Kellyann Conway, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant
Finding a professional dog trainer may take a bit of research, but making the right choice will be worth the time. Here are some guidelines to help you find a good trainer.
Ask the trainer if you may observe a class. While you are there, look for a few things:
Are the dogs happy?
The dogs should look as if they are enjoying the class. Remember: Training should be fun.
Are the people enjoying themselves?
Look for a class that encourages all family members to attend and participate.
Is there a good ratio of people to dogs?
Most classes should have about one trainer to six dogs.
Is the location secure, clean and sanitary?
Gates and doors should be latched and closed. The floors should be free of debris, and supplies should be provided for clean-up.
What kind of tools are being used?
Good tools to look for include leashes, flat collars, head halters, bite-sized treats, toys, harnesses and lots of praise. Tools you don’t want to see include electronic collars, prong collars, choke collars and flexi-leads.
The trainer should never use physical punishment.
Training should never include hitting, kicking, jerking and popping the leash, stringing the dog up or hanging the dog.
Ask the trainer what educational organizations he or she belongs to. Organizations such as the APDT, IAABC, NADOI and the CCPDT strongly encourage or even require continuing education for their trainers, so trainers who belong are more likely to be keeping up on their skills and knowledge.
A good trainer will also ensure that your pet’s health is protected. He or she should require a health certificate or proof of vaccinations prior to the start of any class.
If you’ve done your research and you aren’t able to find a trainer who meets your standards nearby, don’t worry there’s always home school, and the Internet is ready to help you out. Check out the videos on Petfinder for some educational and entertaining training information that will take you through many facets of dog behavior and training.
You’ll find information on chewing, crate training, jumping, basic manners and more. We have tips on how to travel with your best friend, how to bathe your dog and step-by-step instructions for teaching tricks, too.
In the end, it’s simple: By training your dog, you won’t have to worry about what he destroyed while you were at work. You can have company over without having to strategize about what to do with your dog once they arrive. In short, a calm, well- behaved dog is a pleasure to have as a family member. So take some time to train your best friend because you love your dog.