Anyone can open a business teaching dogs tricks and say they’re a trainer, so watch for faux teachers who use ineffective methods that could actually exacerbate behavioral issues.
To hire a trustworthy trainer, dig up each candidate's full background and keep these five tips in mind:
What does your dog need to learn?
Are you hiring a trainer to teach some new tricks or does your dog have obedience issues or extreme behaviors that need altering? Narrow down what you need from a trainer to help find the professional with the right background and skills to meet your furry family member’s needs.
Look for positive reinforcement
There’s no such thing as a “bad dog!” Be sure prospective trainers use positive reinforcement when training for good behavior.
Many dog trainers have found the positive approach more effective than using aggressive training techniques like shock collars. In the wrong hands, training that uses punishment can cause dogs to become more aggressive.
Certification and referrals matter
Certification isn't required to become a dog trainer, but wouldn’t you rather hire someone who’s had to study and pass certain requirements over someone without those qualifications?
Refine your choices by considering only certified candidates and then ask for referrals. Former clients who provide details on the methods a trainer uses will make it easier to find a trustworthy professional.
The more the merrier
Look for professionals who offer group classes so your dog can socialize with other canines and pet parents while he’s training. Sometimes a combination of one-on-one and group sessions gives your dog the best of both worlds.
It’s a family affair
Hire a trainer who lets your entire family get involved. Sometimes it’s the pet parents who need training more than their dogs because they may be unknowingly contributing to bad behaviors.
Unfortunately, just like children, dogs don’t come with a training manual. It’s worth the groundwork to find a professional trainer early on, ideally when your best pal is a pup so he can graduate into a well-behaved, smart dog.
Older dogs can benefit from training, too, especially when they come with some unresolved behavioral baggage. After all, it’s never too late to teach…you know the rest.