Looking for a dog trainer?

Too many dogs find themselves in a shelter when certain behaviors are ignored and escalate into a problem that the owner can no longer handle. To prevent your dog from becoming a statistic, consider a professional dog training class. Dog training classes can be fun, while they provide a time of socialization that will help your dog to become a well behaved and valued member of the family.

Why should I take my dog to training classes?
Your canine friend is always learning. It does not matter if your dog is a puppy or an older dog. If you do not teach your pet the rules, he will invent his own. Although “puppyhood” is the best time to train and socialize a dog, older dogs can learn too. ALL ages can benefit from training. Classes allow owners to safely control their dog’s behavior. Whether you are a first time pet owner or have owned many dogs, training classes provide an opportunity to bond with your dog. Through training classes, both you, and your dog, will learn to communicate with one another.

What should I look for in a trainer?
It is important that the dog trainer you choose uses humane training techniques that encourage appropriate behavior through such positive reinforcement as food, attention, play, or praise. Training techniques should never involve yelling, choking, shaking the scruff, or actions that frighten or inflict pain. The trainer should be enthusiastic and have an obvious and genuine love for dogs.

Where can I find a trainer?
Ask around. It is always good to start by getting a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, your veterinarian, humane society, boarding kennel, or groomer. You can also search online. Don’t assume that a trainer’s membership in a dog trainer association qualifies him or her as a suitable instructor. Not all associations’ membership criteria will meet your expectations.

Which class format is best?
Prior to making this decision, work out what you expect from going to dog training classes or what problem behavior(s) you want to have addressed. This will help you in choosing the appropriate training. In group classes, dogs learn to interact with other dogs, respond to owners with distractions, and to socialize with other people. Owners can also learn by watching others interact with their dogs. If a group class setting is chosen, can one on one support be provided if needed? Private lessons or “dog only” lessons do not provide the socialization of a group class. You need to be the person training your dog but sometimes, it is necessary to get individual help. Keep in mind that dog training is not an intuitive process and you need to be educated on how to do it by someone who is experienced and properly trained.

Regardless of what type of training you decide upon, make sure that all family members are on board and are willing to participate in your dog’s training. By learning to provide consistent rules and communicate humanely, everyone involved will develop a bond that will last a lifetime.

What should I look for in a group class?
It is a good idea to ask the trainer if you can observe a class or session before signing up. Watch for the following:

  • Is class size limited to allow for individual attention?
  • Are there separate classes for puppies and adult dogs?
  • Are there different class levels?
  • Are training equipment and methods humane?
  • Does the trainer use a variety of methods to meet the dogs’ individual needs?
  • Is proof of vaccination required? (This should be taken seriously.)
  • Are dogs and owners actively encouraged?
  • Is praise given frequently?
  • Is the general atmosphere fun, safe, and clean?

What should I do before I go to class?
Once you have selected a training program, have your dog examined by your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is healthy, free from parasites, and up to date on vaccinations. Be careful not to feed your dog a large meal before class because many trainers rely on food treats to encourage or reward a desired behavior. Be sure to bring any training equipment that is recommended by the instructor and ALWAYS practice between classes with brief lessons that end on a positive note.

Your dog’s health, well being, and behavior are determined by the training you provide. By enrolling and actively participating in dog training classes, you will help your dog become not just a well-behaved member of the family, but also a safe member of your community.


(Information from The Humane Society of the United States and Dog Training Central)