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How to Choose a Dog Trainer

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Statement on Choosing a Trainer

How to Choose a Dog Trainer

Excerpted from Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Training your dog should be fun! Make sure you will have fun by checking out the trainer before you begin.

Check if the trainer:

  1. uses training methods which are not harmful to you or your dog.

    2.   allows and encourages you to observe a class prior to making the decision to enroll. In a well-run class, dogs and people will be enjoying themselves and having a successful learning experience.

     3. is approachable and who encourages you to have a good time. If space permits, the trainer should welcome and encourage all family members and others who interact with the dog to attend class.

    4. provides the following:

  • a clear explanation of each lesson
  • a demonstration of the behavior(s) that you will be teaching to your dog
  • clear instructions and written handouts on how to teach the behavior(s)
  • ample time in class to begin practicing the day's lesson
  • individual assistance with proper implementation of techniques

5. encourages questions and is courteous to canine and human clients.

6. uses training tools and methods you are comfortable with. Tools should be humane, not harmful to the dog, and should avoid procedures or training devices that cause the dog pain, distress, or that have potential for physical harm.

7. stays informed about new training tools and techniques.

8. takes  ongoing educational courses and/or is a member of educational organizations.

9. takes care to protect your dog's health in a group setting.

  • Ask if dogs and puppies are required to be vaccinated prior to class and, if so, which vaccines are required. Make sure you and your veterinarian are comfortable with the vaccination requirements.


  • You have the absolute right to stop any trainer or other animal care professional who, in your opinion, is causing your dog harm or distress.

Current clients are a valuable source of information for you. Attending a group class gives you the opportunity to ask clients how they feel about their experience - if they are enjoying the class and feel that their training needs and goals are being met.

Because of variables in dog breeding and temperament and owner commitment and experience, a trainer cannot and should not guarantee the results of his/her training. However, a trainer can and should be willing to ensure your satisfaction with the professional services.