How to choose the right dog trainer

When you are searching the web for “dog trainer near me”, what qualities are your looking for?  Ideally, you should want someone with years of experience, a strong certification, extreme patience and be crazy about dogs.  In addition, your dog trainer should be great at training people, since 50% of dog training is training the owner.  Moreover, your trainer should have excellent problem-solving skills, be knowledgeable on dog behavior, and have an uncanny ability to work well with dogs.  Communication is vital, be skilled in dog handling, be confident, and above all, your trainer should have a true passion for dogs.

Let’s talk about certification.  Most “dog trainers” are not certified.  They do not possess many of the above attributes, especially strong problem-solving skills, knowledge of different dog breeds, or have all the positive reinforcement techniques at their disposal.  A good dog-training school requires over 1,000 hours of schoolwork and shadowing another certified trainer.  Without this, not only are they unqualified, but could lead to mishandling of your dog and even worse, exacerbate behavior issues.

Patience is a virtue – patience with dogs is absolutely necessary.  Dog training is a grind – it often takes an entire session to shape a single command – now that’s patience.  But patience is necessary also when explaining things to the dog’s guardian.  If the owner can’t  duplicate your techniques, it’s a lot of wasted money.    Perseverance and patience are very similar.  A dog trainer must fight through the dog’s zoomies, ADHD, other distractions and stay on course with the training.

Experience goes without saying.  There is seemingly an infinite amount of behavior issues with dogs, whether they are puppies or adults.  To get a handle on a large percentage of these issues, a dog trainer must log at least 5 years and/or 2,000 dogs (with multiple sessions per dog) to become minimally competent.   Whether it’s nipping, chewing, leash pulling, dog aggression, human aggression, fear, barking or you name it, a dog trainer must have the tools in his toolbox readily available, as time is money for his customers.

Communication is always important, no matter what industry you’re in.  In this case, the dog trainer must communicate in at least 2 languages, English and dog.  When it comes to dog language, there are verbal and hand signals.    A marker sound must be used to signal to the dog when she performs the right behavior, and when the behavior occurs, it must be marked instantly, as dogs think way faster than we do.  Then there is the communication necessary to convey to the owner what to do, how to do it and when. 

Last, a dog trainer has to be born with the innate ability to work well with dogs, which includes being crazy about them.  There is a talent component that is just as critical as experience and skill.  A good dog trainer can assess with confidence and naturally create a training plan that fits perfectly to the situation.  A talented trainer can read a dog’s body language and via positive reinforcement techniques, achieve the results requested by the owner.

In the end, you inevitably need to search the web and identify all of these traits in a dog trainer.  The best way to do this is to read as many Google Reviews as possible, call and speak with the dog trainer, and review the website.  Or just call Top Dog Training!!

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