You have made the difficult decision to seek help from a professional for your dog’s behaviour.

You may choose to use google, FB, recommendations, or speak to other dog owners at the park. But how do you know who to choose, who will not only have the knowledge, qualifications, and experience but also promote reward-based training and never use punitive methods of training?

People always understand what punishment involves in dog training, some choose to ignore it, and some may recommend a trainer with the best intentions, unaware that the methods are cruel and unnecessary.

Recently I have been involved with 2 clients using prong collars because they were advised by the same dog trainer to help them handle their dog’s reactivity. Neither understood how painful these can be and how they adversely affect their dog’s behaviour, actually increasing the chance of aggression and not reducing it.

They trusted the trainer’s advice. This was a training business, seen often on social media, and has a huge following. And recommended often. This is why relying solely on recommendations is not always the best way forward. You need to look into the business yourself. They both were able to ditch these and train their dogs using kind, force-free methods.

Do they promise results? Do you see videos of dogs looking scared or frightened? Are the dogs put into situations that create a negative response? Are the dogs wearing punishment equipment, prongs, e-collars, or maybe a nose halti? Are they being tugged about and shouted at?

You should be able to contact them and speak to them about your dog’s behaviour. Your dog should never be placed in a situation that triggers an adverse response.

Although a cheap dog trainer may seem an ideal solution, often they lack the experience and quality training. The best dog training and behaviour education cost money, if they have done an online dog training or behaviour course for a few weeks it is likely that they lack the knowledge and skill to effectively manage behaviour and will probably turn to punishment to train dogs. I have seen this a lot. But I also know of expensive dog trainers with no accreditation, so you need to do your own diligence.

Most good trainers continually carry out CPD to keep in touch with the most up-to-date methods, this costs us money, but the benefit to you and your dogs is priceless.

Are they a member of a professional body? Were they assessed by this body? A lot of bodies you can pay to join, but there are only a few that do an assessment to actually test people. ABTC, APDT, IMDT, and PACT assess their members. You will find a list of approved trainers on their websites.

It can be difficult to know what’s best

  • Check the website – do they say they don’t use food? (avoid them) they should not only say force free but also prove that they understand what this means
  • Look at the pictures on social media. Do you see added equipment? Nose halti? Muzzles? This could indicate the absence of reward-based training.
  • Ask about their qualifications, if it’s not a degree, what levels were the course? Is it Ofqual-approved? How long was it? Have they just done this course? I have done 4 behaviour and 4 different dog training courses and I have learned different things in each one. Just one would not have given me the knowledge that I have today.
  • Are they insured?
  • Do they as about vet checks, diet, lifestyle, behaviour, upbringing, early experiences, rest periods, sleep, mental stimulation, and exercise?
  • Do they offer a free call to discuss your issues?
  • If they advise the use of prongs, e-collars, and head collars as a matter of course, then avoid them and find a trainer who solely uses reinforcement training.

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