Updated: Jun 25
Positive, Force Free, Science Based
In this day and age the fastest way to know if you should trust a trainer with your best friend's needs is to ask questions. The most important question to ask is "What dog training methods do you use?" There are a few key words to look for and a few to steer away from. The ones you want to proceed with to ask more questions are the ones that use Positive training, force free and science based. If a dog trainer says anything other then this it tends to mean they have not kept up with current dog training methods and antiquated methods can actually be harmful to your dog's development.
Many aversives have a history in dog training, these range from squirt bottles and newspapers to prong collars and shock collars. The one thing with all of these is that they have no place in dog training. Modern science tells us that they shouldn't just be phased out but readily avoided. Ask the potential trainer if they use corrections, if a dog trainer tells you that sound like like it will cause your dog pain or distress, or makes you uncomfortable you should look for another trainer. If a tool or method makes you unsure ask questions, a trainer should be willing to go over anything regarding their training and your dog openly.
Look at the content put out by the trainer, look for comprehensive articles, good videos or at least comprehensive answers to your questions. Most Certifications don't mean much in the united states since dog training is unregulated. A certification you can look for and trust is is CPDT - KA or KPA. If they mention APDT membership that means they have access to the most up to date info from other dog trainers. There are also behaviorist certifications and most behaviorists do dog training. they have certifications that you can also trust like CBCC - KA, CAAB, ACAAB. To know if a dog trainer has done their research you have to do your research on them.
Dog trainers tend to specialize and refer dogs out that have special needs. Ask what they specialize in and see if it lines up with what you need. For basics like foundational obedience or puppy classes most trainers can adequately help you. If your problems are more specific like aggression, rehomed pet anxiety or court mandated training look for people who specialize in what you need. You might also not need a trainer but a behaviorist or veterinary help.
It is important that you find a dog trainer that is knowledgeable, responsible and trust worthy. The dog training industry is unregulated so it is you will have to be vigilant when looking for professional help. We hope that the information provided here helps you choose a dog trainer.