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Selecting a dog trainer

  • Look for trainers who rely on teaching methods that use positive reinforcement for good behavior rather than punishment for unacceptable behavior.
  • Observe an obedience class without your dog. Are the dogs and people having a good time? Talk with a few participants and see if they are comfortable with the trainer’s methods. If someone won’t let you sit in, don’t enroll.
  • Don’t allow trainers to work your dog unless they tell you first exactly what they plan to do.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell a trainer to stop if s/he is doing something to your dog you don’t like.
  • If a trainer tells you to do something that you don’t feel good about, don’t do it! Don’t be intimidated, bullied or shamed into doing something that you believe is not in your dog’s best interest.
  • Avoid trainers who offer guarantees about results. That trainer is either ignoring or doesn’t understand the complexity of animal behavior.
  • Avoid trainers who object to using food as a training reward. Food is an acceptable positive reinforcement training tool.
  • Avoid trainers who won’t let you use any training collar other than a choke chain or pinch collar. Head collars are humane alternatives to choke chains and pinch collars.
  • Look for trainers who treat both people and dogs with respect, rather than an “I’m the boss” attitude.
  • And last, but certainly not least, have fun while training your pet!

Reprinted by the Animal Humane Society with permission from the American Humane Association and Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D.