A good referral source may be your neighbor, your veterinarian or breeder - if their dogs are well trained and responsive without food and/or toy bribes. If inquiring from a related field professional, ask where s/he would train and why - not just who has dropped off brochures.
One major association of pet training instructors shares to build business, instructors should provide veterinary staff with cookies in addition to brochures, with no mention of the quality of the program. This is so important to them, this advice has been their newsletter cover story not once, but twice. This is almost funny - if a person is hoping to get referrals, the 'treat reward' system is used to manipulate people to increase business.
What it comes down to, is that when searching for references, someone that is 'on a list' may be there for reasons other than the quality of a program and not the methods used. Be sure to get a personal receommendation and inquire - what does the program offer?
Learning is never erased! What you allow your pet to learn or what you teach cannot be totally undone or changed at a later time. Teaching your pet should be fun and rewarding and should never put you or your pet in a pressure shut down. If your pet does not enjoy training time with you, something you are doing is wrong.
Does the instructor use methods and concepts that are dysfunctional and distract (food, clickers, squeak toys, luring, etc.) your pet from learning what is truly desired or clear by showing what response is truly wanted and praising (RDT LLC)? A perfect example may be the "Come!" command...
What is a real "Come"?
Are you being taught a method that will teach your pet to ignore the squirrel in your neighbor's yard, the horse in the road or children on bicycles or are you using a food or toy reward that will teach your dog it is treat or play time - and have you hoping it would rather eat or play with you - which is very unlikely to happen!
Responsive or undesired reactive?
Does the instructor teach reactive obedience such as rewarding prey drive 'get it' actions towards treats or toys or responsible obedience as taught at Results. Using reactive obedience training methods gives a puppy or dog permission to grab food from hands and actually reinforces bad manners, setting a sad foundation for a bite. If you have children or little people in your world - think about this!
Loving dogs is not enough!
Many people want to become instructors just because they 'love dogs' - NOT because they have studied or know dogs. Is their experience pertinent to YOUR needs? Can they teach a foundation program that you can use for future training - such as having your dog a pleasure to be around and under control in your home, at the lake or when in town?
Some that teach do not love dogs - they continue to do it because that is all they know. Dog training for some is a big bu$iness and others may think it is 'cool' to be a dog trainer for the attention they receive.
Several times a year, a phone call is received by our office by a person asking to observe our classes so they can learn start their own business. Their question is answered by sharing that there is a huge responsibility to pets and their people to gain experience before going into business. It is amazing how the responsibility of teaching does not occur to people. And it is amazing and sad that many will start a business of teaching or pet sitting without taking time to learn. Do you want you and your pet to be someone's learning ground? Ask questions and follow your heart - most trainers do not last more than five years in this 'business' without constantly having to acquire new leads.
People may advertise themselves as certified or licensed - these are usually purchased through various organizations that may or may not have merit. Some may 'purchase' certification and membership to various associations can be for a fee without requirements!
Is it comfortable and safe for training? A caring instructor will provide matting on slippery floors such as tile if the dogs will be running or jumping. Developing puppies whose growth plates have not closed and dogs with orthopedic concerns should not be running on slippery floors or using some of the 'pet playground equipment' that is available and may be used in day care and puppy class.
Is the environment clean? A dirty center can be a breeding ground for germs and flea heaven. Consider this when using boarding or grooming facilities, also. At some class and at dog parks your pet may be interacting with a pet that has skin or parasite issues - fleas, ticks, mange, etc. Does the facility require recent health records on participants?
Training your dog on a regular basis at a veterinary clinic where ill dogs use the grounds and are treated may increase the risk of your dog catching something should be considered. Also the likelihood of your dog being exposed to viruses and parasites are increased at training centers that do not require health records and fecal checks from the dogs attending for classes or socializing.
If you have a puppy, dog or situation with special needs - get help early if needed. Directing attention to a situation as soon as signals are given, especially if there are children or other animals in the household, now or planned for the future can make a difference. Puppies rarely 'grow out of problems', usually people learn to use cautious handling.
A competent instructor should be able to recognize behaviors and give approaches to problems to avoid or solve undesired ones. Note it is important that YOU share concerns that are not obvious at class so you may get early help.
Consistency is very important. A uniform way of training is easiest on both the trainer and dog, thus I believe that working with one instructor instead of a different person for various levels of training is often most productive for all types of pets and their people.
Our professional program is time proven, productive and fun, too! When you combine the above - Results happen!!!
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