Is your pup or dog giving you too much trouble? Are they chewing things around the house or furiously barking at everyone who passes through your front door? Have all your attempts to change this behaviour gone to waste? Now that you have finally made up your mind to find a dog trainer, you can sit back and relax. But it’s essential that you find trainers that are reputable and have enough experience to train your dog in the areas it best requires.
It’s totally understandable if you find yourself wondering, “Are there good dog trainers near me?” As dog parents, we wouldn’t want to compromise when it comes to our little pooch!
So let’s start with a question that must have come to your mind a million times before:
While many dog owners can train their dogs themselves, remember that behavioral problems are quite different from pure antics. Maybe you’re not able to curb your dog’s destructive tendencies while it’s a pup, or maybe your dog is older and hides whenever a stranger comes around. Hiring a professional trainer comes with huge benefits, both for you and your dog. There’s no fixed period in time to hire a trainer or a dog behaviourist. While many hire one during their dog’s early years, you can also hire a trainer at a later stage if you believe you need help with your dog.
And remember - hiring a dog trainer does not in any sense mean that you failed at the task of training your dog. All dogs are different with different dispositions, and a little help from a professional will go a long way.
One of the first obvious things you can do is run a Google search which will give you a list of names you can look through and contact. While this is an easy task, another better option is speaking to your veterinarian or other dog owners for references of dog trainers in your area. The reason this is better is that not only will you come across a reputable dog trainer, but you can also be definite that the trainer will use the right methods to train your dog since someone you now know has already hired them.
You can also look at dog clubs, or ask a well-trained dog’s owner at the park for details of trainers. After all, more people are now hiring dog trainers than ever before. What you should note is that dog trainers today go by different names too. Some of these include behavior trainers, pet therapists, pet psychologists, and behavior counselors. Be aware of the exact services and methods these dog trainers offer before you choose to hire them.
Will Conduct An Initial Assessment: Any good and reputable dog trainer and behaviourist will conduct an initial assessment of your dog before the training process starts. To start the training process with the right steps, a good trainer will ask a ton of questions about everything from your lifestyle to the tactics you use with your dog when the behavior gets worrisome. Someone who is a good fit for your dog will be able to decipher what the problem is and the steps that can be tried to change it. If the trainer you meet isn’t able to understand your dog's needs, maybe he/she is not the right fit for the job.
Will Have A Training Plan: Similar to what psychologists do after an assessment, a good dog trainer will chalk out a training plan for your dog. Only after the trainer has conducted the assessment and has understood your dog’s needs, a plan of action will be made. What you must remember is that keeping you in the loop is important. As the owner, you need to be aware of the plan and the progress as time goes by. At the same time, this training plan should be flexible, without which the training can get monotonous since dogs get bored too!
Is Knowledgeable: It goes without saying that the trainer you hire for your dog should have the adequate knowledge that’s required. Dog trainers who create training plans and have a good reputation based on past clients will have a store of knowledge. But, you must also make sure that they go beyond using basic commands like “sit” or “stay” or other basic tactics that can be found anywhere on the internet. A good trainer will also be someone who uses progressive methods to train your dog like positive reinforcement since he/she is aware of the negative side effects of regressive methods like punishment.
Has All Qualifications and Certifications in Place: A reputable dog trainer will have all the necessary qualifications and certifications in place. In a similar way, these qualifications can come from a professional dog training school or mentor where the trainer has learned different behavior training techniques. What’s best about having a trainer with the required qualifications is that you can be definite that the methods they will use are tried, and tested and your dog is safe in their hands.
Is Patient: We believe that patience is a virtue that dog trainers need more than anything else. While some dogs can be trained easily, others take much longer to reach those milestones. A good dog trainer will understand that every dog is different and employ the necessary methods to train it. Not only will a patient trainer repeat techniques for the dog, but he/she will also keep their cool when the task at hand gets challenging.
Is Ready To Train In Your Presence: You must be very careful of dog trainers who don’t agree to train your dog in your presence. Always remember that a good dog trainer will be more than ready to have you sit around while your dog is being trained. Most times trainers themselves ask you to sit during the training because it serves a useful purpose - you will learn the techniques that are being taught which you can use yourself in the future. So, beware of trainers who show discomfort when asked about your presence at a session. It could be a red flag indicating that the training might be using methods that aren’t appropriate.
Provides References: Dog trainers who have been referred to you will have references from other clients as well. But, it’s important that you ask for them and carefully go through them since forging references is a common and easy practice. If the trainer is part of a larger club or has a website of his own, ratings on the website can be one way to ascertain their credibility. At the same time, if the trainer has provided the contact details of their previous clients, or they are ready to give those if asked, that’s a positive sign. Your dog should be in the hands of an expert and caring dog trainer, so don’t skip this step.
Their History And Experience: Question the trainer on how they got into training, proof of their qualifications and references, and for how long they’ve been training dogs. Also, ask them specific questions about their training like what type of method have they trained in and which method do they employ most often.
The Equipment They Use And How: Make sure that the trainer isn’t using electric collars, prong, or spray collars, and check or choose chains to train your dog. These are regressive methods and not positive reinforcers which can lead to negative side effects.
The Training Process: After a training plan is chalked, ask the trainer questions like what will you do if your dog reacts appropriately, what will you do if your dog displays unwarranted behaviors, do you change methods when the need arises and what those might be.
Methods To Use At Home: Ask your trainer if you will also be taught behaviors to exhibit around your dog when the trainer is not around.
Hiring a dog trainer is expensive, to say the least, and while basic dog training is at the lower end, the cost of hiring an expert trainer for specific behavioral problems can poke a hole through a wallet.
While you may try your own methods at home, it is easier said than done. Trust us when we say that hiring a trainer will be an unparalleled experience for your dog, especially if they have been exhibiting aggression, fear, or anxiety. Not only will your dog establish better bonds with you, but it will also mingle well with other dogs and people. At the same time, if you hire a trainer in your dog’s initial months, productive behaviors will be learned quickly. Also, remember that a trainer or a dog behaviourist can bring a different perspective and technique to the table which your dog might understand better!
Like we said before, not all dogs are the same, and good trainers are able to read their personalities while also looping you in for the whole ride. We know you want to give your dog the best possible life, and if training is something that can help with their problems, we suggest you give it a try.