How to Choose a Dog Trainer
Written by: Kassie Dickson CDBC, CPDT-KA
How To Find A Dog Trainer
Choosing a trainer can be one of the most important things you do with your dog!
You should interview your trainer and ensure you align with their methods and feel comfortable with that trainer. Not only that, you should have a good relationship with them! If you meet your trainer and they just aren’t someone who makes you feel respected, or there’s something “not right”, go with your gut! It’s important that you, your family, and your dog all like your trainer!
What questions should I ask my dog trainer?
We’re going to make this super easy!
What methods do you use to train?
- There are different types of dog trainers and different types of dog training methods. Trainers should be upfront and honest about their methods, typically if it’s not clear through their webpage or social media, avoid them!
- Trainers should be using the most up to date and scientifically proven methods. Although science is ever changing and can become outdated, it’s a trainer’s job to improve their methodology as knowledge on dog training evolves.
- Trainers should use appropriate language but also help you understand what some “trainer jargon” means
- Avoid trainers who use the word “dominant” when describing a dog's personality or a characteristic, this is a big dog trainer red flag! If a trainer uses the word regularly or without explanation, they probably lack knowledge and understanding and definitely are not up to date!
What tools do you typically use in training?
- Again you want transparency!
- Appropriate tools for basic training include leashes, collars, harnesses, a clicker, and muzzles. Outside of these “tools”, there aren’t many others that are typically appropriate for basic training with your pup. If you’re dealing with behaviour problems as well, these are the primary tools of a trainer you want to work with!
What education and experience do you have?
- It’s great if a dog trainer has completed a dog training education however, that's not always accessible. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad trainer, however you should look for continuing education as well as experience and certification combined. It’s also important to note that just because a trainer has an education doesn’t mean they follow guidelines or principles they were taught.
Look for these schools, to name a few:
- Karen Pryor Academy
- Northwest School of Canine Studies
- Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior
- Academy for Dog Trainers
- Companion Animal Sciences Institute
- CATCH Canine Trainers Academy
- Experience matters too; find out where and how long a trainer has been working professionally; did they study under someone or have they been teaching at a specific dog training school for some time?
What certifications should I look for in a dog trainer?
- You can find certifications from all the above schools but, also, look for a trainer from the following certifying bodies and organizations;
- CCPDT - Certification council for Professional Dog Trainers
- IAABC- International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants
- The Ethology Institute
You can also look for membership to the following:
- PPG- Pet Professionals Guild
- APDT- Association Of Professional Dog Trainers
How long does it take to train a dog?
That’s a great question. The answer: you should never stop training your dog, active training to have a polite member of your family can happen rather quickly or can take a bit longer, but you should always be working with your dog to improve your welfare and theirs! Depending on the type of training you do and your individual dog you’re going to be training for the first year to couple first years of their life, sometimes more.
Are dog trainers worth it?
100%, a dog trainer will be the best decision you make with your dog! Not only can a dog trainer help you to better understand your dog and their behaviours and “language”, they can also help you to live a much less stressful existence from lack of knowledge. They help your pup to be their best selves not only by guiding you to what works best for your dog but also what works best for your family, because the health and wellbeing of you and your pup doesn’t stop at the vet's office!
Can I train my dog myself?
Absolutely and you should be, your dog trainer is there to help teach YOU how to train your dog and to help you appropriately handle them in public as well as at home. Even more so to help you manage expectations and environments. Plus, they will help you weed through inappropriate information, outdated methods, and ultimately live a better life with your new companion!
For more help with training, grab a dog box made for your pup - filled with treats, chews, and training guides!
Ready for more training tips? Read How to Positively Train Your Dog and Puppy Training 101.