Dog Obedience Training School
How to Find the Best Certified Dog Trainer




The time you invest in finding a good dog obedience training school will pay off with a well-behaved and easy to get along with dog.

But before you even begin your search for a dog school and a trainer, you need to know what to look for and what questions to ask.  

It's a fact that a well-behaved dog is less likely to end up in a shelter or be given up for adoption.

He is also less likely to exhibit signs of aggression towards other animals, including dogs, and humans.

But how do you train your dog if you don't have the experience? You have several options...

Dog Training Options

You can buy a dog training book or a video and attempt to train your dog on your own. This approach may work but, since each dog is unique and some techniques may not work with your pet, it will not be easy.

If you want to train your puppy by yourself, make sure the training book or a video that you use came from a reliable source. When training my own dogs, I often use the Secrets to Dog Training as a reference.

Another approach is to enroll your pet in a dog obedience training school. This is more expensive than trying to train him on your own but, especially for a new dog owner, offers a lot of advantages.

Important...

Don't sign up your puppy for classes until he had received all vaccinations. If in doubt, discuss it with your vet. His or her word overrides everyone else's, including trainer's.

In my opinion, enrolling your pet in a dog obedience school is a much better option...

 
Dog Obedience School

How to Choose a Dog Obedience Training School

If you are still reading this, it can mean only one thing -- you are leaning towards enrolling your puppy or dog in an obedience school. But to succeed, you need to enroll your dog not just in a dog school, but in a good dog obedience training school. Here are some tips to help you with your search:

  1. Your first step is to prepare a list of schools to visit. Talk to your dog-owning friends, veterinarians, members of dog clubs. If you don't know anyone who had used the services of a professional dog trainer, search the Internet for schools within reasonable driving distance from your house. Remember, this is just the first step; you are just looking for candidates, not making the final selection.
  2. Each instructor employs his or her own training methods, but it's the school that sets the tone. While some schools rely on rewarding good behaviors, others rely on force and punishment to correct unwanted behaviors. Cross out any school that doesn't promote gentle, rewards-based training methods. A good example of positive training is clicker training that relies heavily on rewarding your dog with treats.
  3. Eliminate any dog obedience training school that is willing to employ instructors without any certification. More on certification in a moment.
  4. Accidents do happen, so it's also a good idea to eliminate a school that is not properly insured.
  5. Are people running the school dog lovers themselves or they are in it just for the money? You will be able to find the answer after spending 10 to 15 minutes speaking to the manager.
  6. Also, no matter how good the school looks or how close it is to your house, it's a good idea to cross-out schools that don't check if a dog is up-to-date on his or her vaccinations.
  7. Check out the references and success stories. Talk to current and past customers. Do some research over the Internet. Check with Better Business Bureau if there are any complaints against the school.
  8. Finally, if after pruning your list down to several candidates you still can't decide, don't forget to compare the prices.

Choosing a Dog Trainer

Your next step will be to choose a dog trainer. Here is what you can expect from a good trainer...

  1. A good dog trainer will not only train your dog but he will also help strengthening the bond between you and your pet.
  2. A good dog trainer will not only train your dog but he will also educate you, a dog owner.

The above two points explain why it's so important you feel comfortable with the trainer. Let's continue…

  1. Some punishment may be effective in teaching a dog the proper behavior, but it should not come at the expense of positive reinforcement methods. Exclude any trainer who relies solely on punishment or if the punishment is excessive.
  2. Ask a potential instructor for his or her credentials. Is he or she certified by the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors? Is he or she Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)? Does he or she belong to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers? Did he or she take any "refresher" courses after getting the initial certification? How much experience does he or she have?
  3. Ask some specific questions on their training methods. For example, if you ask how the instructor teaches the dog to sit, the correct answer will not be "I push him into the sit position". If a potential instructor applies force when guiding a dog into a certain position, look for another instructor.
  4. Ask what type of equipment the instructor uses. Give preference to an instructor who is flexible and will switch to another piece of training equipment if your dog does not respond well to the first choice.

You may need to visit several dog training schools before you find an instructor you are comfortable with.

The Next Step

You found a dog obedience training school that you like. The instructor seems knowledgeable and you feel comfortable with your choice. Is your search for a dog obedience training school over?

Almost, but not yet...

Ask to observe several puppy training classes similar to the one you are interested in. Watching an advanced class when you have a young puppy is a waste of time. Make sure that the instructor who will be teaching your puppy teaches the class you are observing.

When you observe a class, pay attention to how the instructor conducts the class. Is he willing to give special attention when necessary? Is he rushing through the class? Anything else you don't like?

The goal of the basic class is not only to train your puppy but also to educate you, a new dog owner. When you observe a class, pay attention if the instructor is providing information on such typical puppy problems as dog jumping on people, separation anxiety, etc.

Finally, is he or she using the same approach with all dogs in the class? Most likely, a class will include at least one shy dog, one aggressive dog, etc. A shy dog requires a different approach than a dominant dog. 

Here is a video with a dog training class in progress:



Final Thoughts...

A dog obedience school is a start, but the training does not end when you come home. To be successful, you need to repeat the exercises you learned in class.

The goal of dog training classes is to build a bond between your puppy and your family. But to be effective, a training class has to be not only informative but also fun. If any of these ingredients are missing or you are not comfortable with an instructor, look for another dog obedience training school.

On a lighter note, I am sure you will enjoy the following video!



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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

For more advice on how to train an aggressive dog, I highly recommend this dog training guide. You'll find lots of information on dealing with many behavioral problems, including dog and puppy aggression.


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