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Finding A Good Trainer

February 18th, 2011, 12:49 PM
Hey all. Simple question here. Can somebody tell me some things to look for when finding a good trainer? like some things to maybe watch out for or may raise some red flags? Any input would be good. Thanks :)

February 18th, 2011, 01:09 PM
From my experience, cost should never be the main reason. Most people spend $1200 on dog trainers before they even get it right. Go ahead and spend the right money the first time. I have heard bad things about Bark Busters, but there is one person who I know who used them and it worked well for them. Whatever you training you do decide on....make sure its positive reinforcement and not heavy handed (pull and choke type) and that they let you go and observe a class and ask the student's questions. That's a huge thing. And make sure you are comfortable with what they are teaching and how they treat the dogs and the people. If you don't like the trainer your more than likely not going to learn anything from them and neither is your dog.

good luck:) :thumbs up

February 18th, 2011, 02:07 PM
I agree, positive re-enforcement is the way to go! It has proven to be the most effective and humane method in scientific experiments and it can prevent many common behavioral problems down the line.
Everyone has their own preferences and ideas of good dog training, so I will tell you what I would look for - but this isn't necessarily the be-all end-all, just my opinion.
Things I want to see covered (and these are ideals):
- A primer on dog body language and social signals
- A socialization class available, hopefully some for different types of dogs (puppy, adult, rescue, small breed)
- A good primer on clicking (or marking) and appropriate reward methods (including fading the lure)
- Some teaching "trick" behaviors in addition to obedience. Obedience is most important, but trick training is fun for both of you. It will also build your dog's confidence and increase their willingness to offer new behaviors to you.
- Certifications (with the IPDTA, and hopefully some background in animal sciences or behavioral work)
- A willingness for you to sit in on a class or two to be sure this is what you want and answer all of your questions.

Things I would avoid/red flags (the I being stressed here :) )
- "Any dog, any problem guaranteed" - I think training can solve any problem, but only with a lot of work and time. I'm wary of someone boasting it like a quick fix.
- Anything about dominance or being alpha
- "Balanced training" - this just means they use punishment

hope this helps :)

February 18th, 2011, 02:09 PM
The place I am looking at is a bit pricey, but that is not really my issue, I worry because they want to take him away for 2 weeks. Kind of like he will be going off for camp and I keep thinking "what happens at camp, stays at camp" I won't be there to see how he is treated or handled and he certainly cannot tell how it was for him when he comes home, and I would like to at least check out the facility. The place just sounds too good to be true. I was told by other trainers that he cannot be helped and to finally find a place that is willing to work with him and here I have all these questions, but the being away from home for so long has me feeling a bit ill at ease. The trainer seems really knowledgeable and confident but he never specified his training methods and I feel uncomfortable not seeing what will be going on for those weeks that he will be gone. Should I be worrying?

February 18th, 2011, 02:13 PM
Things I would avoid/red flags (the I being stressed here :) )
- "Any dog, any problem guaranteed" - I think training can solve any problem, but only with a lot of work and time. I'm wary of someone boasting it like a quick fix.
- Anything about dominance or being alpha
- "Balanced training" - this just means they use punishment

hope this helps :)

This is pretty much it, it is how they were advertised..also what got my attention. I never seen anything about "Balanced Training" but the other two were there.

February 18th, 2011, 02:46 PM
Sorry I don't agree with the training programs that take the dogs away for 2 weeks. This is of course just my personal opinion. But most of the time the training is for the owners not the dogs. So how are you supposed to learn if they take the dog away from you. And I would be wary of what they are doing with your dog when you are not around. Its one thing to step out of the room while your dog is being trained (I've done that before, because dogs do act differently when the owners aren't around) but leaving them there for 2 weeks?

I would be hesistant. What type of training are you looking at for your dog? What type of issues does your dog have?

I agree with the other poster. Anyone that "Guarantees" anything is a red flag to me too. We used a trainer once who could gurantee she could train leia in 2 weeks. She yanked and pulled her on a choke chain while we watched in horror. Poor Leia got really hurt too. And then (us being newbies and idiots) we agreed to let her take Leia to the dog park with her dogs, she came back that afternoon and told us that she can not train our dog, as she is severely dog aggressive and attacked her dog. She told us how she stuffed her into the ground and let her dog go at her. OK so this is when DH got involved. It wasn't pretty. :frustrated:

Fast forward to 3 years later. She lives with 3 other dogs and I volunteer for rescue and have had many fosters in and out of my home. She has been great with all of them big and small!

I've spent a pretty penny on training unfortunately before finding a good trainer, and I'm not alone but I have learnt alot from it. And I did find a great trainer who also taught me alot. When I look back I think "wow that trainer didn't have a clue". Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer unfortunately.

February 18th, 2011, 02:49 PM
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
No way would I ever send a dog away for training of any kind! You have no idea how your dog will be treated and there are way too many horror stories out there.
What issues does your dog have that other trainers aren't willing to deal with?

February 18th, 2011, 03:05 PM
I agree, a good trainer is hard to find. I finally found one the summer before we moved. Still there were a few things that he did that I didn't agree with, so I didn't do them. No problem with that with him. I think he figured I knew enough that he didn't say anything. The other I had, she was really good but pretty much just taught agillity, and she had to stop teaching cause she had to give up her teaching space. She was a good teacher and was really good at recognizing when the dog had, had enough.

