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How to Pick a Dog Trainer

Updated on July 12, 2016

Adkins works with a two year old Great Dane!

Adkins working with a two year old male Euro Harlequin Great Dane named Patriot!
Adkins working with a two year old male Euro Harlequin Great Dane named Patriot! | Source
Adkins teaching Patriot to stay.
Adkins teaching Patriot to stay. | Source
Adkins teaching Patriot to lay down.
Adkins teaching Patriot to lay down. | Source
Adkins working with a seven month old male Calahoula for the first time.
Adkins working with a seven month old male Calahoula for the first time. | Source
Adkins working with a six year old male Chihuahua for the first time.
Adkins working with a six year old male Chihuahua for the first time. | Source
Adkins showing how a well trained dog can be controlled by a five year old child.
Adkins showing how a well trained dog can be controlled by a five year old child. | Source

What Kind of Trainer are you looking for?

In a recent interview with expert dog trainer Jennifer Adkins about choosing the right dog trainer she made several suggestions to help narrow down the search. One of the suggestions Adkins made was to make a list of questions to ask a potential trainer before hiring them. Think about what kind of training your dog needs, and what kind of temperament does your dog have when looking for a trainer. After you know these things you can better make a decision based on the answers to these questions.

Adkins said that one of the most important questions to ask a trainer is "what kind of qualifications they have to train your pet? Are they credentialed or do they carry any certifications?"(personal interview, 2013) Dog training can be expensive so it is important to know that they can achieve what they are being paid to do. Do they have references?

Other things to consider when hiring a dog trainer are what method of training do they use? There are three basic types of training used when training dogs. The first is the lure-reward training which involves using food or treats in your hand to get the dog to perform the action you desire and then feeding it to the dog.. The dog is also generally praised for doing the action correctly. A second type of dog method commonly used is reinforcement or compulsion-praise training. This basically is where the trainer or owner physically places the dog how they want them and then praises them. This action is done repeatedly until the dog automatically does the command correctly. An example would be if the trainer pushed down on the back of the dog to get them to sit, Then upon the dog sitting they would be praised. A third type of training is the marker method. In this the trainer may use a clicker which is immediately clicked each time the dog gets the command correct.

Adkins said that trainers often choose between these methods based on the dog. Factors such as age and previous training can make one method work better than another. Some dogs will naturally respond better to praise and may not be as interested in a treat. Dogs like people have different personalities and temperaments that should be considered in choosing a training method. A dog that really wants to please his owner may do extremely well using the compulsion-praise method, whereas, a dog that has attention issues might do better using the lure-reward method. A dog that has been mistreated by a previous owner may take a little extra coaxing and patience.

Some trainers prefer to teach a group of dogs at once while others prefer teaching one dog at a time. Who will actively participate in the dog training sessions needs to be addressed. At least one person needs to actively be involved learning the lessons each week and working with the dog at home. Often the whole family needs to work with the dog, so that he will listen well to everyone in the family. If you have children will the trainer allow your children to participant? These are some very important considerations to think about when choosing a trainer for your dog.

Talk to your trainer about how they suggest you work on behavior issues. Different trainers use different approaches here too. Some may suggest using a shock collar which gives the animal a small shock by remote control when they do a behavior that is undesirable. While others may suggest if a dog has a behavior, such as, jumping up on you that you simple ignore the behavior by simple turning away. Each trainer may have a very different way of handling negative behaviors and encouraging positive ones.

Probably one of the most important suggestions that Adkins had was to only choose a trainer that carefully screens dogs to make sure they have had all their shots for not only your dogs safety, but your own. If a dog bites you in a group training you will want to know they have had their rabies shots. You should also make sure they have had in addition to their normal vaccines the Bortitellia Shot for kennel cough. Some things such as heart worm can kill your dog and can be gotten through exposure to another dog. Prevention is key to keeping your dog healthy and safe.

Following these simple steps and suggestions should help anyone looking to find a trainer for their pet. Just remember you are the best judge of what your family’s needs are for your dog. Follow your gut instinct if you don't like a potential trainer’s answer to your question then you probably will not enjoy training your dog very much and the chances of success will be greatly diminished. Training takes time, but should be enjoyable if you work with the right trainer.

In a recent follow up with Adkins we discussed dogs that have been brought up in a puppy mill. We also discussed how being adopted from a rescue center by the right person can be critical to the success of their training. She recently adopted a Doberman who had been in a cage his entire life in a puppy mill. All of his siblings were put down because of their aggressive behavior. She has been having success with the remaining dog retraining him, but he had to have a completely different approach from the way she trained her other two dogs. If you adopt a dog that has been abused it is very important to find the correct trainer to help make their transition a successful one. If you have further questions on choosing a dog trainer you can email Adkins at

Rescue Animals

Do you think smaller breeds are easier to train than big breeds of dogs?

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    • profile image

      jenniyad2011 4 years ago

      Always wonderful to see a child that has been taught how the interact with animals. Great article, cant wait to read the next article you put out Rebecca!

    • Rebecca Reagan profile image

      Rebecca Reagan 4 years ago from Texas

      Jan, Thank you so much for taking the time to read my articles. Rebecca

    • Jan Wiese profile image

      Jan Wiese 4 years ago from Odessa, Texas

      This is a very good article and I enjoyed the tips very much. I will use this information to the benefit of my dog and me! This writer is very knowledgeable and interesting.