From basic commands to advanced training for dog sports, a great trainer can make all the difference. That can be particularly true if you are a new dog owner.
Group classes can have the added benefit of socialising your puppy, whereas behavioural issues may need a trainer who will accommodate private training sessions.
So how do you know when you’ve found a great trainer?
Dog training is an unregulated industry. Anyone can print business cards and start to charge for their services as a dog trainer.
This leaves the door open for a gluttony of underqualified and inexperienced “professionals” as well as people using outdated and dangerous training techniques alongside qualified and exceptional trainers.
The first thing to ask the trainer is what are their methods and training philosophy, and make sure you are comfortable with their approach.
Look for a trainer who uses positive reinforcement training – rewarding the dogs for appropriate behaviour and teaching alternative behaviours in place of inappropriate ones.
Ensure the trainer offers classes if you are looking to socialise your dog, or private tuition for specific behaviours or issues you want to address.
The trainer should want to know as much about the history of the dog as possible and a great trainer will want to work with the entire family as consistency in training is always key.
Great trainers know it is about training you to train and understand your dog more than about training your dog.
A positive trainer will avoid the use of pain, fear and punishment both in tools and techniques when training dogs.
Instead, a positive trainer will rely on the power of positive reinforcement combined with an understanding of what dominance really is and the dangers of punishment to the long term wellbeing of the dog.
If you’re taking your dog to a training class, ask to observe the class before attending with your dog. Things to look for:
Look for a trainer with good communication and people skills. A good trainer is a great listener and should be interested in your take on your dog's characteristics, tendencies, personal history, strengths and weaknesses.
Rather than jumping into a situation and immediately dictating who and what needs to change, good trainers start by sitting down and talking through expectations, concerns and philosophies before starting any actual training or behavior modification work.
One Question You Should Ask Your Trainer
The most important question you should ask a dog trainer before you hire them – “What will happen when my dog does something wrong?”