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How to choose a dog trainer

If you’re lucky enough to have a dog as part of your family, you will know how important it is to take the time to train them properly. As well as being a fantastic way to bond with your dog, it helps keep them safe by teaching them how to behave in different situations, and to respect boundaries.

If you’re a new dog owner or simply don’t know where to start with your training journey, you might decide to use a dog trainer to help you.  But how do you choose the right one?

Do your research

Dog training is an unregulated industry, so it’s really important to do your research before selecting a trainer. Take a look at their website and social media pages to get a sense of their experience, talk to people who have used them before, or even consider asking your vet for a recommendation. Once you have a shortlist ask if you can go and observe a class.  Once there keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Do the dogs look relaxed and happy?
  • Is there minimal noise? Shouting shouldn’t be needed and lots of barking might suggest the dogs are stressed.
  • Are they using equipment like choke/check chains, prong collars and similar? These should not be in use. They are not necessary and do more harm than good to dogs.
  • Is the class a good size where the trainer is able to give everyone the attention they need?
  • Is the training kind, fair and effective?

While you are there, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, so you have all the information you need to help you make an informed decision.

Woman with a dog

Look at their training methods

While training should and can be tailored to your dog, it should always be based on positive reinforcement. This is where dogs are rewarded for positive behaviour and taught alternative behaviours to replace the inappropriate ones. If a trainer is using methods which include positive punishment and negative reinforcement, it would be wise to avoid them, as these training practices can cause your dog to become aggressive and fearful.

Think about your goals

What is it that you want to achieve by working with a trainer? Are you looking to teach your pup basic commands? Or are you looking for help with some tricky behaviour? Perhaps your dog likes to jump at people to say hello, or has yet to fully develop their recall. If you know what you want, you can then look for a trainer that has the experience or approach that will best help you meet these goals.

Be aware that if your dog has a specific behavioural issue, you might find they are less suited to the class environment and would benefit from private sessions instead.

Spaniel with a woman

Look beyond basic training

Basic training is important and is a fantastic place to start, but training goes beyond being able to ask your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘stay’. It’s also about getting to know your dog on a deeper level. So look for trainers that teach about dog behaviour, their body language and the way that dogs learn. This will give you some great insights that will help you better meet your dogs’ needs throughout their life.  

Whoever you choose to help you train your dog, remember training should be fun, so if it isn’t, it might be time to see who else is out there.

Want to get even more insight into your dog’s day? Then it’s time to get a PitPat dog activity monitor. It measures all your dog’s daily activity including rest, distance and calories, so you can make sure they’re ready for whatever the next training session brings.

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