When it comes to choosing a dog trainer, there are so many different options to choose from. It can definitely be an overwhelming process. We have all heard the horror stories of how some training kennels treat animals. Our dogs are a part of our families and we want them to be treated fairly during the process. Additionally, this is a long term investment. When it comes to making a financial decision we also want to make sure that we are receiving a quality service. So, how can you make sure that you are choosing an ethical and quality dog trainer? Start with these 5 Steps:
1. Do Your Research
There is a ton of free information on the internet that can help you have a better understanding of the different methods of dog training. Most of which are safe and ethical, but often have different approaches and timelines to reaching goals. Start out by looking at the differences between positive only and balanced trainers. Using this information, create a list of trainers in your area that use different methods.
2. Give Them A Call
Given that we are in the digital age, it is so simple to fill out an online questionnaire or contact form to receive more information about training. Before you know it, you have made a deposit and booked a training slot before ever hearing their voice! By taking the time to call the trainer and talk with them about their program, you will be able to get a feel for their personality. When choosing a professional to work with long term, you need to feel comfortable talking with this person. If they make you nervous or weary, back away now.
3. Ask About their Resume & Toolbox
Due to the unregulated nature of the canine training industry, trainers resume’s vary greatly. Most of the recognized certification associations are for “Positive Only” obedience trainers, which leaves gun dog trainers and balanced trainers with limited options for certifications. That being said, it does not take away from their credibility. There are plenty of apprenticeship and clinic opportunities that allow trainers to continue their education and improve their abilities. Most trainers have a variety of beneficial tools that they use to help create and shape canine behaviors. Talk to them about the various different tools that they use and do not hesitate to ask WHY! A capable and ethical trainer will be glad to talk to you about how the tools function and their reasons for using them.
4. Schedule a Meeting at the Facility before Booking
This tip is to help ease your mind about the process. You can meet with the trainer and discuss the process in more detail. Some trainers even offer to work with your dog for a short period for you to see their approach. If the trainer you are considering working with is not welcome to having you on site, throw up a red flag! That being said, sometimes it can be difficult to arrange a visit like this due to travel and scheduling limitations, if that is the case for you - request a virtual visit!
*Special Note: Many trainers and kennels have specific boundaries put in place to protect both humans and animals. For example, we do not allow guests to walk down our kennel aisle as a safety precaution - that being said. you are able to see all of our dogs from the outside and we will gladly answer any questions that you may have.
5. Trust Your Gut - Ask for References
If you have completed the first 4 steps of this guide, then you should have a pretty clear understanding of the trainers that you are considering. If any of them threw up red flags, scratch them off your list! If you have come to a tie breaker, ask for references. Public reviews are not always a true representation of a business, but references from other industry professionals, such as veterinarians, should be able to sew up your final decision.
Making the investment of training your dog is not a process that you should have any remorse or regret about. By taking a respectful and proactive approach to your decision making process, you can ensure that the choice you make is one you will certainly be happy about. We hope that this 5 Step Guide can help you choose a trainer that will not only make you feel at ease, but help you improve your relationship with your dog!