The ultimate goal of pet ownership is a well-trained pet that follows commands easily, can be trusted to stay home alone, and engages with humans of all ages without incident. However, obedience to this degree isn’t instinctual for most pets. When pets are young, proper training is essential to teach basic commands to make your life easier. In addition, pets adopted from shelters sometimes come from unfortunate circumstances and must be retrained due to neglect or abuse.
Whether you have a puppy learning right from wrong or an adult pet with behavioral issues, an effective trainer can mean the difference between frustrated pet ownership and smooth sailing. In addition to correcting behavioral problems and teaching commands, the right trainer will also socialize your pet, so they don’t feel anxious in the presence of other people and pets.
Since dog training is an unregulated industry, it’s important to carefully evaluate a trainer before securing their services. The trainer should be well-educated, certified, and the right fit for your pet’s personality.
Word of Mouth
When searching for a trainer, turn to your fellow pet owners for insight. Family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues have likely been in your shoes and can refer you to a trainer they trusted with their pet. Discuss your pet’s specific needs with others to understand if their trainer might also be able to meet your pet’s needs. If you see a well-behaved, obedient dog at the local dog park, don’t hesitate to ask its owner if it received professional training and write down the information if so.
Veterinarians are often well-informed about other pet service providers in their immediate area, which means they can serve as a trusted resource for recommending a qualified trainer. They also have the background knowledge of your pet to understand the extent and type of training needed, and who might best resolve those specific issues.
There are several reputable websites that provide trainer recommendations, from American Kennel Club-approved evaluators to membership directories of professional trainer associations.
Websites to help pet owners find qualified trainers include:
- American Kennel Club
- Certified Council for Professional Dog Trainers
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers
In addition to serving as a repository of qualified trainers with proper training and licensing, these websites also demonstrate commitment to receiving continuing education and staying on top of industry trends and best practices.
Online reviews can also be used as part of your trainer research, but don’t rely on them exclusively as they tend to be swayed in the direction of disgruntled customers. It’s common for an unhappy pet owner, much like a dissatisfied customer of any establishment, to leave a negative review while hundreds of happy customers never voice their satisfaction online. However, online reviews might confirm feedback received from family members, friends, or your veterinarian who provided recommendations and insight on trainers to avoid.
Once you have narrowed down your trainer search, consider observing a class before making a final decision. This will provide first-hand perspective on the trainer’s style, how they engage with the pets and their owners, and overall happiness of the pets during training. This also offers an opportunity to talk to fellow pet owners who have their pets currently enrolled in a program with the trainer being observed.
Whether the need is for behavioral correction, distraction techniques, or to alleviate anxiety, conducting thorough research is essential when selecting a trainer. Many trainers have specific areas of expertise, so be sure to enlist the services of a trainer with the proper credentials to create a more harmonious living environment for you and your pet.