What to Ask Before Hiring a Dog Trainer

By BobJ Feb15,2024
Photo by Jamie Street

If you have a dog, chances are you will need some professional help at some point to teach your furry friend the skills and manners that will make your life easier and happier. But how do you find and choose a dog trainer who is right for you and your pup? Here are some tips and questions to ask before you hire a dog trainer.

**What are their methods and philosophy?**

The first thing you want to know is what kind of training methods and philosophy the trainer uses. Ideally, you want to find a trainer who uses positive reinforcement training, which means rewarding the dog for appropriate behavior and teaching alternative behaviors in place of inappropriate ones. Positive reinforcement training is based on the science of animal learning and has the bonus of strengthening the bond between you and your dog and fostering a love of learning in your dog.

Avoid trainers who use aversive methods, such as choke chains, prong collars, shock collars, alpha rolls, or physical corrections. These methods can cause fear, anxiety, pain, and aggression in dogs, and can damage your relationship with your dog. They are also outdated and unnecessary, as there are more humane and effective ways to train dogs.

**What are their credentials and experience?**

Dog training is an unregulated industry, which means anyone can call themselves a dog trainer without any formal education or certification. That’s why it’s important to ask about the trainer’s credentials and experience. Some trainers have learned through apprenticeships and years of practice, while others have taken courses or obtained certifications from reputable organizations.

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Some examples of independent certifications are:

– CPDT-KA or CPDT-KSA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed or Knowledge and Skills Assessed) from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers
– KPA-CTP (Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner) from the Karen Pryor Academy
– CDBC (Certified Dog Behavior Consultant) from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

These certifications require the trainer to pass exams, demonstrate skills, have a minimum amount of experience, and complete continuing education to stay updated on the latest research and techniques.

**What are their services and rates?**

Another thing you want to know is what kind of services and rates the trainer offers. Depending on your needs and goals, you may want to enroll in a group class, book a private session, or sign up for a package or program. Some trainers offer services at their own facility, while others may come to your home or meet you at a public place. Some trainers specialize in certain areas, such as puppy training, behavior modification, agility, or service dog training.

Ask the trainer what they charge for their services and what is included in the price. For example, how long is each session or class? How many sessions or classes are in a package or program? What materials or equipment are provided or required? What is their cancellation policy? What kind of support or follow-up do they offer?

**What are their references and reviews?**

A good way to evaluate a potential trainer is to ask for references and reviews from previous or current clients. You can also check their website, social media pages, or online platforms like Yelp or Google for testimonials and ratings. Look for reviews that mention the trainer’s professionalism, knowledge, skills, results, and rapport with dogs and owners.

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You can also ask the trainer if you can observe one of their classes or sessions before you sign up. This will give you a chance to see how they interact with dogs and owners, how they teach and explain concepts, how they handle challenges or questions, and how they manage the group or individual dynamics.

**What are your expectations and responsibilities?**

Finally, before you hire a dog trainer, you should have a clear idea of what your expectations and responsibilities are. A good trainer will not only teach your dog, but also teach you how to teach your dog. They will also provide you with a clear framework of what a fulfilled life looks like for your dog based on your lifestyle and routines.

You should expect the trainer to be respectful, patient, supportive, and honest with you and your dog. You should also expect them to use humane and effective methods that are tailored to your dog’s needs and personality.

However, you should also be prepared to do your part as the owner. You should be committed to attending the classes or sessions regularly, practicing the skills at home consistently, following the trainer’s instructions and advice faithfully, and communicating any issues or concerns promptly.

Remember that hiring a dog trainer is an investment in your dog’s wellbeing and happiness, as well as your own. By asking these questions before you hire a dog trainer, you can ensure that you find the best match for you and your pup.

Sources:

– https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/finding-choosing-a-dog-trainer/
– https://www.rover.com/blog/finding-the-right-dog-trainer/
– https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/find-dog-training-class/
– https://www.petcoach.co/article/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/
– https://dogtime.com/dog-health/dog-behavior/750-choosing-a-dog-trainer-hsus

By BobJ

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