With so many people involved in the field of professional dog training
today, trying to determine who's truly qualified can be a difficult
task. For those trying to decide on a professional dog trainer, the
American Dog Trainers Network offers the following criteria concerning
what to look for:
An excellent reputation. Shop around and get recommendations
from your vet, the ASPCA, the city's other humane societies, other
reputable trainers, or your breeder/breed club.
Widespread experience. Inquire about his or her training background,
years of experience, and areas of expertise. You deserve to have your
questions answered, so don't be timid about asking them. (Also, see
consumer warning at the bottom of this article.)
Humane training methodology and gentle, effective handling skills.
Reputable trainers are concerned about their dogs' welfare. They also
know that harsh or abusive handling methods are not only unnecessary,
but are often counter-productive as well.
A genuine love of and devotion to dogs. When you find a trainer
with this important quality you'll know it. The joy of living and
working with dogs makes this person shine.
Extensive behavioral knowledge. Dedicated trainers keep themselves
up-to-date by attending dog training and animal behavior courses,
conferences, seminars and workshops whenever possible.
Good teaching and communication skills. Trainers who have this
gift make the learning process quicker, easier and more enjoyable
for their students.
A sense of humor. Training can and should be fun for both dogs
and owners. A positive attitude and a little laughter goes a long
Affiliations with reputable associations, organizations and training
clubs. While this is not mandatory, it's certainly a plus.
Ethics before profit. Is monetary profit his or her primary
motive for training dogs? Is everything this trainer does geared towards
making money? While financial success is great, ethics must come first.
A NOTE OF WARNING: Unless a dog trainer comes highly recommended
to you by *at least* one reputable source, the bottom line for the consumer
is BUYER BEWARE!
Remember, absolutely anyone can call himself a dog trainer or behaviorist.
Slick ads with inflated claims, grandiose self-descriptions, and impressive
sounding titles can be very deceptive. Investigate any stated affiliations
a trainer lists on his or her brochure, Yellow Pages ad or web site.
If a trainer claims to be affiliated with an organization (past or present)
or claims to have "studied" with well-known dog trainers or
behaviorists, ask for their telephone numbers and contact them to be
sure. NOTE: A common ploy for some trainers, is to attend a couple one-or
two-day seminars or workshops with a well-known dog expert (or University),
then claim to have studied with that person (or at that institution).
Also, verify how many years the trainer you are considering has been
training dogs professionally. While years alone are not enough to determine
a trainer's experience level in and of itself, it's certainly says a
A FINAL NOTE: Beware of dog trainers who care more about publicity,
public relations, and celebrities, than they care about your dog and
the quality of training they provide. Many professional dog trainers
have worked with celebrities and high-profile people. But take note
if the trainer seems totally pre-occupied with dropping names, and bills
himself as the "Trainer To The Stars", something that says
little or nothing about his ability as a dog trainer.