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Hiring a Dog Trainer: 5 Red Flags

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Nobody is perfect! Whether it's a product or service you're looking for, at the end of the day you're dealing with another individual, sentient being and what worked for one may not work for another. That said, we ARE dealing with our best friend, and so we need to make sure that we find the very best dog training support available. Here are 10 red flags you want to look out for (in no particular order), before working with a trainer: 1. 'Too good to be true' promises in a short amount of time. When you're working with an animal, particularly when you're looking to change something about them/their behaviour, please assume that it will take more time than you think. Dogs do not act or live based on a clock, meaning they are never rushed, and thus to best understand them, we need to do the same and not fall into the false appeal or promise of achieving a certain goal within a short amount of time. Instead, look for a trainer that focuses more on how good you and your dog will feel every minute working together, on your road to your goals! 2. Correction-based methods. Your dog isn't acting one way or another due to a lack of corrections, but rather because what they are doing simply happens to work for them and their individual needs/wants. So instead, look for a trainer that will work WITH that, rather than against it. Meaning if your dog finds himself digging often in your yard, an ideal trainer will help you consider providing healthy and practical opportunities for your dog to be able to dig to their heart's content in a location and time that you're happy with. Or if you have a very energetic dog, don't let them recommend corrections but rather healthy outlets to that energy like agility training, nosework games, scavenging, food puzzles, etc! 3. Not providing an understanding of the root of your dog's issue(s). Going hand in hand with the previous red flag, this one requires knowledge, patience, care and experience, all resulting in a good trainer is to help you understand why your dog does what he does so that you can all work together and prevent it, instead of putting a correction or fix/bandaid on the matter and risk it resurfacing in another way because the root of the issue was never addressed and handled properly. 4. Not providing ways to prevent unwanted behaviours. Also going hand in hand with red flag #3, it's important that your trainer will provide you with tools, scenarios and methods to prevent unwanted behaviour. Otherwise, you are more likely to find yourself instead having to manage the behaviour as it's already happening, instead of preventing it so that your dog can eventually forget it and leave it behind, replacing it instead with a different, wanted behaviour. 5. Forces you to buy a specific tool. No one training tool will address and fix all of our concerns. It all comes down to how you train and guide your dog in different scenarios. That said, if your trainer is requiring that you only use one type and only that type of tool, this could be a red flag that indicates they have built their support system on that single product, as opposed to guiding your dog to succeed in all (pain-free) circumstances and tools. Look instead for a trainer that is more open and provides you with multiple options you are not obligated to use. (Bonus) 6. Something just doesn’t feel right about their recommendations. Trust your intuition. If something just doesn't feel right for you, no matter what you've heard, read or seen about the trainer you're looking into, then it's best that you proceed with another. Better to listen to your intuition rather than perhaps risk regretting moving forward with the support of a service you didn't fully believe in and feel good about.


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