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Choosing a Dog TrainerIn some areas, there are very few trainers to choose from. In others, the market is saturated with them. In either case, it is worth taking the time to make a truly informed decision. Sometimes bad training is worse than no training at all. If there is no suitable trainer in your area, consider books, DVDs, the Internet, and other resources to help you learn to train your dog.
Observe the Trainer interacting with his/her own dog.
This does a couple of things for you. First, you can see how well-trained the Trainer's dog is. If they haven't successfully trained their own dog, how can they expect to help you train yours? Second, it lets you see what kind of relationship the Trainer has with their dog. If it's not the kind of relationship you want with your own dog, you can find another trainer. For example, if you don't want your dog to fear you, you don't want a trainer whose dog is afraid of her.
Observe a Class.
Most reputable trainers will allow you to observe a class without your dog before committing. This gives you the opportunity to see the methods and teaching style of the trainer. If you are uncomfortable with anything you see, you know this isn't the right class for you and your dog. Also, without your dog there to occupy your attention, you can focus on the other dogs in the class. While many dogs are worried in initial training classes, they should not be overly stressed.
Ask their Qualifications.
You need a license to cut someone's hair. All you need to train a dog is someone willing to pay you to do it. Anybody can claim to be a dog trainer. Make sure they are qualified. Do they attend professional seminars? Do they keep up with the latest breakthroughs in behavioral science? Do they have any certifications or professional memberships? Don't be afraid to ask, what makes you qualified to train my dog? Many excellent dog trainers are self-taught, and they will have spent many hours studying their profession. Make sure they didn't watch a video or read a book and then declare themselves a professional dog trainer!
Go with your gut.
Often, we feel that little twinge that tells us something isn't right. But, we ignore it because we don't trust our gut. Just remember that not everyone who claims to be an "expert" is, and your gut will not steer you wrong. It's better to err on the side of caution.
Woof University, LLC Columbia, SC
Woof U is co-owned by Dawn O'Cain and Kelly Whittington. Dawn was the pioneer of positive dog training in the Midlands with over 30 years experience. Kelly is a CARE board member and dog foster with over 10 years experience. They are members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Private consults also offered for dogs who cannot attend group classes due to aggression or excessive fear.
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