Dog training has rapidly evolved over the past few decades and there is so much conflicting information out there. Everywhere you look, on television, the internet or social media, everyone is a dog trainer and everyone is going to have different advice about what to do with your dog. That is bad news for the dogs, and likely why they are being euthanized at such massive rates in our country, around 5,000 a day and this is the sad reality that most people don't want to talk about.
It can be confusing and overwhelming experience for a dog owner to figure out how to best help their dogs, and hire the right trainer for their family, so we hope to help you figure out the best path for you and your pack family. When animal training first emerged it was focused more of a forced based corrective approach, so the animals would tend to comply out of fear rather than respect. Then when people began to question the ethics of those methods, the pendulum swing to a purely positive model. That model rewards good behaviors but ignores negative, unhealthy and sometimes dangerous behaviors.
In our opinion, both models are at extreme ends of the spectrum. We believe that it's natural for animals and humans to have balance in their relationships. Like raising children first and foremost a relationship is important, and rewarding behavior the want is great but there must also be a way to address the unhealthy and negative behaviors. After 25 years studying and working in this industry we have come to understand how to best help dogs and their humans, here are some tips when it comes to choosing the right TRAINER to help you and your pet on a path to peace and happiness and to ensure you work with someone who has you and your animal's best interests in mind.
THERE IS NO REGULATION IN OUR INDUSTRY
FIRST you should know that there is no license needed to be a animal trainer. That means anyone can call themselves a "dog trainer, pet psychologist, pet behaviorist, etc." However to call yourself an "Animal Behaviorist" you are supposed to hold a Masters or Doctorate Degree in Animal Behavior which are recognized by National organizations. However there are many trainers that have worked 1,000's of hours with 1,000's of pets that do not have this certification so it is your job to do your homework when it comes to hiring a trainer that will ultimately affect your animals life.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS QUICK FIX
BEWARE of trainers that offer to "FIX" your animals behavior in one session. This is an unrealistic expectation and puts a lot of pressure on you and your pets to get it right the first time. This scenario would be similar to going to a counselor or personal trainer and asking them to FIX you in ONE session. Unfortunately that is not how life works. True and lasting change takes time, energy, and effort on your part. Normally you should be able to see PROGRESS on your first session, but it is an ongoing process to continue to keep up with the work involved in any relationship. We encourage people to focus on PROGRESS over PERFECTION, but over time during training your life with your dog should be getting better now worse. If it is not improving, it might be time to search out a second opinion. There are many dog owners that have had to search out more than one trainer to help them with their dogs.
FIGURE OUT WHAT KIND OF HELP YOU NEED
NEXT, ask yourself what you want your pet to LEARN. If your animal needs to learn the BASICS then maybe you want to start with a basic reward based training class to get started. If your pet knows all the basic commands but has a hard time following through on commands then more balanced training might the next step. If your pet is showing human or animal aggression they need may more intense training and/or rehabilitation, from someone who specializes in that particular issue. Are you looking for therapy work, sport or agility training, or hunting? Decide what type of training you are looking to do with your pet and do research on the trainers you are interested in working with.
PURELY POSITIVE/BALANCED/FORCED BASED TRAINING
Some trainers are PURELY POSITIVE trainers, meaning they reward good behavior but ignore bad behaviors. Some trainers lean more toward FORCE based training, meaning they start with CORRECTIONS without teaching your dog the new socially appropriate behavior. BALANCED trainers should be GUIDING your animals to make the right decisions and REWARDING good behavior, yet showing you appropriate and humane ways to correct bad behavior, and MOST IMPORTANT to how you how to communicate with your pet that makes sense to both of you. Training should be giving your pet LIFE SKILLS to navigate the world with you.
PROPER USE OF TRAINING TOOLS
Some people are opposed to certain TOOLS, but if you think about it, any tool can be use inhumanely and incorrectly. It is your job to determine what tool your animal needs to help them achieve the level of training so that you can both live a more enjoyable life together. We believe that while all training tools are being sold online and in pet stores, it is our responsibility to be teaching pet owners HOW to use these tools, otherwise we are doing a disservice to dogs. You also have a world of options when it comes to trainers and tools and every trainer has their own methods, philosophies and tools they prefer to be able to get the results they are looking for. Make sure that the trainer you choose teaches you how to use training tools so you understand why they are necessary so that you feel good about the tools, because they are helping your animal, not harming them. Ultimately you must be your dog's advocate and speak for them since they can't speak for themselves.
CHECK YOUR TRAINERS CREDENTIALS
Check out a trainer’s RESUME, find out their work HISTORY and what PROFESSIONAL organizations they belong to. There are many gifted pet professionals out there who aren’t certified, and the truth is that there are no hard and-fast rules that necessarily mean a certified trainer is an expert. However having a certification and belonging to professional organizations, ensures that the person you hire has had to pass some minimum requirements, put in some hands-on hours with animals, and do some studying. Certification also makes a trainer accountable to some basic standards and guidelines, which you can research.
GET REFERRALS/ASK AROUND
Get REFERRALS. This may sound obvious, but even if you find a trainer online, ask if you can talk to a couple of his or her previous clients. They can give you an idea of the trainer’s methods, personality, reliability, and willingness to follow through. When you are looking for help for you and your four legged family, ask friends and family for a trainer they trust to help GUIDE you through the sometimes stressful process of training your pet.
WORK AS A TEAM TO HELP YOUR PET
Make sure the trainer INCLUDES you as part of the training process. There’s nothing wrong with a trainer who wants to LEAD you through the training process, because most likely if you are seeking training you and your pets may be in need of clear leadership. But BEWARE of trainers who do not include you in the training process. You should be working together as a team, and even in board and train programs trainers should bring you in throughout the process so you can SEE for yourself how your dog is PROGRESSING through training and include you in the training. A trainer who will not show you those things, should be suspect in our book.
Due to the lack of regulations and the nature of the dog training industry, as well as the ever-changing practices of dog trainers. Midwest Animal Welfare Society, Inc. cannot be responsible for training by other pet professionals. Referrals to any dog trainers or dog training programs does not equal an endorsement.
This includes dog trainers that have trained under the Life Changing Dog Training™ Program and trained in the Communicative Leashwork Process® We recommend you do your own research and make a decision to hire a dog trainer that you feel will best meet yours and your dog's needs.
We encourage you to look into local companies that are members of National Organizations established to develop and promote the highest standards of professional and business practice among canine professionals. From eliminating basic, moderate or serious behavior problems it is important to understand all of your options and find the right trainer for you and your dogs!
IACP supports balanced training philosophies and the responsible use of all training tools:
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CANINE PROFESSIONALS
APDT is focused on purely positive training, however discourages the use of certain training tools:
DISCLAIMER: Due to the lack of regulations and the nature of the animal industry, as well as the changing practices of pet professionals - Midwest Animal Welfare Society, Inc. cannot be responsible for the actions of other pet professional companies and organizations. This includes pet professionals that have trained under the Life Changing Dog Training™ and Communicative LeashWork Process®. We will do our very best to connect you with pet resources and services and educate you on best practices, tools and information to help pet owners. However it is up to you the individual to do your own research and make a decision to hire a pet professional or work with an organization that will best meet you and your animal's needs.
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