Joining a class taught by a professional dog trainer is an indispensable part of your dog’s obedience training. A professional can help you fine-tune the basics of obedience exercises and help you troubleshoot problems. A class setting also helps your dog learn to socialize and gives you an opportunity to meet other dog owners. Choosing a professional dog trainer isn’t a difficult task if you take your time and follow some simple guidelines.
Characteristics of a good trainer
Every dog trainer will have his or her own approach to obedience training, but these are characteristics to look for when you choose one.
Friendly and open
The trainer should be approachable and willing to answer any questions. Most importantly everyone in the class should have a good time, dogs included.
Provides clear instruction
Lessons should be easy to understand with a clear goal. Ideally, you should get a handout with the exercises on it so you can take notes and review on your own.
Demonstrates the exercises
The trainer should be willing to demonstrate the exercises, preferably with a dog that doesn’t know the particular behavior.
Provides practice time and one-on-one instruction
There should be ample time to practice the exercises with your dog during class so you can ask questions. And everyone should get personal instruction to refine techniques and solve any problems.
The only way to know for sure if a particular dog trainer or class is right for you and your dog is to get involved. Attend a class or session before you sign up. You should be comfortable with the instructor and the methods he or she uses to train your dog.
What to watch out for
Here are a few red flags to look out for when choosing a professional dog trainer.
Inhumane training methods
A trainer should never employ methods that you’re uncomfortable with or that could be harmful to your dog or you.
Guarantees on training
No one can truly guarantee that your dog will be obedience trained and stay that way over his lifetime. Some organizations, like Bark Busters, will retrain your dog for free if a behavior problem returns, which is fine. Just be wary of outlandish claims touting “instant obedience training” or extensive guarantees that can’t be backed up.
No vaccination requirements
Dogs should be required to have the necessary vaccinations before attending a class. This is particularly important for puppy kindergartens. Ask the trainer ahead of time so you can be prepared.
With these tips in mind you should be able to choose a dog trainer that’s right for both you and your dog. Visit our directory to find a dog trainer near you.