22 Mar How to Choose the Right Dog Trainer
From teaching your dog basic obedience to advanced training for dog sports or protection, a great dog trainer can make all the difference. That’s particularly true for new dog owners. But even if you have years of experience with canine companions, a professional trainer can help you troubleshoot problems and hone your abilities. Plus, group classes have the wonderful benefit of socializing your pup. But how do you know when you’ve found the right dog trainer?
Dog training is an unregulated industry. Anybody can print business cards and charge for their services, regardless of background, education, or experience. It’s essential to evaluate potential trainers before trusting them with your hard-earned money and your precious pet. Don’t simply pick the closest training school. Do your research to determine if a potential trainer is the right fit for you and your dog.
First, ask the trainer about their methods and training philosophy, and make sure you’re comfortable with that approach. Look for a trainer who uses positive reinforcement training — rewarding the dog for appropriate behavior and teaching alternative behaviors in place of inappropriate ones. These techniques are based on the science of animal learning and have the bonus of strengthening the dog-owner bond and fostering a love of learning in dogs.
It’s also important to determine what you need from a trainer. Are you dealing with problem behavior like jumping on guests or does your new puppy need to learn to “sit” and “stay”? Find out if a particular trainer provides classes or private training that meet your needs. Not all trainers offer the same services. Usually, a class environment with other dogs provides the added benefit of socialization and distraction training. But sometimes, your dog will learn best in a one-on-one situation, especially if other dogs overstimulate him or make him anxious.
Private training can be done at the training school, in your home, or out in the world. For certain issues, this can be ideal. Some dogs simply aren’t ready for a classroom, or perhaps your dog’s problem only happens at your front door. However, not all trainers offer services outside their own facility, and you can expect to pay more for someone to come to you.
Ask a potential trainer about their education and any credentials they may have. Some wonderful trainers have learned through apprenticeships and years of experience, whereas others have taken a more academic route in building their skills. Certification with an organization like the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers is not mandatory for trainers, but it shows dedication to the profession and an interest in continuing education.
Speak with the trainer to get a feel for their personality and people skills before making a decision. It’s not enough to read the brochure or website. In truth, dog trainers teach people, so you need to feel comfortable being their student. Look for someone who uses the same positive reinforcement with her human pupils that they use with the dogs. They should be patient, encouraging, and respectful. Try to observe a training class, and watch the dogs and students as much as the trainer to ensure they are all enjoying themselves. In addition, check out reviews from former students.
Look for a trainer who provides more than just the basic training techniques. Dogs and humans have different ways of looking at the world, and the more you understand your dog’s perceptions, the better equipped you are to meet his needs and live together happily. Training lessons should include information about dog behavior, dog communication, and how dogs learn. The importance of socializing is key for a good puppy class, and advice on grooming and handling is an added perk.
Great trainers understand that their job is to train you to train your dog. Although they may want to work with one adult at a time depending on a dog’s issues, at some point in the process, they should welcome the entire household — kids included. First-rate trainers understand the importance of getting the whole family on board for consistency.
If you’re looking for a great trainer in the San Antonio or Austin area, consider the professional team at Patriot Dog Training. We specialize in helping train dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds and experience levels. Contact our team today or give us a call at (830) 229-7141 to learn more about how we can help your dog and to pick the right dog training program for you and your family.