Selecting a Private Dog Trainer


Selecting a Private Dog Trainer

The ins and outs of hiring a dog trainer in the US


In the United States, one does not need to possess any sort of certification to legally sell their services as a private dog trainer.  This is highly unusual in this age of extreme specialization.  That being said, there are a few concerns when looking for someone's services to enlist to train your dog.  Many people become preoccupied with the paper credentials.  There is some merit in this.  You can certainly look for trainers that have professional affiliations. I, myself, am a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the Pet Sitters' Association.  There are also a multitude of certification one can obtain such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers series, or the American Kennel Club's (AKC) Canine Good Citizen evaluator status.  Sometimes receiving a temperament test or passing an exam like the Canine Good Citizen test can be extremely useful.  Not only does it provide a good basis for behavior for your pet, but it can also be useful in some cases in securing discounts on insurance, permissions for rental spaces, and accesses that might previously been denied to you and your dog, among other perks.




Beyond this, there are higher levels of education that are pertinent to dog training. You might look for someone educated in behavioral science or animal husbandry.  There is actually a relatively new push in the academic world in evolutionary anthropology to explore the relationship between humans and canines.  This field explores the canine cognitive processes on a whole new level.  I, myself, am pursuing my PhD in Homeland Security in the School of Public Service Leadership at Capella University.  One might think this not necessarily related to my work as a dog trainer, but my dissertation is actually focused on police K-9s.  Through the school's resources, I have abundantly increased my knowledge of my chosen profession.  Indeed the key is to find a someone with a mindset of education and training grounded in research.

There are many experienced dog trainers available that do not have any paper certifications.  Many are extremely capable dog handlers.  When choosing among them, you might find yourself an extremely satisfied customer.  I would advise, however, to look for one that does not apply one method to all dogs, but instead tackles your training problems from a standpoint of academic exploration. Find one that has a mind for the profession, not for the business.  Many have learned in the way of the journeyman, learning one method at some point to train dogs, and then launched into the professional world without reassessing their methods.  Medical professionals, lawyers, and most other professions must constantly be renewing their education and building their knowledge base.  I posit to you that dog training should be no different.  In the past two decades, dog training has evolved considerably.  This was spurred by the ground breaking research differentiating behavior between wolf (Canis lupis) and dog (Canis familiaris, also called Canis lupus familiaris) packs.  Previous to the 1980s, dog training was based upon dominance and has since changed to incorporate more of a leadership mindset than a domination mindset, due vastly to the ever increasing body of research knowledge.  Find a dog trainer that can show you dog training on many levels, and your understanding of how to build a relationship with your dog will be exponentially increased.

That being said, to find one such as this, you must interact with the person.  Make phone calls.  Talk to your prospective trainers.  I encourage my clients to shop around.  Because the dog trainer with the experience and the educated mindset may or may not have a series of letters after their last name to prove their claim.  The final piece of advice I would give to those searching for a dog trainer is to find someone that fits you.  If you have a family, find a trainer who likes children.  Find a trainer who explains the concepts clearly to you, who demonstrates the exercises in several manners, who is an able teacher. Find one who fits your schedule- such as offering evening lessons if you work full time. Find one who will work with your problem set.  If you want specific issues solved, do not settle for basic commands.  Find a trainer who will show you the path to behavioral resolution (albeit the path will most likely involve basic commands) and work on the issues you want to work on.  Find one you are comfortable inviting into your home.  While society today may place too much emphasis on physical appearance, there is something to be said for hiring a dog trainer who you would not be ashamed to keep company with your children or your grandmother.  Find a dog trainer from whom you receive a distinct sense of honesty.  This is paramount in all business transactions, hiring a dog trainer included.

Finally, hire someone you like.  You will end up spending time and money on this person's counsel.  It should be, at least, someone you like.

Cheers,
Sammy the Dog Trainer

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