How To Hire The Right Dog Trainer? What Makes A Good Gog Trainer?
In California, a German Shepherd died at the hands of a trainer who felt she was helping. Her methods included restraining the dog for an hour while she poked him and barked in his ear. The young dog later died at the vet from physical and emotional stress. The owner protested during the session but was told it had worked on many dogs. How can you know who you’re hiring?
There are no licenses required to call yourself a dog trainer. State and national governments do not regulate the industry. There is no group that looks at what’s covered at a school for dog trainers to make sure it’s accurate and adequate.
In many ways becoming a dog trainer is like the old apprentice model of learning a trade. However, most trades today, such as hairdressers, plumbers, electricians, contractors, etc. have standardized curriculums and require licensing to practice.
There are a number of ways a dog trainer can have certification titles after their names even though there is not an industry standard.
• NADOI — National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors.
• IACP — International Association of Canine Professionals.
• CPDT — Certified Pet Dog Trainer (Association of Pet Dog Trainers)
• IAABC — International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
Also, a trainer could say that they have a certificate from a dog training school. However, it is merely something you get when you complete a program that has not been accredited by anyone but that school. These programs are usually only a few months long, in a field that takes many years to master (to get to the point where you know what you don’t know).
The term “Animal Behaviorist” is reserved for those who have a PhD in animal behavior or who have a veterinary degree with a specialty in behavior. A “behaviorist” without those academic degrees is not accredited, licensed or appointed by anyone but themselves.
When hiring a trainer consider their personality, their education (ask them how they learned to be a dog trainer), and their professional affiliations. Look for someone who keeps up with the field by attending workshops and conferences. Make sure they have experience dealing with pet dogs and their owners; titles earned with their dogs at shows are nice, but they don’t mean the trainer knows how to deal with issues you’re having.
Above all, if you are ever uncomfortable with what they do or ask you to do to your dog, stop. Take the time to do some research to find out It’s simple to get on the internet and check out anything from dog training schools to methods. Make an informed choice.
By Marilyn Marks
Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Owner of The Good Dog Spot, Bloomfield, CT