After years of training dogs it is always great when in that first meeting with a new client we are told "We did lots of research before choosing a trainer".
So, what kind of research should you do in order to find the trainer who is right for you and your dog? Bearing in mind that you are allowing a complete stranger into your life & home in order to teach you & your dog. How they train is going to affect you & your dog's relationship & future together. Below is a list of points to consider:
•What exactly is the trainer's background? Are they happy to go into detail regarding their history & experience?
•How long have they been training dogs for? You are likely paying a considerable amount of money and require appropriate results very quickly. Some clients over the years have subsequently discovered that the trainer they hired has very little experience i.e. in some cases, a matter of months. Others have discovered that their trainer had no previous experience prior to joining an international franchise. Others have worked as part time trainers outside of their day to day occupation. As a very experienced trainer (Mark Singer - Aus) recently stated "A professional dog trainer has many years of hands on experience working with hundreds if not thousands of dogs".
•What is their background? Is it certifiable? i.e. is there a visible history going back over a reasonable period of time? (Facebook, website, etc). Are they backed up by and recommended by their former employer, association or mentor? After all you are paying for experience.
•How & where did the trainer learn their trade & over what period of time? Do they have years of hands on experience rather than having attended a course or learnt online. Do they actually have a service to provide?
•Has that trainer got a proven record regarding getting long term results with difficult, aggressive & dominant dogs? Do they show confidence around such dogs?
•What methods & philosophy does that trainer employ? Do they follow one particular discipline or are they able to offer balanced alternatives? Trainers who utilise "Positive only" methods tend to work within tight parameters which in turn limits their skill set considerably.
•Do they believe in training for food rewards? Lots of our clients come to us because we choose not to. We believe that "Treat training" is not necessary. We constantly re-train dogs who have been trained utilising this particular method.
•Dogs invariably work for praise. In which case why use food when there is no need to? Additionally why complicate matters further by using other gimmicks such as "Clickers" which serve to complicate matters further ( Dogs do not use treats or clickers themselves!). We see lots of dogs who are not driven by food or who are unhealthily overweight or who blatantly respect food more than their owner & who will not perform a drop, stay or recall command without the reward of food. Unfortunately there are some trainers who believe that the dog should "work" for food. They dictate that the only time a dog should be fed is by earning food during training sessions! Your dog deserves to enjoy a whole meal in the same way that we do!
•Is the trainer in the business of training rather than marketing? In recent times plenty of trainers have popped up online spruiking themselves as experts. Lots of them borrow buzzwords & methods that make them appear modern & up to date. They talk the talk but can they really get results?
•How much advertising do they do? A good trainer will not have to advertise very much as their history & results will speak volumes.
•How quickly can they book you in for a lesson? Most good trainers are constantly booked out weeks in advance. Another sure sign that they have a history of getting results. A good thing is worth waiting for!
•When checking a trainer's online presence: Are there photographs of the actual trainer present? Do they even identify themself by name? Are there photos or videos of the trainer actually working with dogs other than their own?
•Do they present themselves in a professional manner? i.e. How they dress, communicate, interact with both you & other people & dogs in public areas.
•Are you required to pay in advance before you see results? How do you know what the results will be? Sending your dog away to "Bootcamp" for instance is not a guarantee that you will have a better relationship with a dog who has been trained by someone else! We speak from experience!
•Is that trainer insured? Do they have public liability insurance in case things go wrong and someone makes a claim of wrongdoing?
Remember that the best form of advertising is word of mouth! We are lucky that this is the main route by which we obtain new clients. Over 25 years of training dogs has ensured that we are kept constantly busy offering a unique personalised service which obtains the desired results. Our many online testimonials bear this out.
We train lots of dogs that have been to other trainers, clubs, associations, behaviourists, etc. Some owners have been told to have their dog put to sleep, medicated, re-homed, kept away from other dogs & people, etc. In most instances we have proven that advice to be wrong in a very short period of time.
As with any other service - you are paying for results. Please ensure that the person whom you select to train you & your dog has the experience, knowledge & dedication to achieve that.