It can be a mine field trying to chose the right dog trainer, and with so much advise that can be sought on social media, is there really any need to physically go and see someone? In my opinion… the answer is yes, there is a need to go and see someone, face to face, with your dog. Why? Because as we all know with social media, sometimes it can hard to get the whole picture, and keyboard warriors will often give advise that isn’t necessarily ’wrong’, but may be potentially inappropriate for you and your dog at the time. As well as this, what works for some people 1) may not work for others 2) can be very difficult to portray over messages.
So once you’ve decided that ‘yes, I would actually like to go and see a real life person to discuss my dog and a training plan’ how do you pick that person? Because dog training in general is a very unregulated field. You could be a painter and decorator on Friday, and call yourself a ‘
#ProfessionalDogTrainer’ on the Monday. So how do you choose?
Here at #ClaudiasCanineCoaching, your training journey is of upmost importance. As much as it’s about reaching your training goal, be that being able to win a working test, take your dog out picking up/beating, or just not be pulled around on a lead, you have to enjoy the process too!
My first tip is, find a trainer that you can get on with! Do you want to go and spend your time in the company of that person? You may end up spending a lot of time with this person, because as dog trainers, we don’t have magic wands!! Trust me, if we did… we’d use them. So you need to be happy in their company, and you need to be comfortable asking them questions! You don’t want to be worried to ask that burning question, because the answer may be the key to unlocking yours and your dogs potential!
My second tip would be ‘try before you buy’. And that doesn’t mean free training! Can you go and watch one of the lessons? Watch that trainer in action before signing up. Do you like the way they interact with the dogs? Do you like the way the trainer interacts with the handlers? Do the handlers look happy? Or do they look terrified? If that trainer says ‘yeah sure! We’d love to have you observe our session’ this is already a great start! If you get the ‘no, we don’t allow observers’ this sets off a little alarm bell in my head!
My third tip is, don’t be mislead by social media! A few hashtags, a pretty colour scheme and some fancy camera angles can really look the part… but the proof is in the pudding! Are they producing well behaved dogs from their classes? Are their dogs well behaved? Are the handlers developing as a result of those classes? I'm not saying there’s a direct correlation between the quality of the trainer and the quality of their social media content, but don’t get sucked in the person who has 5k followers on Instagram! Use their social media to make contact with that person. Are they happy to talk to you about their training? Or are they leaving you on read? And remember...never underestimate word of mouth!
Tip number 4! Now that you've found your dog trainer, I would really advise that you stick with that person (especially if you're a novice dog handler). The reason for this, is that I see may people, and they've hopped from trainer to trainer with the same dog for the same thing. Now, as good as a lot of trainers are, we don't all teach in the same way. we all have slightly different ways of doing things, which is absolutely FINE! The issue comes in, when you've seen a number of different trainers, who have offered different bits of advise, the handler tries to mush all of those pieces of information together and ends up with one TOTALLY confused dog. Once you reach a certain point in your training journey and have a good level of knowledge about training your dog and you know what you need to achieve and how to get there... THEN is the perfect time to go and see different trainers, they will be able to offer more advice, but you need to be able to decipher the good advice from the inappropriate advice (I try not to use 'bad' advice, because for some dogs and some handlers it may work, but dog training is not a 'one size fits all' kinda thing!)