considering becoming one yourself, you must consider several key factors. When finding a dog trainer, you must know
what to look for, the basics of certification and licensing, the types of training, and how one becomes a trainer.
When looking at dog trainers, consider the following:
Experience- Be sure the trainer you choose has experience dealing with not only a wide variety of behavioral issues,
but also your breed, specifically. Different breeds require different training styles. While positive reinforcement
will work for every breed, for example, some more independent breeds, like spaniels or terriers, will need more
reinforcement and training time. A trainer who has worked with various breeds, will be able to work with certain
Methods- Read up on the various methods of training. The 3 major categories are jerk and pull, positive
reinforcement, and a subsidiary, clicker training. Rally-O is labeled under positive reinforcement. Make sure you
are comfortable with the way your dog will be trained. If you do not plan on going to the training sessions, make
sure you observe one before you send your dog.
Recommendations- Word of mouth is the best way to get information on a trainer. Ask your local veterinarians,
groomers, and boarding services to recommend a trainer. Ask acquaintances and co-workers what their experiences have
been. Finally, ask the trainer herself to give you referrals.
Location- Do you need a trainer to come to your home? Would you rather send your dog off to a "camp"? Do you want to
enroll in a class? Consider these questions and find a trainer that meets your expectations. Also consider where
your doggy will be trained. Is the middle of a store similar to the dog's natural living arrangements?
Flexibility- Is this trainer willing to meet you and your dog beforehand? Is she willing to work with you one on one
with any problem dog behaviors? Will she tailor sessions around your schedule?
Cost- Be sure the trainer is in your budget. Training can be quite expensive, but can range significantly. The best
value usually comes in bulk sessions. Paying for them one at a time can get expensive.
There are no required licenses or accreditations for dog trainers. The AKC recognizes many trainers as Canine Good
Citizen Licensed, and there are organizations, like unions, for dog trainers. Trainers can also become licensed and
bonded business professionals, but there is no license required for training dogs. Again, the best way to check for
professionalism is to ask for referrals.
Their are numerous ways someone can become a dog trainer. Their are schools, programs, and colleges for trainers.
These all require course work and hands-on training. Few modern day trainers, however, have participated in any
The most popular way to become a trainer is to become an apprentice. Find a local trainer that meets all of the
above criteria and is willing to take on a student. Start with some necessary reading like, "Don't Shoot The Dog"
and books that teach background, psychology, and methods.
After you have digested the basic concepts, start watching classes. Gradually, your trainer will ask you to assist
and you will gain knowledge little by little. It may take longer to learn dog socialization and aggression
techniques. A good trainer takes her time and has a lot of experience before she goes out on her own.
No matter whether you are searching for a trainer, or interested in becoming one yourself, do your homework. Know
what to look for, the types of training, and how your trainer works. This checklist will ensure you get what you
want out of the experience.