Finding the Right Dog Trainer for Your Family

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 8.14.31 AMChoosing a dog trainer can seem like a daunting task! What’s with the alphabet soup after my name? How do I know which trainer is the right fit for me? How will they treat my dog? Just a few of the questions to ask before hiring a professional dog trainer. Read on to learn what other questions to ask!

I’ve been there guys. I’ve been delighted to have met some wonderful trainers along the way. I’ve also been taken for a ride, with well known trainers, that definitely set back my dog’s progress. If I could do it all over again, here’s exactly what I’d do!

I’d start with some alphabet soup. You’ll notice I list CPDT-KA after my name. That means I have been awarded the Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed ccpdt-logo-stacked-web-lgcertification by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Choosing an independently certified trainer like myself means you are choosing a trainer who was evaluated by an independent body – not a school that may profit from “certifying” students. My certification requires an independent testing process as well as continuing education each year. Finding a certified trainer is easy!  Visit CCPDT.ORG to find a certified trainer near you!

The next part can be a little trickier. Ask a lot of questions and use your gut. Here’s the first 3 questions you should ask a trainer. I’ll post my answers below for comparison.

1) What happens when my dog gets it right?

A positive reinforcement, science based trainer like me will reinforce good behavior. That may mean handing out yummy treats, playing with a favorite tug toy, or praise and petting. I have a number of positive reinforcers in my toolbox! I focus on teaching our dogs behaviors we want them to do (using positive reinforcement) so they learn based on choice!

2) What happens when my dog gets it wrong?

Simply try again (and go back a step)! When our dogs make mistakes, it likely means we made a mistake. Next time around, we may work harder to set our dogs up for success by reducing distractions in the environment or using better reinforcers like yummier treats! Try exercising your dog before training sessions to prevent bad behavior! Again, my toolbox is full of ways to help your dog get it right the first time around!
A note: Some trainers may respond to this question by suggesting the use of punishment. If so, run for the hills. There is no need for punishment if you set your dog up for success.

3) Is there a less aversive method?

This would be a question to ask if you were speaking with a trainer that uses force and punishment to train. If a trainer uses these techniques, there is always a less aversive way! Be extra cautious if the trainer uses words like “alpha” or “dominant” or “pack leader” in their answers. These theories were debunked many years ago and may be a sign that they are not up to date on current, best practice dog training methods.

Check Online Reviews like Google

google reviews

By taking the time to read reviews from different trainers, you have the opportunity to get to know a trainer before even talking with them. Be sure to read both the positive and negative reviews. Sometimes the positive reviews are so vague that they aren’t helpful. Sometimes the negative reviews aren’t bad at all, sometimes they are truly terrible. Know that business owners simply can not edit, delete, or change comments in any way. All a business owner can do is reply. Look for a trainer that replies to comments and communicates well. 

You can view my reviews on Google by visiting Andrea Kutzko Dog Trainer on Google.

Grill the Trainer

Keep asking questions! Here’s a few examples, with my quick responses.

Be sure you ask about the following:

Certification: I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). I have been certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. I have been certified since 2015.

Experience: I worked with a number of professional trainers prior to opening Andrea Kutzko Dog Training. In 2013, I began training professionally. I have earned numerous certifications, certificates, and mentored under many local trainers during this time.

Don’t expect a trainer to spend more than 10 minutes or so on the phone before scheduling your appointment. Take that time to ask as many questions as you can!

So you’ve done a little research and think you’ve found a great trainer.Wonderful! The trainer answered all the questions right. Does that mean that you’ve found “the one”? Hopefully so!  There’s still a few more things you should discuss.

First, does the trainer 11060469-give-me-fiveoffer a guarantee? That’s a big no-no. There are too many variables to offer guarantees in dog training!  Consider if the trainer was patient and thorough when answering your questions. Make sure that they have availability that works with your schedule. You need to feel comfortable with this person and I would leave that last detail up to your gut!

If you’re ready to sign up, you can follow this link to Petco’s registration page. You can also stop in the store to sign up!


Leave a comment! Tell us how this article helped you find the right dog trainer for you and your family!

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