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Happy Healthy Pets™

When and How to Find a Great Dog Trainer

Dog in grass laying down intently watching person motioning down.

Many online resources are available, and by following these recommendations, you may feel comfortable training your dog on your own. But if training your dog feels like an uphill battle, stay positive. Every dog is different, and some benefit from a certified trainer’s experience and support.

Recognize when to hire a dog trainer

Pet owners hire dog trainers for many reasons. You likely appreciate the extra support a professional trainer provides because they can answer your questions, provide homework, and teach you and your pet how to communicate. The time is always right, and your reasons are always valid to enlist a professional dog trainer’s services, especially if you are feeling frustrated trying on your own to address your dog’s behavioral issues. Your dog’s unaddressed behavioral issues can worsen over time, and can potentially threaten your pet’s and others’ safety. A certified dog trainer can help your pet with behavioral issues that include:

  • Puppy obedience —The sooner your puppy begins training, the more likely they are to become confident, well-adjusted, and emotionally stable adult dogs. By working with a trainer, you and your puppy learn helpful training techniques and set the foundation for positive behavior. Puppy behavior basics include sit, stay, down, and come, and they will learn socialization, potty training, and appropriate chewing. During group training classes, you will practice new skills with your puppy while enjoying plenty of socialization opportunities with other puppies and pet parents.

  • Biting — While your puppy’s playful bites seem cute, as your dog ages, biting behavior loses its appeal. Ensure you teach your dog to bite only appropriate items—toys—and to refrain from biting the inappropriate—furniture, clothing, and people—which is especially important if you take your dog to public spaces, or have guests in your home.

  • Separation anxiety — A dog who has separation anxiety may become highly stressed and anxious when alone. Their frantic fear can lead to destructive behaviors, and will likely stress you out too.

  • Leash manners —Your dog may need some time to feel comfortable wearing a leash. Most public places require that pets be leashed, so this is an important skill for your dog to learn. If you are struggling to control your leashed dog, a trainer can help you improve their leash manners.

All dogs can benefit from professional training—no matter their age or behavioral issues. You should never feel that hiring a trainer means you have failed your pup. On the contrary, by identifying your dog’s behavioral issue and helping solve their problem through professional training, you are making the responsible choice, which will strengthen you and your dog’s bond.

Find a positive-reinforcement dog trainer

The right trainer is key to your dog’s behavior success. When researching dog trainers, look for a person who uses positive-reinforcement methods, which involve positively reinforcing—with praise and treats—good behavior while withholding attention for inappropriate behavior.

Ask about a dog trainer’s certifications

Ensure you choose a certified dog trainer with experience. Many high-quality dog training programs provide graduates with a professional certification, indicating they have the skills and training necessary to work as a professional trainer. Trainers can also have behavior consultant certifications that require additional education and experience. Certified behavior consultants focus on dogs’ behavioral disorders, such as separation anxiety, noise phobias, aggression, and resource guarding. Always ask dog trainers about their training and certifications to ensure you choose the professional who is right for you and your pet.

Get to know a potential dog trainer

While a dog trainer’s certifications are important, you should also get a feel for their personality and communication style before making a decision. A trainer is teaching you in addition to teaching your dog, and you should feel comfortable working closely with them. Patience, encouragement, respect, and a positive attitude are traits to look for in a dog trainer. In addition, ask to observe a training class, to see the trainer interact with other pets and owners, and always request client references.

If your dog runs when you tell them to stay, you may both benefit from professional behavioral training support. For help finding a dog trainer use this locator to find a professional trainer in your community. (link to Pet Resorts with dog training)

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