Archive for October, 2009


By Dr. Jan Bellows

When you need to obedience or trick train your pet, finding a good dog trainer is a great way to make sure that you raise a well behaved dog. There are some fantastic dog trainers across the country that have a great deal of experience teaching dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments how to perform interesting behaviors and maintain good obedience to their owner. But to be a dog trainer, you do not necessarily need some type of advanced education – which means that two individuals with the same credentials can vary vastly in how qualified they are to be chosen as your dog trainer.

Most dog trainers these days recognize how to train canines correctly, as there is a wealth of information available about proper training methods. Dog training is one of the most understood sciences available in the world today. But there are still some dog trainers that are under-qualified and misinformed about how to dog train correctly, and these are the trainers you need to do your best to avoid. If you meet a dog trainer that supports any of the following, that is likely a dog trainer you would like to avoid:

  • Punishment Training – Any dog trainer that believes physical punishment is a successful way to train dogs is vastly misinformed and a trainer that you should avoid. It is a well researched facts that dog learn considerably better through positive reinforcement than they do from positive punishment, and a trainer that does not acknowledge this difference is not an effective trainer.
  • Trainer-led Training – Dog trainers are not there to take your dog from you and bring them back to you as a well behaved animal. On the contrary, the only effective way to dog train is if you, yourself, are the trainer, and the dog trainer’s purpose is to coach you on how to train your dog effectively. Dogs that learn solely from a trainer are still unlikely to take those behaviors home with you, making the entire training irrelevant.
  • Trainers that Believe in Pet Equality – It is healthier for you and your pet if you establish yourself as alpha in the pack. Any trainer that believes you should treat your dog like an equal member of the family is vastly misinformed. Dogs need a “place” in the pack – there is no such thing as equality in the dog world. A dog that is confused about its place in the pack will exhibit poor behaviors and possibly suffer from increased stress.

If you notice any of these three beliefs from your prospective trainer, you will want to avoid them. Dog behaviors are extremely well studied and understood. There are very few things that have not been researched about dog training and dog behavior effectiveness. As behavioral creatures, what works and what doesn’t work has been extremely well established, and a trainer that deviates from the norm is doing so recklessly, because when it comes to what works best with your pet, there is very little that is not known.

The best thing for you to do is look for references from other people that have had their pets trained. Dog trainers that have successfully trained your friend’s pets are likely provide the same level of efficacy with yours. However, if you do not know anyone that has a reputable dog trainer available that you can work with, use the above criteria to weed out the pool, and carefully monitor the way that your trainer suggests training methods to ensure that you are using someone that knows what they are doing.