the near term. 

1. Ask your veterinarian for referrals. Vets see many well-behaved dogs often. Ask owners of well-mannered dogs where they received their training.

2. Training methods vary among the professional training community. Call or visit your local trainers, ask them about their training theory, tools, and methods to help determine which would work best for you. Keep in mind that many trainers have flexible programs which can be tailored to your needs. Others have specific areas which they specialize in. Speaking with them can help you decide which methods 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.

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.  Don’t be pushed into making a decision. If you are hesitating, there’s  reason.

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