How to spot a good dog trainer: rewards and fun, not penalties

“Sit!” or “Down!” or “At the foot!” are all commands that you can teach your dog yourself. But many people who adopt a dog as a pet like to hire a professional to help train them. If you’re looking for a pro, here’s what you want to see and what you should try to avoid.

Look carefully at a potential trainer’s website, says Sarah Ross, a companion animal expert at a German animal welfare group. Find out what approach they take to training, how they work and how they were trained themselves.

Look around too, as members of your community may have helpful recommendations. “Ask other dog owners who have gone through training before,” says Ross.

Good trainers work by using positive reinforcement, not punishing the animal, says Ross. This means that they will reward your dog for exhibiting the desired behavior by handing him treats, praising him, or petting him.

“For a dog, even shaking his leash is a punishment,” explains the expert. You also shouldn’t push your dog forcibly, according to animal rights group Peta. This can stress the dog, make it scared or aggressive.

If you see the trainer using any of the following in their work then alarm bells should ring: choke chains, or spiked, electric or spray collars – these can injure the animal and some are prohibited .

Peta also says you can spot a good trainer because they won’t make any rash promises of success until you physically meet the dog and get a feel for it.

Dog trainers often offer group and individual training.

“A band is good for young dogs or if basic commands need to be learned,” says Ross. She adds that you may want to opt for individual sessions if you have specific issues or feel unsafe as a dog owner.

Make sure the trainer explains everything step by step and adds why they are doing what.

Another point to keep in mind is that you should be able to ask the trainer if all of your family members can attend. Ross points out that you want kids to know what commands the dog is responding to as well.

Last but not least, training should never mean hours of hard work for your pet.

Experienced trainers always schedule a break for the dogs to sniff and play. – dpa

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