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How to Find The Right Pet Trainer For You

As owners and lovers of dogs, we want our furry friends to grow up and learn, taking in as much knowledge as possible. However, there is a particular dynamic that must be preserved in any relationship between a pet and its owner: one is the authority figure. This makes dog training especially important as it teaches the dog to regard the owner’s instructions with obedience and comprehension.

Like a young child, a dog’s behavior and responsiveness must be taught and molded. While people have been training domesticated animals for centuries, dog training has evolved over the years quite a bit. Most owners, specifically those who are acquiring young pets for the first time, may not be adequately prepared or versed in the right pet training techniques.

Luckily, some people train pets professionally, helping them become well-behaved and well-adjusted members of families. This is wonderful news for those who may not have the necessary skills in training, but could also bring about concerns about how to choose a trainer for their pet. It should not be surprising that trainers are not a monolithic breed. Each has his or her own style, methodology, and runs their training regimen in slightly or vastly different ways from others.

However, as this industry is unregulated, theoretically anyone can claim to be a professional trainer. If you want to, you can print some business cards, slap together a basic website, and open a dog training business tomorrow, and no one could prove that you are not an experienced craftsman without adequate training skill sets. This can make choosing a trainer a concerning matter for dog owners.

But if you know what to look for and what questions to ask, it is not very difficult to distinguish hacks from true dog-training professionals. You may even be seeking training for different types of aspects of your pet’s behavior. If you are wondering how to find the right pet trainer for you, here are some helpful methods to find out.

What Do You Hope To Achieve With Your Training?

To determine the right trainer for your pet, you must first identify what you are looking for from the training. You might be looking to teach a young dog basic commands. Perhaps there is a negative behavior that you want your dog to unlearn. It may even be that you believe your dog is ready to advance to some more complicated skills. As different trainers have specialties in different areas, it helps to first identify a trainer by their particular training strength.

Background Inquiries

When we send children to school, we are assured that teachers have earned their place in the education realm of the appropriate grade levels they are responsible for educating. Similarly, with training, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for the trainer’s background, and even request to see any credentials they have. You can also ask if they were self-taught, if they apprenticed with other reputable dog trainers, or if they underwent formal training in the area.


Unless you are the trainer’s first client, chances are that others have had experiences with this trainer before you, and might have shared their opinions. Regardless of the trainer, their experiences might have ranged from great to poor. Think of it as looking at a review for a movie. No one can tell what you will think of it, because no one knows what you like, but if the film has 20 reviews, and 18 of them are exceptional, chances are you will probably not hate it. Similarly, regarding the ratio of (quality) reviews when seeking a trainer. Past clients who are happy with the trainer will be specific in the things they loved about this person, as will those who did not have a positive experience.

Training Environment

Every pet is different. Some learn better when attention is privately dedicated to them, while others are fine with more social environments. Training new puppies sometimes work better in groups as the comradery engages some dogs to repeat the behaviors of others. For dogs with behavioral issues, private sessions are typically best. Neither technique is necessarily superior, but the choice depends on your preference and your pet’s needs.

Training Philosophy

One of the most important aspects to consider is how a trainer approaches their craft. Dogs respond best when their good behavior is rewarded with treats or reassurances and compliments. As they are eager to please people, once they understand what makes a person happy, they want to repeat that behavior, and an especially effective technique to get them to acquire this sense is via positive reinforcement. You might be surprised to find out that some dog trainers do not subscribe to this philosophy. However, how well your dog learns positive behaviors or unlearns negative ones can hinge on the trainers’ approach, so whatever methodology the trainer uses, just be sure you are comfortable with that. If you are not sure, ask if you can observe a training course to see the dynamic of the interaction with your pet.

Observe The Trainer In Action

Going along the lines of observing a class a trainer conducts with your dog, you can also “audit” another instructional class to see how the owner deals with others’ pets. This could prove very valuable in figuring out if you think the person genuinely loves animals, helping them train, and interacting with them effectively. Because dogs view the world in a much different way than we do, the approach they take bares maximum impact. Therefore getting a sense of the trainer understanding what you want out of the training and what dogs need to learn are crucial to your decision.


There are many great pet trainers out there, but as it is your pet they will be training it is important to consider their approach and training philosophy, as well as verify their qualifications. You may even find that you like a certain training philosophy more than others, which can gravitate you to a particular brand of trainer. In either case, paramount to everything else would be a benefit to your pet.