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Finding the Right Dog Trainer (Part 1 - Education)

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Many dog owners don’t know that the Dog Training/Behaviour industry is unregulated. Anyone can start a website or social media page and call themselves a dog trainer with absolutely no experience, education, or certifications. This is why there is so much conflicting information out there being thrown at pet owners every day.

Dog owners get unsolicited advice from strangers about everything from vet care, nutrition, training, and more. This is why it’s important to get your information from credible sources. How can you know who to trust if there is no oversight in the industry?

In this three-part series, we will go over some of the things you can look for, starting with finding an educated trainer.

In many professions there is a process of education, hands-on learning, and licensing before someone can offer services. For specialties like plumbing, electrical work, dentistry, etc. there is a standardized process to become a licensed professional in their field. Unfortunately for dog training and behaviour, there is no process and no required certification or licensing.

There are organizations such as CCPDT, IAABC, and APDT that are trying to contribute to regulation in the industry. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of programs online with unscientific or outdated information promising that you can become a trainer in just a few weeks.

Some of the more comprehensive programs such as Karen Pryor Academy or The Academy for Dog Trainers are great places to start for anyone interested in becoming a dog trainer.

The Dog Classroom trainers, with the leadership of Anne-Marie, have chosen to follow and support the scientific evidence about how animals learn and are voluntarily certified (or working toward certification) through the CCPDT.

How do you know if a dog trainer is properly educated?

A good dog trainer will have a thorough understanding of Learning Theory, including Operant and Classical conditioning, and how to apply it to teaching our family pets. There have been decades of research on different training methods, their effectiveness, and the risks involved. The evidence clearly shows that reward-based training offers the most advantages and least harm (American Veterinary Society for Animal Behaviour, 2021).

An educated trainer will be able to clearly explain what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how it works and provide evidence to support their decisions. They will also be able to explain any risk factors related to their chosen method.

An educated trainer will keep up to date with current industry best-practices and will not use outdated methods such as dominance theory.

When considering hiring a trainer, check into their certifications and what is required to earn them, and ask about some of their recent continuing education courses!

Click here to read part 2: Finding an Experienced Trainer

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