Selecting a dog trainer can be a bewildering task—you want the very best for your dog, but in an industry that is largely unregulated, how do you separate the pros from the quacks?

In honor of dog training education month, we’re bringing you some solid advice on how to choose a dog trainer who’s right for you AND your dog. But first things first: let’s take a look at why you need a professional trainer in the first place.


Why you need a dog trainer (even if you don’t think you do)

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It’s time to change the way we think about professional dog training. Rather than a luxury reserved for pampered pooches, every dog owner—and every dog—can benefit from working with a pro.

If you’re concerned that hiring an outside trainer reflects poorly on your own dog-rearing skills, please set those fears aside. Working alongside a professional dog-trainer in no way implies failure on your part. On the contrary, it shows your willingness to invest in your dog’s well-being.


Reasons to hire a dog trainer:

  • You’re a first-time dog owner, and you’d like someone to hold your hand through the daunting process of puppy training 

  • You want to address some bad habits, like your dog jumping on guests or begging

  • Your dog has stopped following commands, and he needs a refresher

  • You want to socialize your dog

Benefits of hiring a professional dog trainer:

  • You’ll be a more confident dog owner

  • It will strengthen your owner/dog bond

  • You’ll learn how to communicate more effectively with your dog

  • You’ll get an objective, outside opinion—your dog trainer can help you spot problems or interpret your dog’s behavior in a new way


Where to find a reputable dog trainer 

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As you can see, there’s no denying the benefits of a good dog trainer. But where do you begin your search? Some ideas to get you started:

As you gather recommendations, highlight the ones that have some credentials attached to their name. While there’s no standard certification required for dog trainers in the United States, certification through an organization like the CCPDT is a pretty good indicator that a trainer takes his profession seriously. A trainer who invests in keeping up-to-date with the latest research on dog behavior demonstrates passion for the field—and that’s just what you want.


Be clear on what you want from a trainer

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There are several different formats dog training can take, and every trainer offers different services. Before you commit to a trainer, figure out exactly what you want by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Do you want to participate in group classes, or do you prefer one-on-one lessons?

  • Do you mind taking your dog to a facility for training, or would you prefer to have a  trainer come to you?

  • Are you interested in general training or are you looking to address a specific behavior? (if it’s a specific problem, you can look for an expert who specializes in that area)

  • What’s your budget? Some trainers will charge more than others, depending on what services they offer. Private, in-home lessons, for instance, will cost you more than group classes at a facility.


7 things to ask prospective trainers