There are so many dog trainers out there to choose from nowadays it's enough to make a new dog owner's head spin. Even searching for a behavior problem answer online leads to so many conflicting responses that many dog owners give up and in some situations, end up surrendering their dog.
So how do you know who to call or what to do? What questions should you ask before hiring a trainer and what are signs that the trainer is qualified to help you with your dog? Here are some thoughts;
1.Certification and/or proof of continuing education in dog behavior and training related classes and subjects. This shows you that the dog trainer is constantly updating their knowledge on dog training and is aware and familiar with the latest techniques and advances in the field. Most certifications REQUIRE that the trainer get a certain amount of continuing education credits in order to maintain their certification. This is good news for you!
2.References on request, no questions asked. A good dog trainer will happily give you references from veterinarians, clients or other colleagues.
3.Refusal to guarantee results. Although this may seem strange, any trainer that guarantees training results for obedience or behavior problems is something to be very wary of. Without meeting your dog or getting an in-depth history, there is no way a trainer can tell you whether the goals you have for your dog are appropriate or whether training or behavior modification will be successful. Even after meeting you and your dog there should be no guarantees, since behavior is never an absolute and dogs, like people, are not 100% predicable, no matter how much training is done. However, a good trainer will work with you for as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable with your dogs behavior and be a constant support system.
4. Saying "I don't know." No trainer knows the answer to everything, and being able to admit that is a good characteristic. This is a profession that is constantly surprising us and I learn something new all the time, from dogs I work with, or from seminars and workshops I attend. A good trainer will admit when they are not sure of the answer and happily seek solutions and opinions from other professional sources.
5. Feeling good about you and your dog. Finally, a good trainer should never make you feel that you are a bad owner. Just the fact that you have called a trainer proves that you want to help you and your dog, and any trainer that belittles you for your dog's behavior is not going to be helpful in fixing the problem. Working with you enthusiastically and motivating you to help your dog or modify behavior problems is a sign of a dedicated and good trainer.