What to consider when selecting a dog trainer/training class

When looking to select a trainer/training class for your dog it is important to know what you are looking for and have clear objectives in mind for what you hope to achieve.

One of the most important pieces of advice I give to people when they ask me what to look for in a trainer is their training philosophy. I recommend that you only give your hard earned cash to non aversive/positive trainers. Ask the trainer what methods they employ and who they learned from. The emphasis should always be on reinforcing correct and appropriate behaviours through the use of toys, play, food rewards and life rewards. Another good indicator of being a trainer you should go with is who they learned from. People such as Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Karen Pryor, John Rogerson, Patricia McConnell and Ken Ramirez have nbeen hugely influential in the field of positive training. In the popular TV series “It’s Me or The Dog”, Victoria Stillwell uses non aversive training, so if you’ve seen this show, then you will have an indication of the methods which are kind, effective and build a relationship of mutual trust and respect between you and your dog.

Avoid trainers who talk of dominance, pack theory, rank reduction and alpha terminology. This stuff has been hugely misapplied and misinterpreted since it was first coined in the early 1970s by wolf scientist David Mech, who has recently clarified his viewpoint on this thinking.

Do not go with trainers who use prong collars, electric collars (e-collars), choke/check chains, rattle cans, water pistols to spray water at the dog, pet correctors or who advise “alpha” rolling, scruffing or hitting. A good rule of thumb is don’t let your trainer do or advise you to do anything any reasonable person wouldn’t do to an infant or small child. Don’t go with trainers who say they use methods similar to or have learned from Cesar Millan

I will do a subsequent entry on the failings and flaws of pack theory and comparing dogs to wolves.

As always, please comment/discuss the above. I look forward to your feedback

One thought on “What to consider when selecting a dog trainer/training class

  1. That is true, I went to a trainer that has wrong dominance beliefs plus using choke collars and prong, and after some time, I gave up on the classes. I don’t dramatize nor deny the nature/effectiveness of corrections, but I can say that a lot of the corrections can be unnecessary, and that this kind of trainers can often miss the real reasons behind problematic behaviors and therefore miss the real way to cure the real issue. Just imagine if we often just blame it all to dominance, how can we see what is the real underlying issue that causes a behavior? And if we can’t point out the real issue, then how can we deal with it? If we blame it all to dominance, we might not see that a dog’s bad behaviors can actually be motivated by fear, insecurity, or even simply lack of learning manners. And then we might just focus on repressing everything, in the name of dominating.

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