Help, I need a dog trainer!

Congratulations! You have decided to train your dog.  But you are puzzled by the amount of choices and the differences each website portrays about each canine trainer. This particular blog entry is being written to help you decipher the professionalism you are looking for.

Each website has a plethora of information which is helpful but can become washed out. 

Make a list of what goals you have in mind for you and your dog.  Then as you are browsing each website, narrow them down by the sites that are able to answer most of your questions and keep your goals in mind. 

Get your dog an evaluation.  If the trainer does not offer evaluations then move on.  Some trainers are beginning to charge for their evaluations; this fee is typically taken off of your package price if you sign up and pay in full.  Keep in mind that you are hiring someone who is paid for their time and there are no industry standards or guidelines as to what each trainer can charge for their hourly rate.  In the end, you are paying for their expertise whatever that may be.

You watch the dog training shows, and you’ve read the books, maybe you’ve even taken a webinar and you’re ready to train your dog yourself.  That’s great.  One thing all of those resources fail to tell you is that undertaking the training solely on your own requires a large amount of your time being spent doing nothing but training. Training requires consistency and repetition. I have found my training to be the most successful by following a training formula for 21 straight days.  I start with puppy basic obedience then I move up to basic obedience, take into consideration that during adolescence my dog is not going to learn as quickly as he did while he was a puppy.  The resources I listed above do not teach you how to understand dog learning theory or behavior.  Some trainers possess this knowledge but not all trainers.

Your dog will go through specific learning stages and it is imperative that during each stage you expose your dog appropriately to socialization with people, dogs, and other animals as well as inanimate objects. If you have decided on a puppy it’s a bit easier than if you have rescued an older dog.  

Let’s say you adopted a six month old dog he is still young and impressionable.  Well not really, he’s had six months to learn a lot of bad habits regarding behavior. His social development has been damaged and you discover that you’re having trouble getting him to listen to commands.  This is not just because you rescued a six month old dog, this is also because you have adopted an adolescent dog.

As a trainer I always recommend to my clients who have rescued or adopted a dog of any age to seek out a professional trainer or even a canine behaviorist.  I want to see the relationship develop and to see the dog become healthy socially and mentally.

Even if you decide to do the training on your own it is still worth getting an evaluation for yourself and your dog, even if the trainer charges for that evaluation it will be a worthwhile investment.  You will get to hear a professional’s opinion regarding your dog and you may receive their training plan which can help you whether you train on your own or make the better choice and hire the trainer to assist you along the way.

Canine training is fast becoming a new recognized certification/vocational job in the United States.  As of today there are no formal guidelines nor is there any formal licensing to become a dog trainer.  We have general standards that we follow and associations that we belong to in order to continue our education.

As you are browsing the websites and you have narrowed it down to two or three prospective trainers take the time to write down some questions to ask them during your evaluation.  Here is a list of questions that should be asked;

  1. How long have you been training?
  2. What methodology do you use in your training style?
  3. What training do you specialize in?

Additional questions will arise during the evaluation and possibly from the trainer’s website.  Remember that there are dozens of trainers available to you from many different training styles. Be informed, if the web searches confuse you, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on a trainer(s).