Finding a dog trainer might seem, at first sight, as simple as doing a quick online search to locate the nearest one to you. The reality of finding a dog trainer is rather more involved than that. Not all dog trainers are created equal. The right dog trainer can help you through any sticky patches with your dog and, at the same time, show you how to improve your bond and live your best life together. The wrong dog trainer can completely sabotage that bond and cause more problems than they solve. The wrong dog trainer can cause the most well intentioned guardians to make life very unpleasant for their dog.
How can we be sure when setting out on finding a dog trainer that we find the right trainer?
Word of mouth is always a good way if possible. Ask anyone you may know that has a dog, particularly if that person and their dog appear happy together, if they have engaged a dog trainer that they would recommend. Personal experience of how a trainer works, the methods that they use and, in particular, what they suggest doing if things are not going to plan, are all invaluable in discovering if they are the right trainer for you and your dog.
When finding a dog trainer, have a good look at their website and any social media pages that they have. A good dog trainer is one who works using kind and ethical methods centred on valid communication that goes in both directions between dog and human. These trainers will often be happy to promote openly the methods that they use. Any trainer that seems vague in mentioning their methods requires at the very least further investigation as to how they treat or advise clients to treat the dogs under their care. Any trainer that talks about a need to be ‘alpha’ or a pack leader, or the need to use ‘corrections’ should be dismissed as a possibility. These are all term associated with outdated and unkind methods that have a strong chance of damaging rather than increasing the bond between dog and guardian.
Once you have identified some trainers who appear as if they may be a good fit, contact them and ask questions. Good trainers know that this is a vital part of finding a dog trainer. Ask more about the methods that they use. Ask particularly what happens if a dog that they are training ‘gets it wrong’. A bad trainer may talk about corrections or punishment. A good trainer will change the question. A good trainer will talk about setting the dog up to succeed.
Finding a dog trainer may not be as simple as an internet search, but it is worth spending time on. Consider finding a dog trainer as an investment of time made in your relationship with your dog.