Personally, now the only reason I'd go to a trainer is for the social aspect more than the actual training. I have enough books and dvds that I can figure out most things myself. If we had real issues that I can't or couldn't get past then I'd seek out someone with that experience.

I'd be inclined to go with someone who actually works with their own dogs. I'd be suspicious of a trainer who doesn't have their own dogs or doesn't do anything with them.

February 18th, 2011, 07:32 PM
I don't like the board and train type arrangements either. Training the dog is usually not the issue, training the OWNER is what it's all about. They can train the dog to be marvellous, but if they don't spend an equal amount training you (and what ever quick follow up most of these places offer are a bit silly I think) your dog will just revert mostly to his old self. Plus you're missing out on a great bonding experience.

Regardless of how good a trainer is or may have been recommended, always ask to see a class or watch them work. Some times there may just be a personality clash. If you don't like the trainer you're working with, you won't enjoy training.

For some, there may be breed issues. There are some trainers out there who may be excellent but have breed biases. Some prefer to only work with what may be typical agility dogs, some may prefer only small breeds, some may be biased against bully breeds, some may be biased against non-bully breeds.. and so on.

February 19th, 2011, 12:28 PM
Things I would avoid/red flags (the I being stressed here :) )
- "Any dog, any problem guaranteed" - I think training can solve any problem, but only with a lot of work and time. I'm wary of someone boasting it like a quick fix.
- Anything about dominance or being alpha
- "Balanced training" - this just means they use punishment

hope this helps :)

I disagree on one key point here. the "Anything about dominance or being alpha" is an important key point to training.

I would more watch out for people who use strange explanations about spiritual or harmonic balances as those are people who understand just enough about a dog to make him sit.

If you can listen to him, and actually understand every sentence he told you to a degree that you can see why it would work on a dog, then it's a good sign. In addition, the key things that Millit stated to look for are all really useful things to check out, especially the sitting in on a class.

And go with your gut at all times, this is a lot of money that you will produce once to make your dog become the dog he needs to be. Honestly I don't feel dog training classes are ever a necessity to anyone when vast information can be gained at the drop of a pin, but if you wish to go into training, I'd say research your dogs issues online, find common ways to correct it and why the person who states those ways believes they will work. Afterwards question the trainer as to how they will accomplish that task and see what kind of answer he'd give you.

If he's not willing to partake with that information, you aren't willing to partake with your cash.

February 19th, 2011, 05:06 PM
Don't sign up for anything you can't get out of.

Our policy is that you only pay for the classes as you attend, we don't make you committ to anything and if you don't like what we taught you then you don't owe us a dime. It works very well for us.

Anyone who wants buckets of money in advance, or wants to take your dog ahead of time without your presence is suspect in my book.

Methods will vary like the gamut of religions in the world. You have to find a match for your and your dog. Sometimes you even end up learning from different sources and create your own way of doing things.

February 19th, 2011, 05:08 PM
Maybe this can help...

This is your personal guide through the process of questions to ask when hiring a dog trainer. Too often people are just looking for the best deal but they may not be getting the best help and just end up spending more money later on other trainers because their problems weren't solved with the first one. You should ask questions like...

Do they do group classes and/or privates?
What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

What is their methodology?
□ Click & Treat? □ Pinch Collars? □ Shock/e-collars?
□ Choke chains? □ Halter collars? □ Treat based? □ Natural?
What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

Do they require that you sign up for a set number of classes? □ Yes □ No
Or are they pay as you go? □ Yes □ No
Or do you pay a fixed sum up front for a lifetime guarantee? □ Yes □ No

What if I donít like the classes/trainer can I get my money back? □ Yes □ No

What does the trainer specialize in?
□ Family dog manners? □ Aggression? □ Competition?
□ Agility? □ Protection? □ Therapy dog?
□ Problem behaviors like Separation Anxiety? □ or everything?

What is the cost?
Is there a guarantee? □ Yes □ No

Where are the classes held?
□ At trainers location □ At my home □ In a park
What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

Can I get help in between classes? □ Yes □ No

What is covered in each class?

How long have they been training dogs? Business & trainer

How many classes does it take to get results?

Are you present for the training?

Do they train the dog or the person?

February 20th, 2011, 10:00 AM
What kind of training? It's quite common to send the dog away for weeks to months for hunt test or field trial training.

If you mean obedience then I like to see membership in It's not an absolute requirement for me but if you are new to dog training it gives you at least some assurance the trainer has taken some courses and is upheld to a standard by their membership in the association.

I suggest you research a bit first and ask questions. Does the trainer employ Premack Principle? What do they think about Classical and Operant Conditioning? Of course you will have to have a basic knowledge yourself or they can "snow" you. I always find knowing at least a bit yourself helps weed out less qualified trainers.

The list above is great. I always preview a class before I take it with a new instructor. Sometimes my dog is with me, sometimes not, but no one has demanded I pay before seeing if the training is going to work for me/us. Except one person nearby who, unbelievably, charges for someone to even come and watch one of her classes. I don't know how she manages that since it is easy to sit in your car on the public road and watch her agility classes. Which I haven't done, but still. :shrug: