How to choose a dog trainer!
This is hard! Especially if you haven't had a dog before or haven't had a puppy in a few years! So many different styles of dog training, so many different 'certifications'!!! Here are some things you should know before you choose a dog trainer.
- Dog training is an unregulated industry
There are NO licensing or educational requirements
There are NO generally accepted principals or best practices
There are MANY different ideas on what is the right way to train
- Dog training is a scientce - not an art
- There are educational opportunities to learn that science
- There are many professional associations for dog trainers and each one follows their own ideas of what's the best way to train dogs.
THINGS TO KNOW
- The two main dog training methods used are Positive Reinforcement and Positive Punishment (aka the use of Aversives like Prong, Choke and Shock collars). While these are both science based methods and are not mutually exclusive, research has shown that using only Positive Reinforcement works better without causing harm to the dog.
- Different professional organization advocate for different training methods (just because a trainer has a professional affiliation or acreditation doesn't mean they are using only positive methods)
- There are for-profit schools that teach dog training, and provide 'credentials' upon graduation. This is fine as long as you know what type of training that school teaches!
- There is only one independent credentialing body in the dog training industry, the CCPDT - Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers
They test based on industry knowlege AND a Positive Reinforcement based industry best practices philosphy.
BEFORE YOU CHOOSE A DOG TRAINER
- ASK about their methods
Trainers that use only positive reinforcement and fear free practices will tell you that! Others may say they are 'Balanced' which often means they will use punishment including harsh tools like prong, choke or shock collars (euphemistically called an E-collar), others will require a 'Training Tool Fee' of $300 or more - this is a shock collar!
- ASK about their professional credentials and affiliations
Then look that organization up and find out what their training philosophy is!
- ASK what tools they use - make sure you are comfortable with the tools they are going to tell you to put on your dog. Would you use something similar on a non-verbal child?
- DON'T let anyone convince you to use a tool or method you are not comfortable with! It's YOUR dog, it can't protect itself so you need to be it's advocate!
- Follow the advice of Veterinary Behaviorists (veterinarians who specialize in behavior). AVSAB Position Statement on Humane Training