Top 3 Tips on Choosing a Trainer
Whether you’ve just brought home a new puppy or are realizing you need help training your adult dog, knowing what types of trainers are accessible to you is essential for every dog owner. Our Top 3 tips on choosing a trainer help you understand what qualifications you should look for in a trainer and what services are available to you. Keep reading to learn what you need to know to choose a trainer that is best fit to meet your dog’s current training needs.
Tip 1: Check for Certifications & Affiliations
Look for a dog trainer that has certifications through a reputable school or counsel. Unfortunately, the dog training industry is not a regulated industry. There are many individuals claiming to be professionals that don’t have the necessary education, experience, or qualifications to train your dog safely and effectively. To avoid getting your dog and yourself into a bad situation, we recommend checking your trainer's certifications and affiliations before committing to a training program or class.
The affiliations a trainer lists on their website may give you insights into their training philosophy and provide reassurance that they are a professional in the industry. The following affiliations and certifications are well known and respected by professional dog trainers around the world:
- The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT)
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT)
- Pet Professional Guild (PPG)
- Karen Prior Academy (KPA)
- Victoria Stilwell Academy (VSA)
- Animal Behavior College (ABC)
- CATCH Trainers academy (CATCH)
Tip 2: Know the Type of Trainer You Need
The term “dog training” covers a myriad of different doggy related issues to be trained through; from potty training your new poodle puppy to working with a dog with a bite history! Check out the list below where we broke down the different types of trainers, their qualifications, and typical services.
Basic Dog Trainers
These trainers work with dogs that need basic obedience skills, such as sit, stay and down. They can help you through the ups and downs of puppyhood or help an adult dog develop better manners in the house. These trainers have the ability to meet your everyday dog training needs. Their competency may even extend to teaching advanced tricks or dog sports, like agility or rally! However, these trainers are not always qualified to take on more severe behavior cases.
Behavior trainers or consultants
These are dog trainers that specialize in behavior work or have a behavior certification, these trainers have taken numerous continuing education courses to learn how to handle and train a dog with behavioral issues. These trainers have accumulated the necessary knowledge and years of experience to safely help you and your dog navigate a behavior issue. A trainer that specializes in behavior training works with owners struggling to train through a variety of issues, such as reactivity, mild separation anxiety, or handling inter- household fighting. These trainers often work in conjunction with a Veterinary Behaviorist for severe behavior cases.
This is a licensed veterinarian that specializes in behavior. When a dog has plateaued in its training working with another trainer or a dog presents behaviors that are too severe for a trainer to address, a veterinary behaviorist can provide vital support. These professionals have the competency to assess your dog's behavior problems, any underlying medical condition that is exacerbating the behavior issues, and how to help. A treatment plan from a Veterinary Behaviorist may include a prescription in addition to training techniques for behavior modification.
Most often clients are referred to these specialists by their normal veterinarian or by another dog trainer. While few Veterinary Behaviorists are available, many work virtually to reach clients with dogs outside their immediate service area.
Tip 3: Know the Pros and Cons of Training Services
Know what type of training services a prospective trainer offers and what benefits there are for your dog. You may find yourself having the option to choose between private lessons with your trainer in your own home or sending your pup off for a two-week board and train. Not every training situation is ideal for addressing the specific issues you’re working through with your dog. The list below provides a comprehensive overview of the different types of training services available.
Training done at your home can be done virtually with a trainer or the trainer comes to you! In-Home Training provides the benefits of more flexibility to fit training into your schedule and a trainer can help you work on specific training issues that occur at home. Learning at home can be very effective since your dog will be comfortable and less distracted. Private in-home training also provides a wealth of knowledge for owners since they are getting individualized attention from their trainers.
Meeting with your trainer for private lessons can provide you with quality training time tailored to your dog’s needs. You may meet your trainer at a dog training facility to work on their behavior skills or meet your trainer at a separate location, like a park or downtown. Just like in-home lessons, private lessons with your trainer will provide you as the owner with a wealth of knowledge and individual attention for your dog. The added benefit of private lessons outside your home is the ability to train through distractions found in different environments. This type of targeted training can help your dog more quickly generalize their behaviors to different situations.
Training in a group can be an affordable and beneficial training service for you and your dog. While you’ll be following a class curriculum, rather than receiving individualized training, your dog will have the opportunity to learn to respond to your cues in a distracting and ever-changing environment. You’ll learn from watching other owners and seeing how your trainer helps them through various training roadblocks. The number of dogs and trainers in each class depends on the type of class and training challenge(s) it is intended to address.
Board & Train
Sending your dog to live with your trainer for a set period of time can boost your dog’s training skills. This gives your trainer the opportunity to train multiple times per day, help establish a training routine for your dog and teach new skills. The challenge of the board and train for most owners is that upon returning home, you’ll need to keep up with training and allow your dog time to transition their new skills from one home to the next. Quality board and train programs should offer extensive follow-up and private lessons with the owner to help maintain the training program. With a board and train, it is vital to ensure your trainer is not only qualified but has the appropriate licenses and insurance to board dogs.
This information empowers owners to invest in a trainer that has the skills and services best suited to meet their dog’s training needs. Taking the time to research your trainer and understand the services they provide before signing up for a class or lesson can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. If you’re still unsure about what type of trainer or training you need, reach out for a consultation with your prospective trainer before beginning and don't be afraid to ask questions.