Choosing a Trainer?

There always seems to be great debates going about clients choosing a trainer and program for their dog.  I will say this…. there is no perfect method or perfect trainer.

To me training is about always being open to new methods and constantly learning about what other trainers are doing.   I have had clients come to Aim High K9 for a visit and have been very happy when we explain our training programs.  Some people will come for a visit and then say that they would like to do clicker training with their dog.  If I can I will actually recommend to them a trainer that will better suit what they are looking for.

When you are considering getting your dog trained you need to think about the goals you have for you and your dog.  Do you want a dog with some good house manners, but no time to do the training yourself?  Do you want to participate in the training with your dog.  Are you interested in group classes or do you learn better in a one on one setting?  In all of these instances you can find a trainer that can best fit your needs.  Within the realm of training you have many options.

Inboard– you leave your dog with the trainer and they train your dog.

Group lessons– you bring your dog to a group class usually 1x a week for so many weeks.

Private lessons– you work with a trainer one on one with your dog, either at a training facility or at your home.

Once you decide how you want your dog trained it is a good idea to meet with the trainer and ask them about their method for training.  Feel free to ask them how they will train your dog and what rewards and or punishments they will use.  Also ask them what they recommend for training equipment and if it will be included in the training or if you will need to purchase it.  Have the trainer explain the type of equipment they use and why.  Even the difference between using a nylon slip collar, a buckle collar, choke chain, pinch collar, gentle leader, e-collar, or martingale can sometimes be confusing if you don’t understand how they work.

There is a wide variety of training methods that trainers use.  I am not a trainer who is stuck on one single method being the only way to train a dog.  Not all dogs are the same and a good trainer will know how to adjust to your dogs specific needs.  Some trainers will train in a purely positive or motivational way.  This means they will use treats a lot and do not use any type of correction.  Other trainers will use clickers and mark behaviors and reward with treats.  Still others will take a middle of the road approach and use a combination of reward and correction. There are some trainers who exclusively use the e-collar in their training.   The only method that I as a trainer will warn people away from is a trainer who uses pure compulsion.  This means they will start out correcting the dog before teaching what they want.  When the dog performs the command the correction will stop.  Using pure compulsion is often referred to as “Old School”  and was used for a long time before motivational training came along.

If a trainer is not willing to explain their methods or give you a demonstration, then beware.  In the end you need to feel comfortable either working with the trainer or with leaving your dog with them to be trained.


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