Are you considering hiring a dog trainer? Choosing a trainer for your very best furry companion can be a challenge! How do you know you’re choosing the right person for the job? Here are 5 simple questions to ask your candidates BEFORE ever letting them touch your dog to make sure they are the right choice.
A certification provides you with the peace of mind that you need to trust a person who will be modifying significant behaviors in your pet. A certification from an accredited organization demonstrates a thorough understanding of canine behavior and the most humane training methods to achieve change. If you wanted someone who has a TikTok or YouTube education to train your pet, you could do it yourself for free! The average pet owner does not have the knowledge or ability to judge whether the average dog trainer is actually competent because they also do not fully understand behavior. A certification will let you know exactly what that person is capable of. Don’t be shy to ask other certified professionals in the area who they recommend and who to avoid.
If you want to search for accredited dog trainer certification programs, just click this link to see a number of results pointing you towards accredited certification programs:
Having an education is critical to true behavioral understanding, and having experience backed by that education is even better! Learning about behavior is one thing, but appropriately putting that education into practice is another. You want your dog trainer to have both education and experience. Experiences led by a seasoned professional will provide your trainer with the practical exercises they need to effectively utilize the knowledge they gained from a formal education.
Be sure your trainer is abreast of the most recent studies and methods of training. Over time, dog training has changed significantly (for the better), as we have had time to perform scientific research and studies on the short and long-term effects of different training techniques. If your trainer is still engaging in older techniques proven to cause harm (alpha theory, dominance training, or other abusive techniques), it implies a lock of understanding and unwillingness to follow newer and better evidenced techniques. Find someone who can get results humanely, and without behavioral backlash or cruel training methods. Find a trainer who utilizes the Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive methods (LIMA). Learn more about LIMA here on the IIABC website. Many accredited dog trainer certification programs also have CE courses for trainers to take.
This question can cover a variety of concerns. If you are considering boarding your dog with a trainer, ALWAYS see the facility with your own eyes before agreeing to leave your dog. Things to look for are: fire suppression systems, alarm systems, cleanliness, the emotional state of dogs who are already there, and HVAC. Security and safety systems are required for kennel facilities, and you should be concerned if there are none. The kennel should not smell dirty, nor should it smell heavily of cleaners (fumes can be dangerous to dogs, and heavy smells of bleach can mask other scents). Ask what cleaners they use and be sure that they are made for disinfecting animal disease to prevent disease transmission. If the other dogs there appear stressed, chances are your dog will too. Don’t leave them somewhere they will be living in stress. If the kennel isn’t temperature controlled, that trainer does not have your dog’s health in mind! At the time of writing this article, a large fire at Ponderosa Pet Resort in Texas, which did not have fire suppression systems or alarms of any kind, resulted in the deaths of around 75 pets, a tragedy that could have been prevented.
Not all trainers are created equal. Avoid trainers who engage in the following behaviors, and do not be shy about sharing your experience when you encounter them: