Check out this informative article on choosing a dog trainer that is right for you written by 4 Paws University:
Dog training is an unregulated industry. That means anyone, and we mean anyone, can advertise as a dog trainer and even aggression specialist. They do not have to have a special license, certification or any training whatsoever. It could be your neighbor who thinks they are good with dogs because they’ve owned two or three dogs that were relatively well-behaved. It could be a groomer who is an avid viewer of dog shows on television and seeks to emulate what they see.
We hope this guide will help dog owners find a professional who is right for them and their dog and avoid those trainers who are unethical and even dangerous.
Why It Matters
Many of my clients have worked with other trainers before coming to 4Paws. The following incidents by local trainers are based on their reports, as well as reports given to local shelters and humane societies:
There are thousands of these stories being told to other professionals and humane societies throughout the country. Unfortunately, the vast majority of cases are never even investigated for animal cruelty. In all of the cases above, the trainers are still in business in the Sacramento area.
Trainers, Consultants and Behaviorists, Oh My!
The term “trainer” has become an umbrella for a wide range of professions and experience, not all of which are appropriate for all problems and not all trainers are knowledgeable in all areas of training and behavior. You would not go to an optometrist for a heart condition, or a cardiologist for new corrective lenses, and yet they are both doctors. Within each profession there are specialists and choosing the right specialist can make all the difference.
With the exception of veterinary behaviorists and specific certifications offered by professional organizations, there are few, if any regulations about who can call themselves a trainer or a behaviorist. The following are the most commonly accepted titles by responsible professionals.
Master Dog Trainer, dog psychologist, behaviorist, and behavioralist are all terms which anyone may apply to themselves without regulation. CAUTION: Some dog trainers falsely advertise that they hold professional memberships and/or certifications. Certifications and memberships are easy to verify on the certifying organization’s website.
Types of Training
Now that we have broken down the types of training professionals, it is also important for dog owners to understand the types of training methods, as the wrong approach can be more damaging than no training at all.
No matter what the type of service or the methods and tools used, there are good and bad professionals everywhere. The tool or method is only as good as the operator and their ability to teach the dog owner how to use them effectively and humanely!
Personality differences can also create a problem in your training program. If you and your trainer do not communicate well or get along personally it could create problems down the line.
We recommend including the following questions in your interview:
The trainer should be able and willing to answer these questions in a way that you can understand.
The following responses during the interview process might be cause for concern and require further examination:
Making Your Decision
When you finally make your decision, it should be based on the trainer’s methods, experience and knowledge.
Do not make your choice based on convenience, price or claims that the trainer knows or is just like a television personality or that there is no one else like them. There are no secrets in dog training or new, revolutionary methods, no matter what anyone says.
You should have a basic understanding of the types of trainers, titles and training methods before choosing a trainer. Because if things go wrong you will have little to no recourse, as there are no public agencies regulating the industry.
Doing a little research in the beginning will go a long way to helping you meet your training and behavior goals and protecting yourself and your dog.