First, what do you want your dog to learn?
Does your dog have behavior issues such as anxiety, fear, or aggression? Then basic obedience will not be enough. Some dog trainers only teach obedience, others only offer rehabilitation or behavior modification, while some do both. Be sure the trainer is able to help you accomplish your goals.
Check out qualifications and experience.
There are many gifted dog professionals out there who arenít certified, and yet there are many certified trainers who are not experts.
It's best to look for those who have taken the time to become a true professional through schooling and/or certification, ensuring that the person you hire has had to pass some minimum requirements, do some studying, and put in some hands-on hours with dogs. Know also that new methods of training dogs are being discovered all the time, so good dog trainers will participate in continuing their education by attending workshops, seminars, and conferences.
Look for reviews and examples.
It is best to search review sites such as Yelp, Google, or Facebook because businesses can't pay to alter or remove reviews. To avoid being misled or duped, be sure to check the integrity of both good and bad reviews as some good reviews could be fake and negative reviews might come from their competitors. Many trainers share videos of dogs they've worked with on their website or on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. If not, ask to view a training class.
Be sure you're included in the training.
Thereís nothing wrong with board-n-train programs so that trainers can work through your dog's more challenging behaviors,
however it is important to work closely with helping owners on identifying their own issues and behaviors so that they are able to change as much as their dog changes. More often than not itís the owner who needs the most "training."
Finally, your own philosophy and ethics.
For example, some people are opposed to certain training tools. I am fine with most tools as long as they are used correctly and humanely. If you feel bad and object to a training tool, your dog will have a bad experience with the tool. A good dog trainer will be able to explain what they use and why in a clear way that you can understand. When it comes to choosing the right trainer, you have a world of options. Make sure that the trainer you choose agrees with and supports your own values, because you are the one who is going to live with your dog. If you feel that this trainer isnít for you, just pass. If your normally friendly dog is very reserved around a particular trainer, you may want to meet with a few others.
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"If it's important that your dog behaves, you'll find a way to get results. If not, you'll find excuses."