When I decided to get a dog I did no research; I never wondered about dog trainers near me or even checked to see if there were dog training classes offered locally. Huge oversight! You’ve seen the videos on Facebook: a camera pans around a room full of drifting stuffing and couch pillow carcasses while a voice drones “Who did this? Who ate this pillow? Who made this mess? Who’s a bad boy? Did you do this?” as the camera focuses on a chagrined dog bowing his head in shame. That was me.
Maybe you’ve jokingly commented to a struggling pet owner, “Are you walking that dog or is that dog walking you?” That was probably me.
Or perhaps you know someone who’s every conversation was underlaid with the jacked up barking of a canine air raid siren. That’s me, too.
After a week of chaos, I whipped out my phone in desperation and Googled: Dog Trainers Near Me.
Help! There Are a Zillion Dog Trainers Near Me! How Do I Choose?
I wanted to be cautious in my choice of dog trainers, so I did some reading up on the subject. The relationship between dog and owner should be a delight. Poor training methods can jeopardize that relationship. According to the Preventive Vet, negative reinforcement—or “aversive training methods”—can cause permanent damage. So even though negative reinforcement may work in the short term, the long term effects can be permanent stress for your dog and a pessimistic outlook on life.
Dog and owner should be on the same team. In a positive setting, dogs want to learn and to please. This will not happen if the human in the equation is harsh and domineering. So when checking out those “dog trainers near me” be sure to investigate their training methods.
Can Just Anyone Declare Themselves a Dog Trainer?
The sad truth is yes, anyone can hang out a shingle and call himself or herself a dog trainer. No laws require a dog trainer to be certified. So the onus is on you, the dog owner, to thoroughly research potential candidates. Find out how much experience or education a trainer has. Ask for credentials and certification. Learn about accreditation.
There are great programs out there for educating dog trainers in using positive reinforcement. Once you know what to look for, you should try to find a trainer who has completed a degree in dog training.
Ultimately, you want to choose a dog trainer near you whose goal is to patiently train both you and your pet to work as a team, creating an unbreakable bond between you and your dog.
Dog Trainers Set the Foundation for a Lifetime Partnership
When you commit to owning a dog you commit to a long term relationship. To make the relationship as beneficial as possible for both you and your dog, there should be a strong foundation of trust and affection. Learning how to reinforce good behavior and instill in your dog an unshakeable response to commands will result in a lasting partnership in which you experience a maximum of joy and a minimum of frustration, and your dog feels loved and secure. A well-trained dog is a secure, optimistic, and obedient companion for life.
Dogs do want to please their humans, and it’s our responsibility to teach them what behaviors are appropriate. It’s worth taking a little time to do the research and find the best dog trainer in your area. The investment will pay dividends for a long time to come.