Finding a Good Trainer
The first thing to consider when looking for a good trainer is that dog trainers do not require specific licensing. Any person with a desire to do so can simply proclaim himself or herself a dog trainer, and begin looking for customers. You need to be very selective and do your research thoroughly before trusting someone who will be very influential in your life.
Many dog owners successfully train their pets without help from outside sources. But in reality, most people would benefit by using a professional dog trainer particularly in the early stages. A quality dog trainer can help instruct the dog while also providing the owner with invaluable guidance and assistance. Dogs with specific training needs often pose training problems that outstrip the ability of even a relatively well-informed dog-owner and therefore finding a great dog trainer becomes essential.
There is no magic formula for choosing the right trainer. But there are many factors you may want to consider when looking for someone with whom you can successfully work with, and more importantly, upon whom you can truly rely with your dogs future behavioural skills. The two main points to consider are experience and reputation.
Experienced trainers are more likely to be able to successfully deal with the issues and concerns you have, based on their proven track record with other dogs and other situations. Additionally, if a trainer has been around for any significant period of time, they must be doing something right – you would expect them to have sufficient talent and ability to produce the desired results you are looking for.
You may want to try out a new and less experienced trainer, but there would be more of an increased risk that the trainer will not have the skills or ability to satisfactorily train you and your dog. Before you consider which trainer to use, check out their past experiences. Find out what kind of dogs they have dealt with, and the training issues they have dealt with. Do they work alone, or are they part of a team or club? Where do they get their training from? Who do they go to for advice and guidance?
Reputation and recommendation is an essential part of selecting your trainer. Experience gives some idea of talent, but it is not a foolproof way of assessing whether it is the right trainer for you. Check out opinions and references from a variety of sources in order to find the right trainer for you.
Speak to your vet, your local pet shops, and close acquaintances who have used a dog trainer. Ask if they could recommend a dog trainer. Even people you bump into on your travels (those with the well behaved dogs of course). By asking around, you can find out which trainers are most highly regarded. The same name will come up time and time again. Look in your local press for any articles, search online in your area and see what comes up. Look for reviews from past clients, there are lots of ways to check if you give yourself ample time.
Ask the trainer herself/himself, too. See if they will provide some references you may contact, preferably past clients. Talk to them and find out all you can about the trainer and the quality of training they experienced.
The importance of a trainer to a dog’s life is paramount and it is well worth you spending time to make sure you have selected wisely. Always keep these two things in mind – the trainer’s experience and reputation.
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About the Author: Lauren Langman is responsible for the design and development of all Devon Dogs classes, events and workshops. She competes in Agility at Grade 7, the highest rank of competition in the British agility arena. She regularly competes and wins at top agility events in the UK including Crufts and Olympia, and has represented the UK at World Agility Championship level on many occasions.