REMEMBER---credentials are only as good as the person who has them. This is why observing a trainer is important. One CAN be credentialed and still not have good mechanics or skills.
What to look for: *Clear statements about what training methods are used. *Photos of dogs in flat collars, harnesses, martingales *Evidence of education/credentials, organizational affiliation with positive reinforcement based organizations *Breadth of experience *Trainer pictures and biographies readily found *Trainer is insured *Evidence of ongoing professional development with organizations and professionals in the field who are recognized experts in the use of counter conditioning and reinforcement based training. *Willingness to let you visit a class, interview the trainer. *Trainer displays a high rate of reinforcement to dogs that is rapidly delivered. Warning signals: * Trainer is vague about the methods used. Implies that different dogs/breeds require different training methods * Website shows an online store that sells aversive equipment or supplements with no science supporting them * Trainer uses terms such as dog psychologist, behaviouralist, behaviourologist * Dogs on the website all seem to have bandanas around their necks for no discernable reason * Trainer suggests warning vests/collars/leashes. * Trainer talks about dominance, rank reduction, alpha status or handling your dog “like a mother dog would” or “as the pack would”. * Trainer offers a guarantee of success * Trainer talks about working with Red Zone or Level 10 dogs * Trainer says they succeed where all others have failed. * Trainer encourages ONLY group classes or ONLY board and train. * Trainer uses proprietary protocols not recommended by Reactive Dogs group * Trainer states they don’t use food or describe food use as “bribing” * Trainer sees using food for behavioural rehab as “rewarding bad behaviour”
Questions to ask. I’ve worded these questions carefully so that I can suss out a trainer who may be using techniques I’m NOT comfortable with, but they haven’t been open about on their website: * Can I sit down with you and ask some questions? * Can I observe a class? * Who are your mentors? What trainers/behaviour experts do you learn from and respect? * How will you keep my pet, other people and other pets safe? * What dog training equipment do you use when training a dog or do you recommend I use? * What happens in your training program when the dog responds in the way you want him to? * What happens in your training program when the dog responds in the way you do not want him to? * How will you punish the dog or advise me to punish the dog if he gets something wrong or exhibits a behavior I do not like? * How do you ensure that my dog is not inadvertently being punished? * How do you know that the type of reinforcement you have selected to train my dog is appropriate? * How will you know or how will I know if my dog is stressed during the training? * Which professional dog training associations are you a member of? * Will you guarantee your training results? * How do you think a dog’s behavior should be addressed if the dog is growling or snapping at people or other dogs?