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Choosing a Dog Trainer

In some areas, there are very few trainers to choose from. In others, the market is saturated with them. In either case, it is worth taking the time to make a truly informed decision. Sometimes bad training is worse than no training at all. If there is no suitable trainer in your area, consider books, DVDs, the Internet, and other resources to help you learn to train your dog.

ideaObserve the Trainer interacting with his/her own dog.

This does a couple of things for you. First, you can see how well-trained the Trainer's dog is. If they haven't successfully trained their own dog, how can they expect to help you train yours? Second, it lets you see what kind of relationship the Trainer has with their dog. If it's not the kind of relationship you want with your own dog, you can find another trainer. For example, if you don't want your dog to fear you, you don't want a trainer whose dog is afraid of her.

If they don't have a dog of their own, it really begs the question of why they chose dog training as a profession. I mean, would you want to go to a Dentist who has no teeth?

Observe a Class.idea

Most reputable trainers will allow you to observe a class without your dog before committing. This gives you the opportunity to see the methods and teaching style of the trainer. If you are uncomfortable with anything you see, you know this isn't the right class for you and your dog. Also, without your dog there to occupy your attention, you can focus on the other dogs in the class. While many dogs are worried in initial training classes, they should not be overly stressed.


Ask their Qualifications. 

You need a license to cut someone's hair. All you need to train a dog is someone willing to pay you to do it. Anybody can claim to be a dog trainer. Make sure they are qualified. Do they attend professional seminars? Do they keep up with the latest breakthroughs in behavioral science? Do they have any certifications or professional memberships? Don't be afraid to ask, what makes you qualified to train my dog? Many excellent dog trainers are self-taught, and they will have spent many hours studying their profession. Make sure they didn't watch a video or read a book and then declare themselves a professional dog trainer! 

ideaGo with your gut.

Often, we feel that little twinge that tells us something isn't right. But, we ignore it because we don't trust our gut. Just remember that not everyone who claims to be an "expert" is, and your gut will not steer you wrong. It's better to err on the side of caution.

Training Methods

The way we train dogs has evolved over the years. The traditional way of training used force, intimidation, and even pain to train dogs. It wasn't so much training as it was abuse. Now, there is no reason to use harsh training methods and tools to train dogs. When we know better, we do better, and we now know better. 

Unfortunately, not all dog trainers are doing better. They still use the old school methods of shocking, jerking, pushing, and pinching dogs to train them. They usually claim that positive methods do not work. This is not a fault of the training method but of their ability to use it correctly. Positive training works for every animal from goldfish to potentially dangerous animals like alligators and hyenas. Unlike traditional punishment-based training, it also works for every dog. When a dog defended themselves from "jerk and snatch" or shock collar training, they were labeled untrainable and aggressive and often euthanised. Positive training works for shy dogs, aggressive dogs, and everyone in between! 

Shock collar trainers will try to sell the method by claiming that it doesn't hurt. While that may be true in some cases, something doesn't have to hurt to cause harm. Shock collars only work if the dog finds them aversive. Otherwise, they would have no effect on the dogs behavior. If the dog likes the sensation, then it would reward the behavior rather than stopping it. This is basic behavioral science. Punishment decreases a behavior; reinforcement increases a behavior.

Shock collar training has a high risk of fallout. Studies found that dogs may become more fearful, anxious, or aggressive with these training methods. Even after shock is no longer used, studies show that dogs experience the same stress response to the beep as if it were an actual shock. The same thing is shown in experiments with rats. What are the dangers of Shock Collar training?

Recommended Trainers in the Midlands, SC

Woof UWoof University, LLC Columbia, SC

Woof U is co-owned by Dawn O'Cain and Kelly Whittington. Dawn was the pioneer of positive dog training in the Midlands with over 30 years experience. Kelly is a CARE board member and dog foster with over 10 years experience. They are members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Attend interactive classs to learn how to teach your dog useful obedience commands such as Sit, Stay, Down, Controlled Walk and also how to address Behavior Problems using positive methods. Dogs must be current on rabies, distemper/parvo, and kennel cough vaccinations.

Benefits: gain communication skills, confidence, and understanding between human and canine, address frustrating behavioral issues, provide socialization for puppies and vital re-socialization for rehomed shelter dogs through obedience exercises.

Private consults also offered for dogs who cannot attend group classes due to aggression or excessive fear.

Woof University LLC Columbia, SC

Praise Dog Training LLC Columbia, SC

Dog Fantastic Training Columbia, SC

Pawsitively Obedient Columbia, SC

Companion Dog Obedience - Graniteville, SC

Recommended Trainers in the Upstate, SC

Dog Trainer's Workshop Greenville, SC

Recommended Trainers in the Lowcountry, SC

The Learning Canine Charleston, SC

GentleWay Dog Training, LLC Myrtle Beach, SC

Recommended Trainers in Charlotte, NC

Ahead of the Pack Dog Training

Dogs Behaving Badly

P. O. Box 715 •  Lexington, SC 29071  •  (803) 622-9813 •  caretoadopt [ at ]