Training and Boarding

Guidelines on selecting a dog trainer

How To Select A Dog Trainer


Determine your goals


Are you looking to improve your dog’s obedience skills?  To improve its socialization among people or other pets?  To control some of its bad habits?  To enter it in shows or professional competitions against other highly trained dogs?

A clear understanding of your goals will help you select the right dog trainer.


Find a trainer


Ask your veterinarian for referrals for dog training. Vets see many well-behaved dogs.  Ask owners of well-mannered dogs where they received their dog training.  If you attend dog shows or obedience trials talk to the award-winning trainers.


Ask questions!


Training methods:  Talk with the dog trainers you are considering.  Discuss your goals, ask about their training methods and about a realistic time frame to achieve the results you desire. 


Facility:   Evaluate the training facility if you can.  Is it dedicated to dog training, with no outside distractions?  Is it roomy and large enough for your dog to move about freely? Is it comfortable for both owners and dogs?  Does it have the necessary equipment and training aids?


Common goals:  Is the trainer willing to dedicate the time needed to accomplish your goals? Not all dogs and owners can be trained to the same performance standard in the same length of time. Look for dog trainers who offer to make time for students who need extra attention.  Avoid large group training, where you will have little one-on-one time with the instructor, and will only get frustrated.


Evaluate  the trainer’s experience


How long has the trainer been teaching?  Be wary of new trainers who claim to have more experience than they actually have. Have they won training awards and decorations from prominent organizations? or are they only claiming to be "in training" to try to win these awards. Have they trained students to high levels of competitive success?  Ask about failures as well as successes.


If you have a specific problem with your dog, ask trainers how much experience they have had with this problem. Ask if they have experience with your breed, and if the problem you are facing is typical and familiar to them.


Where possible observe the dog trainer with other dogs before enrolling. Are lessons orderly and enjoyable? Are students struggling with their dogs without getting help? Does the dog trainer use assistants to manage large classes? How does the dog trainer interact with the dogs? Is the treatment too rough? Does the dog trainer genuinely enjoy dogs? Do the dogs enjoy the trainer? How does the dog trainer's own dog relate to the instructor? Would you be proud to have a dog that behaved like the trainer's dog?  If a dog trainer won't allow you to observe them, look elsewhere.  


The truth about certification credentials


There is currently no government-regulated licensing required for dog trainers.  It is up to you to find a quality trainer, and avoid the less-competent ones who can cause more harm than good. 


In the absence of licensing, each trainer is responsible for obtaining the best initial schooling possible, and maintaining up-to-date methods through ongoing education programs.  A professional trainer takes this responsibility very seriously.  


Unfortunately, some people declare themselves to be trainers with minimal or no training whatsoever.  Claiming to be a Canine Good Citizen evaluator does not denote actual training experience. Anybody can pay the fee and become an evaluator. The same as Therapy Dog Certifications, minimal training and a fee is all that's required. Certain facilities may advertise “certified” trainers but in reality simply issue the “certificates” themselves after minimal instruction.  Don’t get taken!  Here are some ways to discern a professional trainer from a wanna-be!


·         Has the dog trainer received any type of professional education, including schooling, seminars, and conferences? How are they continuing their education in the canine profession? Have they received certification from any specialized dog training school, dog training program, or organization?


·         Is the dog trainer a member of a Professional Trainers organization such as The International Association of Canine Professionals or National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors? Keeping in mind that while these organizations are trying to increase industry standards they still have very basic admission requirements.


·         Is the trainer a member of a dedicated, well-established training business with a history of success, including awards on a local and national level?


·         Does the trainer have a resume including education, experience, accomplishments and awards?


·         Is dog training just a hobby for them?  Or is it their profession? Are they claiming to have dogs "in-training" for Schutzhund and the like or have they actually accomplished something with their own personal dogs.


A professional trainer is worth finding!


Once you have found a professional, realize that dog training methods vary among the professional dog training community. Call or visit your local dog trainers, ask them about their dog training theory, tools, and methods to help determine which would work best for you. Keep in mind that many dog trainers have flexible programs which can be tailored to your needs. Others have specific areas which they specialize in. Speaking with them and asking good questions is the best way to determine if they are the right trainers for you and your dog.

A professional trainer is just that "professional" be wary of individuals with little to no experience. The proof is in the pudding, a true professional has many accomplishment already to their name.



 Some dog trainers offer guarantees for their work. Be sure you understand what their guarantee implies. Dog trainers stake their reputation on the satisfaction of their clients, and some make great efforts to assist them in reaching their dog training goals. Remember, the level of training a dog attains depends greatly on an owner’s or handler’s contribution and not on the instruction of a dog trainer alone.