You did your homework to find the perfect dog for your family but, as adorable as he is, you have some questions about how to handle his behaviour in certain situations. So what should you do next? Perhaps it’s time to consult a professional trainer for advice.
Unfortunately, not all dog trainers are created equal. There are different methods and philosophies so, as with most things, it’s up to you to find a trainer that you are comfortable with and that you trust to help you meet the goals you have for your new family member.
You can start by asking family and friends for referrals if they have taken obedience classes before and were happy with their results. Or check with your vet, local pet food store or boarding kennel. It’s common for local trainers to leave their business cards and/or brochures with these businesses when they are looking for referrals.
It’s a good idea to talk to 3 or 4 trainers before making a decision since cost should not be your only consideration. Below is a list of suggestions as to what you should be looking for:
How long has the individual been working as a trainer and where did they learn their profession? Most trainers will take an apprenticeship or mentoring program with an experienced trainer for a period of time before starting their own business. While certain courses relating to animal behaviour can be taken on the internet, it’s important to have ‘hands on’ experience when it comes to working with dogs.
What is their method or training philosophy? There are different methods of obedience training including positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement or a combination of both positive and negative. Also, what type of training equipment do they prefer to use, i.e. training collars, harnesses, etc.
What breeds have they worked with and what types of issues have they dealt with like aggression or separation anxiety and does that include puppies, adult and rescue dogs?
Do they offer group as well as private training and can you watch one of their group classes before you register with them?
How many classes do they offer? Most trainers offer classes in 6, 8 or 10 week sessions and what is their policy if you have to miss a class?
Are other family members encouraged to attend the classes so that your dog’s training is consistent?
Do they have a website with information and photos of their classes?
Are they able to give references from previous clients that you can contact for their comments about their training experience?
We hope you find these suggestions useful in your search for a dog trainer. Taking obedience classes with your dog should be fun as well as educational for you and your family. Take your time and find the right trainer for you and your dog and, once you choose that trainer, practice, be patient and consistent. Remember, when you take obedience classes, it’s YOU that determines how well your dog does since a dog is only as good as its handler.