HOW DO YOU RECOGNISE A GOOD DOG TRAINER?
By Clarissa v. Reinhardt
This is a question we have often been asked, seeing as the number of services on offer has become so large, it's hard to get any sort of overview, and there are still no regulated criteria for professional dog trainers. We gladly recommend colleagues from all over Germany whom we know personally and whose working methods we are convinced of. Some are listed under "addresses and links" (on our web site www.animal-learn.de), others you can enquire about via e-mail.
If you want to look elsewhere, or if you have received a concrete offer from a dog school in your area, this brief checklist can help you to choose a suitable trainer for yourself and your dog.
THE TRAINER -
- Should have a sound education in handling dogs and humans and should be
able to prove it any time. Vague assurances such as "…I once did a course…",
or "…I know what I'm doing…" are not sufficient!
- Should of course have a broad (!!!) base of specialised knowledge of dogs
and should be capable of dealing with all manner of breeds, characters and
- Should honestly tell you if he or she is just starting out in the profession
and recommend an experienced colleague to you if he or she feels out of their
particular training issues. In return, it would be nice if you appreciated this honesty and not saw it as weakness…everyone was a rookie once!
- Must be able to realise when the dog and/or the human needs a break. Very
often, both of them are pushed way too far, which leaves them insecure and
- Should refuse to admit the dog to a training kennel without the dog owner
being involved. The allegedly thorough introduction of between one and five
days after the training can never bring across the individual steps by which
the dog achieved the training goals to the dog owner, and you as dog owner
have no control about HOW your dog was trained. Additionally, there is a huge
disadvantage for you: your dog learns to perform the exercises with his trainer
and not with you.
- Should always be willing to pass on information and make an effort to communicate
the maximum amount of specialised knowledge to the customer. The exercise
structure must be explained in detail, your questions must be answered. Ideally,
you receive written documents, such as work sheets or a training diary, to
enable you to calmly work through and repeat the enormous amount of information
- Should be able - and willing! - to deal individually with each particular
dog owner. Unfortunately, many dog owners are not treated with patience and
sympathy for their very individual problems during the training. Sometimes
they are even cheekily branded as being "unable to handle a dog", or even
"too stupid". You should never put up with this. Go to another dog school
and, if possible, also make it public how customers are being treated there.
After all, a dog school is a service company and should be run accordingly.
- Should of course work in line with the latest research in behavioural science
and without using cruel equipment such as Remote Electric Training devices,
No-Bark collars, etc. Any and all methods that cause the dog fear or pain,
destroy his personality or wound his dignity are out of the question. The
blind obedience often still demanded even today says more about the psyche
of the trainer and nothing about the psyche of the dog.
- Should be free of any image complex and should not constantly boast about
how good he or she is and how bad all the others are. Co-operation and fairness
say a lot about a person's character!
- Continuing further education and regular review of his/her training methods should be a matter of course.
OBSERVE YOUR DOG -
Your dog should not only like to but be thrilled to go to "his" school. You should leave a dog school if your dog goes there only hesitantly and/or reluctantly, even after several training lessons. The dogs themselves are often the most reliable - and the most telling - barometer of the trainer's qualification and the quality of the school!
I am the founder of the dog school concept "Animal Learn" in Germany and have run my own dog school since 1993. I have made a video about Calming Signals with an introduction by Turid Rugaas (which is available from Dog Games Web Shop) and am in demand as a guest speaker both in Germany and abroad as I specialise in behavioural disorders in dogs.
You are welcome to visit my web site - www.animal-learn.de