What to ask a potential trainer and how to verify if what they say is correct

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Charlie- Chaplin

A day without- laughter is a- day wasted
Barked: Mon Feb 4, '13 12:03pm PST 
I'm looking into a dog trainer for agility and scent work. I'm wondering what are the right questions to ask and how to verify if they're lying or not.

I mean, I can ask if their dogs have any titles in anything, is there a data-base where I can check to see if it's true?

And other questions? I'm guessing they will also be listed on the APDT site if they claim they're certified through them?

Lenny -The- Wrecking Ball
Barked: Mon Feb 4, '13 12:49pm PST 
For me watching our trainer who taught our obedience class demo with her dog is what had me sold. It was clear in the demo she loved her dog and believed that positive reinforcement and team work would get you where you wanted to go. Her dog was at ease and very eager to work for her handler. Of course upon meeting her she eagerly introduced herself and her experiences and her dogs and what she showed them in. She was recommended to me by a friend, sometimes word of mouth is the best way to find someone you can trust.

For my nose work instructor, he used the same facility as my obedience instructor did. I was skeptical but his website listed his years working with dogs in the military and now on the public front to help people bond with their pets through team work. He was easy to talk to both in person and through e-mail, and very reasonable in expectations and his goal is what I loved most. Not about competing (even though he encouraged all students to give it a go) but instead about building our dog's confidence and working through team work.

For Nose work they need to be a certified through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). And like you said for other certifications you can see if that is legitimate too, though sometimes I've seen trainers 'certified' but aren't that experienced or that great with their students. Through that site you can find an instructor's site or ways to contact them and ask them anything you like and possibly see about any demos they may be taking part of or ask if you can watch a class to see how they work with their students. I'd recommend doing the same thing for an agility class. Watching them work with their students and or their own dog will tell you more than just asking them questions (not that asking questions isn't important/helpful). You can also attend local agility events and see where or who people work with, who they've had good experiences with and who they recommend. In the dog world, I think word of mouth and just meeting people and their dogs shows you first hand where you want to fit in and whose styles best fits with your personality. A trainer could tell you what you want to hear, but past students may tell a different story or hopefully back it up. Thats how I found my resources and it worked out really, really well for me and I know they'll always be willing to help me and answers question whether I'm in their class or not and I can always reach out to them. That's the kind of trainer you look for wink

I'm sure others will have other suggestions too, best of luck finding a trainer way to go

Edited by author Mon Feb 4, '13 12:50pm PST


Barked: Tue Feb 5, '13 11:53am PST 
When I was looking for an agility trainer for Skarlet I went to a couple trials and watched the runs closely. I looked for dogs that had good relationships with their people, were very happy, and did well. Then I would approach their owner and ask what trainer they had gone to.

It worked extremely well, and I found a wonderful trainer. I honestly could not tell you how many titles she has, or even if she is certified... But I watched her students compete and knew from watching them with their dogs she had to be doing something right.

I also watched her teach a class before signing up my dog for any.
I have no regrets, and if I was looking for a trainer in a different area I would go about it the same way.

It was great, because some people are really good at training their dogs and competing so they have the titles, but they can't pass on what they know quite as well. This way I knew she was good at training dogs and people smile

Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Tue Feb 5, '13 1:25pm PST 
IMHO... when looking at an agility mentor, you want somebody that has had experience training others, not just their own dog. Success of the trainer's dogs tells you a bit about how well they train their own dogs. Success of students' dogs tells you how well they train the humans. Agility is a team sport so both sides are important. Again, IMHO, I like a trainer who has had wide experience with a variety of breeds. If you see that combination... way to go

Beyond that, you can consider who they read/whose methods they follow. I love the technical aspects of the sport... so like to work with theoreticians (students of the sport wink ). Others could care less. Up to you.
Charlie- Chaplin

A day without- laughter is a- day wasted
Barked: Wed Feb 6, '13 1:53pm PST 
Thanks, I think I found a trainer I may like. I'm going to head over there next week and see how things are and ask if I can sit in on a class as well as see if any of her pupils are competing their dogs in any sports.
Charlie- Chaplin

A day without- laughter is a- day wasted
Barked: Wed Feb 6, '13 2:23pm PST 
This is the facility I'm interested in (space in between a & i in trainers):

http://dynamicdogschicago.com/about_chicago_dog_tra iners

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 9:31am PST 
Two of the trainers list credentials that are easily checked. All you need to do is contact the governing bodies. Do sit in on a couple of classes. I am always curious how 'trainers' deal with problem dogs. For example, a well known trainer who runs his own facility here was completely overwhelmed by Shadow and actually raised his hand to her.
A women with apparently 20 years experience training GSDs in Germany was totally confused as to why Sabi(who's a pussycat) refused to listen to her.
Anyone with any experience can handle an easy dog, the test comes with the dogs who challenge. While you are observing watch the trainer closely to see if they actually are teaching or just spewing information. Do they interact with the dogs and their handlers? Do they lose patience when students don't grasp things quickly enough? Watch for attempts to intimidate the dogs, sometimes these are very subtle. Make sure that the students who are struggling are not just being left behind. If possibly sit in on a few different classes and try to make sure that you are really seeing a good picture of the methods and skill level of the trainer.
Good Luck!
Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 1:17pm PST 
One of the other things that matters to me is if the trainer has titled his/her own dogs. Of if any of his/her students have done so. Some governing bodies may have rules, but there is really no one to check up on them. Some certifying bodies may require a very simple test.

Member Since
Barked: Thu Feb 7, '13 10:52pm PST 
When looking for a dog trainer, it's important that you ask them to do a demonstration as mentioned by the first person who replied to this question. Also, it wouldn't hurt you if you go around and ask friends or dog owners you trust who their trainer was. Once again, word-of-mouth is also very helpful. If you want, you can also ask the trainer questions.

Observe the trainer closely. If he makes medical, dietary, or holistic suggestions without consulting with a veterinarian, that's a red flag!
Charlie- Chaplin

A day without- laughter is a- day wasted
Barked: Fri Feb 8, '13 12:03am PST 
Thanks for all of the advice.

Unfortunately I really don't have any friends with dogs and the people that come into where I work are ignorant but I've heard about a lot of people going to this facility. I'll just have to drop by myself.
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