What Makes a Good Dog Trainer?

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Choosing between dog trainers can be a tricky task. There are so many great trainers out there that can help you and your pooch that when it comes to settling on one trainer you don’t know who to pick.

Just like building a house, you might be able to do it yourself, but it would take longer than necessary because you don’t have the skills, time and/or resource. What’s more, you might not get the end result that you wanted – and the same goes for training your four-legged friend.

Whether you are training a bird dog or a common household pet, the end goal is to get positive results from the training and see the benefits when you are back at home and out in the real world. Much like a child going to school, they must be able to learn and develop from what they are being taught.

So, how do you pick from the dog trainers out there when there is such an abundance of effective professionals to choose from? There are many key characteristics that any trainers worth their salt will share, and here is a handful of them to keep an eye out for.

Are They Clear and Consistent?

When the trainer is instructing your dog, they must be able to convey the commands in a way that is clear and consistent. If you can imagine someone teaching you the rules of football in another language, you would want it to be as understandable as possible.

The same goes for training your dog; a good trainer will be able to keep the meaning of words and the rules the same. Just like humans, dogs like consistency. They are intelligent animals, but they can only learn from what they are taught, so if a trainer constantly changes the rules, then it becomes much harder to learn.

Key points to ask yourself:

  •     Are they using convincing hand cues?
  •     What voice/hand signals do they use?
  •     Is there consistency?

Is your dog’s behaviour what you expect from the commands?

What Makes a Good Dog Trainer

Do They Make It Enjoyable?

One of the best ways to get results in training, as you will see in examples such as police dog handler training, is to make it fun. If trainers use play, they tend to reach goals far faster than if it’s boring, mundane and not stimulating for the dog at all.

When watching the trainer, do they do incorporate game-style learning? Do they reward dogs when they get things right? Do they play with them without encouraging roughhousing? These are traits to keep an eye out for.

If the trainer uses play training, then they are using this method to effectively build a dog’s enthusiasm and focus. Not only will this be accomplished, but it will also help to develop a stronger bond between trainer and dog. The respect will work both ways, and with respect comes trust, which ends with better outcomes in training.

Do They Have Patience?

To accomplish success in dog training, patience must be shown in many cases. Not every dog will instantly latch on to what’s being asked of them, and therefore, it can mean lots of small steps to build up to the bigger picture.

If a trainer is rushing through sessions and you don’t think your pet is getting the best from them, then it’s time to look elsewhere. Essentially, if your dog isn’t ready to move on to the next stage of training then the process is flawed and will likely fail in the long run. Not only that, but you might end up having to go back around to a previous point in the training, meaning that it takes longer than required.

Your trainer must be able to demonstrate a wealth of patience to obtain the goal they are seeking with the dog during each session.

A key point to bear in mind:

Does the trainer use short sessions, using small steps that are repeated until their student is proficient at what they are being trained to do?

Can They Adapt Well?

In some instances, a trainer might come across a dog that simply is unable to grasp what is being asked of them in a session. Therefore, can the trainer circumstances they are faced with to get a positive result?

Being able to see a trainer’s ability to show their patience is one thing, but regardless of how patient they are, if the message isn’t getting through to your dog, then it’s time to change things up.

Dogs aren’t stupid, so when your pet isn’t comprehending what is being asked of them, it’s often because of something the trainer is/is not doing. For this reason, you want to see that they can change their approach. It’s important to see this kind of skill in their training to know that your dog is going to come out of the sessions having developed something new each time.

Does the Trainer Suit You and Your Dog?

Lastly, it’s very important to think about whether you and your dog have a connection with the trainer. You see it in many sports where a trainer and player don’t see eye to eye and the consequences are usually detrimental.

If you find that either you or your four-legged friend don’t quite have the connection with the trainer that you feel is of an adequate level then find another coach who does. 

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