July 7, 2017

How to Pick a Dog Trainer

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Maryland is not a big state, and there are probably more dog trainers here than Starbucks and 7-11’s combined. So when you google a dog trainer you’ll find an overwhelming number of choices. Training is a dual investment and as such, you expect a return from a trainer who can not only train a dog but can also train you.

So how do you know?

There’s a lot of info out there on how to pick a trainer, but my simplest advice is to pick up the phone and talk to them. Text and email work fine but can be easily edited to cater to you. If what they’re saying makes sense then you’ve accomplished Step 1 of getting coached.

Many moons ago, when I was first looking for a dog trainer I ran the gauntlet from being talked down to for not having the common sense of modern dog training practices, to having a jargon rich conversation which left me more confused, to finally finding my soon to be mentor into dog training geekiness.

She put me at ease, listened to my concerns (which at the time were ‘he’s great until he pulls’), and at the evaluation was able to explain some of the behaviors she was seeing without condemning me for creating the furry monster at the end of the leash while making a few suggestions regardless of whether I hired her or not.

Step 2, What’s their experience?

It can be impressive seeing someone’s name with a lot of letters behind it. It really doesn’t mean anything. There is currently no licensing or national certification for dog trainers. For me, the proof is in the pudding. While my previous mentors were all pretty competitive and successful in the dog sport world, what really set them apart was….their students.

Students are a reflection of the trainer’s abilities to convey information in a way that they are able to repeat the exercise on their own, time and time again.

Thank you,

Denise Willis

Expert Dog Trainer

Baltimore, MD