Choosing a pet trainer

Find a pet trainer who'll teach Spot some manners.

Proper obedience training is vital to a positive pet/owner relationship, and there are many professionals out there who help pet owners reach their training goals. See these profiles of obedience schools.

There are a few misconceptions about what obedience training entails. Here are a few things to look for in a great program:

  • (Obedience) School should be fun

  • When we hear the words "obedience training," you may envision a setting in which misbehavior is punished. In truth, a good obedience training program is all about positive reinforcement, making it desirable and even fun for you and your pet.

    When you visit a school, ask to sit in on a class. If the animals aren't enjoying themselves, or if the curriculum is based entirely on negative reinforcement, the class may not be right for your pet. And if you see any treatment that you deem inhumane, talk to local animal control officers.

  • The obedience training is flexible

  • Prior to beginning a program, you should have an open dialogue with your trainer in which you outline your dog's behavior, your goals and the trainer offers recommendations for correction and achievement. Your trainer should be knowledgeable about different breeds and their unique temperaments as well as any special training needs.

  • The obedience trainers are certified

  • As in other service businesses, many obedience trainers have earned a variety of awards and commendations. Look for certification by a recognized organization like the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors.

  • You are the most important student in the class

  • Often, pet owners will undo effective training by giving misguided or confusing commands and reinforcement. It's important that your trainer give you as many pointers as your pet. Ask for written instructions when the training is complete so you don't forget anything.

    Remember that training takes an ongoing commitment that lasts long beyond the final class. But, with good professional help you'll start out on the right foot (and paw).


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