When you bring a new dog into your home (and often before), you will look for a dog trainer to help you along the way. Whether you bring home a new puppy or a new rescue dog, your dog trainer will be the person helping you, holding your hand, providing reassurance and guidance on your journey together. That might be in class, or at home!
There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a trainer, but this is my list …
Qualifications! Not a necessity in our profession sadly, as dog training is unregulated in the UK. But, anyone taking their profession seriously will have qualifications. My qualifications are proof that someone unbiased tested me, and I am up to the job! Joining organisations that offer qualifications also gives me and other dog trainers a Code of Conduct to uphold, and means we’re willing to commit to continued development and be held responsible for the training we do. Recent qualifications also show that a trainer is willing to learn and keep testing themselves, staying up to date with the latest developments.
Achievement! Always ask what trainers have done with their own dogs? Have they had success with a variety of breeds and types of dog? If a trainer focuses on one thing, have they reached a high level in that specialist area? For example, one of the things I teach is various dog sports, but I only train people in dog sports that I have personally trained to a high level and/or competed in.
Maybe not an obvious one, but people skills! A lot of what we do is people training. You need someone who makes you feel at ease, who you can feel comfortable with, and who can teach you what you need to know. Being able to train a dog and train a person isn’t the same skill! A good dog trainer has great people skills.
Openness! It should never be a problem to go sit in on a class before you book. Go and see your prospective dog trainer in action, and see what methods of training are used, consider whether you happy with them, look at whether the training is modern and appropriate, and most importantly, does the trainer suit you and your dog?
Many people and dogs can have a lengthy relationship with their dog trainer. I have owners who have multiple dogs, and I’ve trained all of them. I have families that I might see for years; not because there are any problems or issues, but just because owners and dogs love training and learning more!
I love all the dogs I train, and I think I’m the luckiest person in the world to have such a wonderful career and be in a position to see so many people doing such a great job with their dog!