I have been surrounded by dogs in my professional and personal life for many happy and rewarding years and really enjoy the challenge of helping new owners and their dogs to get the most out of their relationship together.
Many dog owners decide that they could do with some professional help in training their dog, but they are not always sure who to turn to for the best results and sometimes don’t know what to look for in a dog trainer.
Although I am a professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience of training all manner of breeds and temperaments and compete at the highest levels in both the United States and Europe (where dog training is highly regulated), one of the big problems that members of the public face when trying to choose someone to train their dog, is that the dog training business is not regulated by a governing body in the United States — even though some trainers will try to make you think that it is!
I have experience training a variety of challenging breeds such as Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, Chow Chow’s and also know how to train dogs for a specific purpose such as preparing working dogs for personal protection, movie roles, law enforcement, and the handicap, but how do you know what to look for when choosing a dog trainer?
Searching online for a dog trainer is quick and easy and you can come across some impressive looking websites which make some attractive promises about successfully training your dog. The problem is that you don’t always know whether their claims of competence or experience are correct.
I’ll try and give you some pointers as to what questions to ask and some of the potential warning signs to look out for when checking out a dog trainer. It is also important to understand the fundamental reasons why you dog needs training in the first place, as this will help you to hopefully make the right choices for you and your dog.
It is always a bit frustrating for me to hear that so many dogs are given up by their owners as a result of what are often easily correctable behaviors are allowed to become a problem and they feel they can’t cope any more.
It doesn’t have to be this way, which is why I believe that training is such a necessity and will reward both you and your dog with a fantastic relationship which will last a lifetime.
Remember that even if it is unintentional, you are constantly teaching your dog and they are always learning, so without rules and boundaries that work for both of you, this is where your dog could invent its own set of rules, and this is where the problems begin.
My aim as a professional dog trainer is to use humane training techniques which are designed to encourage appropriate behavior through a balanced approach.
Training is about balance and being fair and a good trainer will understand that some dogs are naturally defensive, whilst others are aggressive. There are many different personality traits that I come across and it would definitely not work to take a one-size-fits-all approach to training, so a varied approach is needed.
When talking to a potential dog trainer that you are looking to work with, ask if their method of training varies. What dictates a method of training is not the trainer but the dog, as they are as individual as we are, so you want a trainer who understands this.
Another warning flag to watch out for is if the trainer promotes the sole use of positive training techniques or just E-collar training techniques. Both have their place in training, but I believe that a balanced form of educating your dog is required, so my recommendation would be to find a trainer who offers flexibility in their teaching methods and is highly educated in all training techniques no matter the type of reinforcement.
I would also suggest you take the time to check out the facilities that the trainer has to offer and pay a visit to their place of business. While verifying that the facility is licensed and insured is important, check to see that they have a variety of training equipment such as high jumps, cross bars, weaves, agility A-Frames, Mondio / French ring bite suites, and wooden dumbbells. All of the training equipment is indicative that the trainer invests significant money into educational resources and tools.
There are a numerous dog trainers you will find on the internet who offer the convenience of home training, which is great, but it could also mean that they don’t have a suitable professional training setup or they don’t have a place of business at all!
At HDBT, our dog training school in South Jersey, we offer in home training only after an evaluation has been conducted at our climate controlled facility to determine the necessary training parameters. Our campus offers you and your dog a safe environment where we can get to know him or her and come up with a plan of action specifically designed for you.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dog Trainer
Many people people claim to be dog trainers, but few are doing it the right way. In order to make sure any dog training school you’re considering is actually doing that, here are a few questions to ask, along with the right answers:
- Do you believe in a balanced approach to training? The correct answer is “Yes. We can give you a handful of examples with different breeds and different scenarios on why we used various training tools and techniques. the way we did. Sometimes we are using high value rewards such as treats, while in some cases we layer in electronic collar training. What determines the method of training should not be the trainer, but the pets/dog’s temperament and nervous system.”
- Do you have a dog training facility we can visit? You want to hear “We not only have a facility, but we insist that you make an appointment for a 1-on-1 evaluation of your dog at our facility. This is an opportunity for you to see what our home base is like and get to know us better.Most dog trainers do not have a location, which is a major indicator of how established the trainer is.”
- Do you have references and testimonials? The right answer here is “We can provide you the names of clients who have given us permission to do so, but you can also go online and read independent reviews and testimonials. You might even recognize the name of some of our clients.”
- Have you spoken at training seminars? The top dog trainers in New Jersey will have developed a long list of accomplishments, but a good response would be “We are regularly called upon by law enforcement organizations and dog clubs to discuss strategies in training certain breeds. We sometimes can bring a unique point of view to other trainers, due to our years of experience. Teaching and giving back to our community is very important to us.”
- How many dogs have you trained/how many years of experience as a trainer? The correct answer is “We have trained thousands of dogs over almost three decades of experience combined.”
Training your dog is an investment of your time and money and if you ask the right questions, the experience can be highly rewarding and beneficial to you and your dog.