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Pick Your Perfect Trainer

Unless your little buddy Ben was born a model of perfect canine behavior, chances are you will need a dog trainer. It’s best not to simply point your finger at a listing in the phone book or choose the trainer at the top of your Google search. There are plenty of great trainers out there, but also plenty of bad ones. If you want the best for little Ben and you, take the time to make a proper choice.

When choosing a dog trainer, you will need to consider several things. Some of the aspects of a trainer that you will be looking at will be personalized for you and Ben. But, there are also some traits in a trainer that everyone should be looking out for.

Training Techniques
There are a lot of different techniques that dog trainers can use to work with dogs. Before you pick a trainer for your little guy, be sure you understand what those are. There is plenty of controversy, debate, and discussion to go along with all the different training methods. Education yourself so that you can choose a trainer whose style matches what you want for Ben.

Dog trainers are often certified by a training or behavioral organization. There are many different such organizations that promote and use different certification requirements, instruction, and training techniques. You will have to do your homework here as well to decide if certification is important to you and if so, which organization best represents what you are looking for in a trainer.

Sometimes the best recommendation for a trainer is a set of good references. In fact, never hire a trainer unless they can provide some of these. A certification is not necessarily needed to be a great trainer. If you can talk to previous clients who sing the praises of the trainer you are considering, that bodes very well for you and Ben.

Trainer or Behaviorist?
A dog trainer and a dog behaviorist is not the same thing. But, beware. Many trainers use behaviorist or behavior specialist to describe themselves and it may not be true. A behaviorist is someone with specialized, advanced training, such as a graduate degree in animal behavior. A good trainer can correct a lot of bad behaviors, but only a specialist can really diagnose and treat serious behavior issues. You need to decide which Ben needs. Does he have a few annoying habits or does he have some deep-seated emotional issues?

Specialized Training
If you are just looking to get some basic manners for Ben, there are lots of trainers who will be able to help you. If you are thinking about challenging him a bit more and maybe seeing how talented he is, you will want to find a trainer who has experience with more specialized training. Perhaps Ben is destined to become an obedience expert, a star agility dog, or a caring service dog. Ask your potential trainer if they have experience with any of these specialties.

Will the Trainer Train You?
This may be the most important question you ask during your trainer interviews. Having a trainer teach Ben to sit, come, and stay is utterly useless if they don’t teach you how to command and instruct him as well. A good dog trainer trains owners as much as, if not more so than the dog. If a trainer insists on doing lessons without you, a big old red flag has been raised. Walk away.

Training Ben should be a positive experience for the both of you. You want a happy, well-behaved dog, and he wants nothing more than to please you. With the right trainer that works for and with the both of you, you will be able to achieve obedience bliss together.