Choosing a dog trainer is difficult when you are not sure what to look for in a quality trainer. Regardless of your level of experience or expertise with dogs, you are looking to find someone you can consult. This person should have more knowledge than you and be able to teach you in a way you are able to understand. Preparing yourself with some information and key points to consider can help you make a wise choice with confidence.
- Find an individual experienced with various levels of obedience and aggression as they should be well equipped to handle all your possible training needs. Some trainers only offer very minimal basic obedience, however, your needs may change over time. For example, you may start off with the most perfect companion for yourself during single life but things change; you fall in love and have a family. Some loyal, one person dogs do not transition well to a family lifestyle. Changes in your life directly create change in your dog’s life. You cannot predict how every change will affect the canines you share it with.
- Decide what are your ultimate training goals. Most of us just want a well-mannered dog to befriend our guests and cuddle with our family. However, there is a whole wide world of canine sports out there. Many trainers will offer various introductory courses but fine tune to the competition level for a select one or two. Another option may be therapy dog work. Whether you are looking to compete or specialize in therapy with your four-legged friend, you will want to find a trainer that you can use to attain that more specific goal.
- Choose a training style that fits with your beliefs! With so many different training styles out there, it is easy to see how people may become confused or overwhelmed in choosing the best method for them and their dog. A trainer chooses to teach their style because they feel it is effective yet many professionals become stagnate in their methods. Evolving with current knowledge and studies on dog behavior is part of continuing education. Feel free to ask your prospective trainer what their technique is. If you have concerns or a preference for another style, ask them to explain why they think theirs is best. Ask questions!
- Determine your preference for class structure. Group classes are very common and tend to be easier on the wallet. Private classes can offer more individualized attention and thus have the dog excelling faster. Many dogs are extremely overwhelmed in a group class with all the motion and noise. Many people are too. Considering your personality (and your dog’s) may help you make the distinction on which structure is a better fit.
Above all else, you need to be comfortable with whomever you work with in order to be able to ask the questions necessary to progress toward a better relationship between you and your dog. Training should be fun, strengthen your bond, and be an investment toward the future. A quality trainer will be a wealth of knowledge and have a willingness to share it freely.