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Guidelines for Selecting a Good Dog Trainer

September 1, 2015
Your golden retriever Archie must think you don’t get enough exercise. Three times daily, this rambunctious four-year-old dog rounds you up for a potty walk. He races down the street, dragging you behind him as you grab his leash. When he completes his business, and heads for home, you’ve had a vigorous cardio and resistance workout. Dog walks are supposed to be more enjoyable. Clearly, Archie needs some discipline. Your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian referred you to a well-known dog trainer who offers a basic obedience class. Before signing on the dotted line, observe the instructor in action.

Escape-Proof, Well-Equipped Facility

Your eighty-pound canine housemate has combined physical power with a disdain for authority. Because he’ll probably try to escape from the training facility, you’re pleased to see the heavy-duty exterior doors. You also see an instructor-posted sign requiring proof of current vaccinations before students can enter the class. Look for an uncluttered training room with a spic-and-span floor. The trainer should have paper towels and disinfectant for students’ little accidents. Because pet parents want nice facilities, look for spotless bathrooms containing sufficient toilet tissue, towels, soap, and cleaning supplies.

Canine/Human Interaction Encouraged

You (or another familiar family member) will partner with Archie during class. If your stubborn pooch consistently hears commands from a single person, the training is more likely to be successful. Finally, a course with six or fewer students will enable the instructor to give each dog personal attention.

Respect-Based Training Philosophy

A skilled dog trainer relies on respect-based training aids such as flat collars, head halters, and harnesses. She might also introduce toys and treats. If you spot negative training devices such as prong, choke, or electronic collars, don’t patronize that instructor.

Punishment Not Allowed

A competent, seasoned trainer conveys her commands with a normal voice. Don’t tolerate an instructor who screams or violently yanks the dogs’ leashes. If she hits, kicks, or otherwise abuses a trusting pooch, walk out immediately. Afterward, obtain details on the instructor’s credentials. If she belongs to a dog training organization, she’s likely serious about maintaining (and furthering) her skills. Finally, evaluate the trainer’s overall performance. If you’re impressed, enroll Archie into a class. When Archie next visits your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian, he should be a better-behaved pooch. If your dog should learn some manners, contact us for expert assistance.

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