2018-08-10 / Front Page / Pets

Kids and canines go back to school

By Phyllis Beasley, CPDT-KA Owner/Lead Trainer, Praise Dog! Training, LLC www.praiseyourdogtraining.com

The AVSAB states that trainers who routinely use choke collars, pinch collars, shock collars (e-collars) or other methods of physical punishment as a primary training method should be avoided. Here a student is using a front clip harness to assist in training walking nicely.Picture provided by Praise Dog! Training, LLC The AVSAB states that trainers who routinely use choke collars, pinch collars, shock collars (e-collars) or other methods of physical punishment as a primary training method should be avoided. Here a student is using a front clip harness to assist in training walking nicely.
Picture provided by Praise Dog! Training, LLC
You’ve got their backpacks, pencils, binders, and new shoes. Now it’s time to suit up your dog with a new collar and leash, and put on your treat pouch… it’s time for everyone to go to school.

It is probably easier to decide where your child should go to school than to select a trainer for your dog. Your friends or coworkers may all have suggestions or opinions about the “ best” trainer. Unfortunately, there are no licensing requirements for trainers and no national registry or criteria for ranking or reporting complaints. Dog training is an unregulated profession.

So how do you find the best trainer for you and your dog? Your dog is your best friend. He has no voice in the choices you make and his welfare. The decision you make when selecting a trainer can permanently affect your relationship with your dog and his confidence and happiness.


Observe a class. Both human and canine students should enjoy the training. 
Picture provided by Woof University, LLC Observe a class. Both human and canine students should enjoy the training. Picture provided by Woof University, LLC Luckily several national organizations have published guidelines to help including The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB).

Below are the guidelines (in bold) provided by the AVSAB. The explanations for each recommendation have been shortened and edited for space

The full document can be found at avsab.org/how-to-select-a-dog-trainer-acvb-guidelines/.

1. Reward- based training. There are numerous ways to train dogs.


Ask questions when considering private training as well as for classes. 
Picture provided by Pawsitively Obedient Ask questions when considering private training as well as for classes. Picture provided by Pawsitively Obedient The AVSAB endorses training methods which allow dogs to work for things that motivate them such as food or play and rather than techniques that focus on using fear or pain to punish them for undesirable behaviors.

The AVSAB explains modern research has proven dogs do not need to be physically punished to learn. The risks associated with using punishment include increasing fear, triggering, or increasing aggression and inhibiting learning.

The AVSAB states trainers who routinely use choke collars, pinch collars, shock collars (ecollars), or other methods of physical punishment as a pr imary method should be avoided.

2. Good teacher. A good instructor will explain the whys and hows of training a behavior and will demonstrate. Class size should be small and have an assistant to help if the class is larger.


Class size should be small or there should be an assistant to ensure that all class members receive adequate attention. 
Picture provided by Praise Dog! Training, LLC Class size should be small or there should be an assistant to ensure that all class members receive adequate attention. Picture provided by Praise Dog! Training, LLC 3. Continual education. Ask the trainer how often they seek continuing education and what types of continuing education they have recently attended. Workshops, conferences, and webinars are readily available for trainers.

A note on certifications: many dog training certifications are provided by a specific school or business. If your trainer states he or she is certified, ask the source of the certification and explore the criteria of that source. You may also want to ask if that certification requires continuing education or recertification.

4. Respectful. The trainer should be respectful of you and your dog. The trainer should respect your dog by not pushing him into position, hitting or choking, or correcting him with a device with the potential to harm him such as a choke chain or prong collar. The trainer should never criticize you about the speed of your dog’s progress.


Training should be people- and dog-friendly. Participation in the training by all family members should be welcomed. 
Picture provided by Woof University, LLC Training should be people- and dog-friendly. Participation in the training by all family members should be welcomed. Picture provided by Woof University, LLC 5. Observe a class. This may be one of the most important recommendations. Actions speak louder than words. Are the people and the dogs happy in class? Are they having fun? If the trainer refuses, ask him or her why. You can ask to observe private training sessions, but if the sessions are conducted in a home, observation may not be possible.

A tip I provide is to look for a class or trainer that encourages participation by all family members, including children. Training your dog should be a family project; after the training is complete you want your dog to respond to all family members.

6. Do you feel comfortable? Listen to your instincts. If the instructor asks you to do something with your dog that makes you uncomfortable, or if he or she treats your dog in a way you are uncomfortable, look elsewhere.

7. There are no guarantees. Dogs are living, breathing, sentient beings and nature is not always predictable, therefore a conscientious trainer cannot and will not provide a guarantee. However, the trainer should be willing to ensure satisfaction of their services.

8. Vaccinations. A good instructor will have vaccination requirements to protect your dog and will discourage owners from bringing sick dogs to class.

9. Problem behaviors. When dealing with problem behaviors such as aggression, fear, or fighting a good trainer will feel comfortable collaborating with your veterinarian.

Many problem behaviors are rooted in physical problems or are medical disorders.

A good trainer knows when to seek help from another professional. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to assist with the behavior modification once an assessment has been conducted. However, a trainer is not qualified to recommend specific medications or to assess the risks and benefits of the medications for your dog.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. Interview each trainer as carefully as you would if you were selecting your child’s school. Spending a little bit of time carefully selecting your trainer will help you and your dog enjoy a lifetime of pleasant companionship.

Return to top