Top Ten Warning Signs when Hiring a Dog Trainer


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There are many things you need to be cautious of when looking for a dog trainer. A good dog trainer /dog behaviorist is a professional with whom you should feel comfortable and safe. Naturally, if a dog trainer refuses to or cannot provide you with references it is an obvious cautionary sign. However there are several others signs you should be aware of.

  1. Be wary of a dog trainer claiming to be the only one capable of helping your dog.
  2. Avoid a trainer that blames you entirely for your dog’s bad behavior. Although owners do influence their dog’s behavior there are other factors that factor in to understanding your pet such as breed, age, medical condition, and early experiences.
  3. A trainer should never guarantee results. Guaranteeing results as a dog trainer is unethical and impossible. The APDT code of ethics clearly states: “Members refrain from giving guarantees regarding the outcome of training, because there is no sure way to guarantee the cooperation and performance of all parties involved and because the knowledge of animal behavior is incomplete.”
  4. Dog trainers who spend more time promoting books, products, doing TV/ Radio shows or seminars than training dogs should be avoided.
  5. If a trainer tries to separate you from your dog claiming that they can get results faster without you being around this is a clear sign of incompetence.
  6. Any dog trainer that offers phone or email consultations should be avoided. More often than not trainers that do this are more concerned about getting your money than solving your problem. It is impossible to asses a dog’s behavioral problems without observing them in person.
  7. Beware of a dog trainer that tells you how quickly they can correct your dog’s behaviors or how many lessons will be needed without working with your dog first.
  8. Stay away from dog trainers that have no professional affiliations. They should be affiliated with the APDT, the NK9DTA, the NADOI or another similar association.
  9. Avoid any trainer that admits to using aggressive tactics or force to train a dog.
  10. Most importantly, never choose a dog trainer that seems uncomfortable or fearful in your dog’s presence. Good dog trainers should like dogs and interact with them naturally.


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Tatiana is a Los Angeles, CA based dog care and behavior counselor with 26 years of experience working with dogs and their families. She holds a M.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior.