Finding a good trainer can be like finding a good mechanic or good veterinarian. You want someone knowledgeable and experienced, but you also need someone you can communicate with. If you can’t see eye-to-eye, or don’t even like your trainer much, chances are you will not find success in training your pet with this person. Do your research.
Asking the Right Questions
As an organization concerned and committed to humane animal welfare, we recommend that you look for a trainer that uses positive reinforcement. This type of training uses mutual respect and a symbiotic relationship between people and their pets as a foundation, as well as many, many years of scientific study and research surrounding learning theory and how animals learn. Some of the specifics you should be looking for include:
- Trained / studied in the use of positive reinforcement
- Accredited by an organization, such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers
- Experience (2 to 3 years minimum)
- Get references from past clients
- Attend a class or training event where the trainer is working to get a preview
- Group classes that are not too large; attendance should not be more than a trainer and an assistant can handle
Take your time in choosing a trainer before you write a check. Make sure you’re comfortable with the class curriculum and the way it is presented before you make a commitment. Do your research early; your dog will benefit from receiving training before behavior problems begin to surface.
Avoiding the Pitfalls
Start your dog or puppy off on the right paw. Puppies begin to learn the moment they enter the world, and planning for early training and socialization is a great way to avoid problems. Plan on a puppy beginner class for your new puppy or a basic obedience class for your new adult dog. Waiting until behavior problems occur then trying to “fix it” will be harder than planning ahead and anticipating problems and how they can be avoided.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If the trainer you selected does not live up to your expectations, don’t be afraid to ask for a refund – and, more importantly, don’t give up on looking for a trainer that is the perfect fit for you and your pet. The effort will be well worth it!
Need help with training your new dog or puppy?
Private lessons and group classes are available, as well as convenient in-home sessions.
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