We've compiled a list of talking points to ensure you hire a dog trainer that you know you can trust.
Unlike veterinary positions, dog training is a completely unregulated industry. This means you, right now, with your current amount of animal behavior & psychology knowledge, can go open up a dog behavior facility and start taking clients immediately (I don't recommend it, of course) and it would be completely legal. This means any "professional dog trainer" could just be an average Joe Schmoe in disguise.
A quality trainer will have had a mentor, possibly attended a training academy, has read multiple books, and regularly attends conferences and seminars. Although it's important, in the training world, experience alone is not enough. Simply owning a dog could be enough for a trainer to say they have XX years of experience in dog training. It's imperative to ensure a trainer has been keeping up to date with the latest science and research in the behavior industry.
Where did you learn the things you know?
Which trainer(s) do you strive to model yourself after?
What books would you recommend that I read?
Every trainer starts somewhere, and you should absolutely not disqualify a well-educated trainer just because they have not been doing it professionally for a long period of time. However, if the behavior problems your dog is experiencing are pretty severe, choose a trainer with a combination of education and several years of experience. Since every dog is slightly different, trainers become more and more skilled as they work with more dogs. The only way to develop this skill level is to be active in the profession for a number of years.
How long have you been training dogs as a full time trainer?
Have you worked with my breed of dog before?
Can you detail some of the success you've had with the [insert behavior problem] my dog is experiencing?
Due to the fact that dog training is still an unregulated industry, there are no laws or legislation about what types of methods are legal or illegal. Some methods in dog training are considered quite outdated, and are geared toward getting the fastest result without regard for the animal's mental health. For example, harmfully striking a dog for jumping up on you might get them to stop jumping right away, but at what cost? Now the handler has instilled fear into the dog, and the dog may be afraid of future interactions with the handler, such as grooming. We have no intention to police or monitor the training tools that others are using, but we feel it is important that you, the pet parent, be aware of what might happen to your dog during training.
What training tools do you utilize in training?
Are there any tools that you refuse to use on any dog?
What will happen to my dog when he gets something right?
What will happen to my dog when he gets something wrong?
Do you have videos of yourself training a behavior from start to finish that I can watch?
Good business practices can mall all the difference in your customer experience with a dog training company. Even if it's your first time hiring a trainer, we want you to have an amazing experience. We want you to experience a company that sets reasonable expectations, is 100% transparent, communicates thoroughly and consistently, has a reasonable dog-to-trainer ratio, and never guarantees results that they cannot (in good faith) predict.
Can I take a full tour of your property?
[For board & train facilities] What is the maximum amount of dogs you will take at one time?
What is the maximum number of dogs one trainer will work with in a day?
How much time does my dog spend out of a crate/kennel per day?
Do you guarantee your training?