1. Do your research! Research, research, research! Inform yourself about various dog training philosophies and the multitude of techniques that different trainers implement into their programs. Decide which method you believe will work best for you and your pup. Does the trainer you are researching reward correct behaviors, correct wrong behaviors, or a combination of both? Does this trainer have experience working with your dog’s breed and the specific behavioral issues your dog is exhibiting? How does the trainer plan to address these issues? Don’t hesitate to ask questions! Your potential trainer should be eager to explain their philosophy and personal training style to you.
2. Read the reviews. What was the experience of previous clients? Were they satisfied with the results they received? Were their expectations met? Were clients able to contact the trainers after the program was completed to receive further assistance as needed? Were the trainers prompt and responsive to client questions or concerns?
3. Be wary of any trainer who promises to “fix” your dog. Generally, trainers who claim they can “fix” your pup are simply setting you and your dog up for failure. They are instilling a false sense of hope with the implication that they hold some rare magic cure to rid your dog of all behavioral issues. Many clients hear these promises and begin to envision a blissful future where their fearful, anxious pup is suddenly frolicking and playing with other pups by the end of a four-week training program. Training does not end when a training program is completed. A brief Bootcamp Program will not deliver you an entirely new dog. It is up to you, as a dog owner, to reinforce the learning that has taken place throughout the program by implementing the training techniques in a consistent manner even after the trainer is gone. Trainers do NOT “fix” dogs. Those who make such promises are unable to meet their clients’ expectations. Thus, their clients experience extreme disappointment in their training experience and, in turn, communicate that frustration to their pup. No trainer is lucky enough to hold the magic cure that “fixes” dogs. Trainers DO, however, help raise their ceilings by pushing the pups to expand upon their comfort zones little by little. This is an important concept for all clients to grasp before looking to hire a dog trainer. Training is a life-long commitment between you and your pup. As trainers, we are here to assist you every step of the way as you help your dog transform into the calm and confident pup you know he/she can be! Yet, we also want you to have realistic expectations for your dog and his/her progress throughout training process. This allows you to celebrate in the small successes along the way and enjoy the training experience as a whole!
4. Get involved! Since no trainer can magically “fix” your pup, you must be prepared to take the plunge and get hands-on with your dog’s training! Does the trainer you are researching plan to include you in the training process? Will you be equipped with the knowledge and tools that allow you to continue training your dog once the program has completed? These are important questions to consider when looking for a dog trainer. You want your dog to view you as a leader and as a person they can rely upon. If you are calm and confident in your leadership, your dog will realize that he/she can be calm and confident as well. It is not effective to invest in a dog trainer who will teach your dog to obey him/her but not show you how to command the same respect from your furry companion. After all, you are the one who needs to be able to live harmoniously with your pup! You want a trainer who will help strengthen the relationship you have with your dog and, furthermore, help you feel confident in your knowledge and ability to handle every new or unfamiliar situation you may encounter.
5. Cost Effectiveness – Are the prices of the trainer competitive to those of other trainers in the area? What does the price guarantee you? Are you guaranteed results? How long will it take for you to start to see those results? Does the trainer charge a monthly or hourly fee? Will they charge you for additional sessions if client expectations are not met? What if the session extends beyond its scheduled time? Ultimately, we receive many clients who have invested large sums of money into multiple trainers and have yet to witness satisfactory results. For this very reason, it is important to research your trainer and consider how effectively your money is being spent. Is it worth it to invest more into a trainer who does guarantee their results so you won’t find yourself needing another trainer in the future? Find the trainer who will support you long-term and who truly prioritizes your dog’s success and well-being.