8 Tips for Choosing a Dog Trainer in Houston
Dog training is a popular and unregulated industry, and unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. There are dozens of dog trainers in Houston, Texas alone, so how do you choose? Here are 8 considerations to ensure you hire the best possible candidate for you and your dog!
1. Training Style –
Dog training is all about teaching the owner how they can effectively communicate with their dog to achieve a happy and healthy life together. Your trainer should be able to clearly articulate how they can help you achieve this goal! Questions to ask a potential trainer:
- What is your expectation of owner involvement?
- How and why rewards and punishments will be used?
- How much progress should I expect?
Techniques that utilize force and intimidation should be avoided, as they are unnecessary and are often the mark of an inexperienced trainer. Ethical trainers will focus on teaching appropriate behaviors and establishing healthy boundaries over aversive methods to achieve training goals with you.
2. Experience –
How long a trainer has been professionally training matters. You are not just paying for the time you spend working with a trainer. You’re paying for the books they have read, mentors they have studied under, each and every dog they have learned from, unique situations they have worked through, their years of practical application, and the mistakes they have learned from to help you avoid making the same ones.
Typically trainers with 1-3 years of experience are good, trainers with 3-5 years of experience are better, and trainers with 5-10 years of experience are best. Someone with more than 10 years of experience is likely highly specialized and an expert in the industry. Although longevity matters, continuing education is essential.
3. Continuing Education –
Is your trainer investing in their continuing education by staying up to date with current ethical practices? Dog training is a fluid, scientific field that is constantly being updated. If your trainer is not regularly attending seminars and conferences they likely are not providing you with the most modern, ethical, and humane training practices. Through continuing education, trainers will have earned titles and certifications.
4. Credentials –
Dog training is an unregulated industry, and the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is the only independent certifying body. Most professional trainers will have taken and passed an examination of general training knowledge and earned the designation of Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).
Trainers that have earned this designation have also committed to practicing modern, ethical, and humane training techniques. In addition to professional certifications, your trainer should have titles and awards in their specialty competing with their own dogs.
5. Specialty –
Does your trainer specialize in what you need? Dog training is a multifaceted profession, so inquire about your trainer’s specialty. Here are some specialized fields of dog training:
- Performance Sports
- Behavior Modification
As for trainers that specialize in behavior, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) is a group dedicated to recognizing and certifying trainers with experience appropriate for behavior modification. Certified Dog Behavior Consultants (CDBC) are more qualified to address aggression, fear, anxiety, and other severe behaviors.
6. Transparency –
You should be able to research your trainer before committing to anything. Are you able to tour the facility or site, ask questions about the training, or observe a class? If your dog is in a board and train or day training program, are there written or photo updates? Is the website clear on what is included in the training? Are you able to schedule a consultation? Ask questions until you are completely comfortable with the training program you are investing in.
7. Reviews and Referrals –
In addition to checking online reviews through Google and Yelp, ask your local vet about trainers or training facilities they recommend. Veterinary clinics will have good relationships with experienced trainers in their area and will have unbiased feedback from other dog owners.
8. Personality –
You must be able to trust and respect your trainer! Trainers often need to know a lot about your personal life in order to create customized training plans, be able to coach you through potentially difficult situations and provide honest feedback about your dog. It is especially important to feel comfortable with your trainer if you are enrolling in a board and train or day train program. Your dog cannot tell you if they had an unpleasant experience, so you have to rely on the trainer to be an honest and effective communicator. Be comfortable with your trainer before trusting your dog with them!
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
Ready to hire an awesome dog trainer? Contact our team at Peace Love Dogs to get started.