How To Choose a Good Trainer

Hiring a Dog Trainer

Dogs, like people, respond better to positive techniques and tools that reinforce proper behavior. 

When looking for a new trainer, it’s important to ensure that they never use aversive training techniques or equipment on your dog. Always ask what happens when your dog does not respond as desired.

Make sure your dog trainer...

  • uses positive reinforcement training, rewarding the dog for appropriate behavior and teaching alternative behaviors in place of inappropriate ones
  • has some form certification and experience, or educational background in dog training (ask when they last attended a continuing education course)
  • belongs to an professional association or established organization 
  • offers follow-up after training is completed
  • has a referral list of happy clients and dogs
  • makes training fun for you and your dog
  • allows you to watch all parts of the training process
  • can explain the positive reinforcement training process
  • has a training plan, or creates one with you
  • teaches you as much as they teach the dog

Red flags to watch out for...

  • guarantees success or a certain outcome 
  • does not allow owner to visit or be present during training 
  • does not allow treats 
  • recommends aversive tools, which are designed to inflict pain or discomfort, such as prong or shock collars 
  • blames owner by saying you’re the problem, it’s your fault, or that you caused the problem
  • says that they use punishment to teach a behavior
  • uses authoritarian mentality to achieve goals, which might including citing the need to be “pack leader”
  • does not work closely with the owner to achieve owner’s goals 
  • offers a 2-3 week program to “fix the dog”
  • engages in leash jerking and negative talk to the dog

Have questions?

Our Veterinary Behaviorists, trainers, and support team are here to provide
expert guidance for any behavior question or issue you may be facing.

Contact us at behaviorinfo@sfspca.org or at 415-554-3074 to arrange your consultation or to get answers to your questions.

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