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Many people look at January as a nice, clean slate. That might be why the Association of Pet Dog Trainers has officially dubbed the month “Train Your Dog Month”. It’s a clean slate to learn new things! 

While you are making resolutions, why not invest some time in your relationship with your dog? What are their training needs? How can you help them be the best version of themselves while simultaneously building a stronger bond?

You have considered training services for your dog before, but then you find yourself in a rabbit hole when it comes time to choose a trainer. There are so many options, and you don’t know how to narrow it down to work with someone who is the right fit for you and your best friend. 

When considering a trainer, here are some questions you can ask to help you make an informed decision: 

What method of training do they use?

Asking a trainer their method may solidify your choice. Do they use positive reinforcement, meaning they reward “good” behaviors they want to see more of? Do they use clicker training, which is a tool that gives an audible cue to your dog? These are a couple of examples, but there are various methods your trainer could potentially use. Ask them about it and why they use it to determine your comfort level. 

What is their educational background in training?

Is the trainer certified? Through who? If not, what kind of experience do they have? Some trainers are certified through groups like The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Others are not, and while that isn’t a deal-breaker, you want to be sure they have some background in training and the methods they are using. If they are not certified or a member of any professional associations, it is fair game to ask why. Experience-based learning can be just as valuable as a certification, but it is best to have all of that information up-front when deciding which trainer to use. 

What does the follow-up look like?

When choosing a trainer, it’s important to evaluate your specific dog’s needs and decide how much support you’ll need after your training sessions. If you need some obedience refreshers (like sit, stay, and come) one or two classes without much follow-up access might be sufficient. If you need help addressing behavior issues, you might need more support. For example, an in-home session (or a few) with the option for follow-up calls, virtual meetings, etc. as you evaluate your progress or questions pop up.

Can they share success stories?

Different trainers may develop strengths in different areas. One trainer might feel completely comfortable with obedience training, while another may be great at behavior modification. Assess your needs and ask if those needs fall within the trainer’s comfort zone. Have they helped dogs with similar needs? What was the outcome? Testimonials and stories can give you some supportive confidence in your choice.

Are you going to use the New Year as a fresh start for training your dog? If so, we hope these questions will help you choose the perfect trainer to work with!