Qualities of a good dog trainer


Pallavi Bhattacharya
Every child needs a good teacher. The same holds true for your canine kids as well. If you don’t know how to communicate with your canine child in a way that he learns to comprehend fundamental instructions and listen to you, you may need to hire a rainer.
When you appoint a home tutor for your child, you take utmost care that the teacher is knowledgeable, can impart knowledge comprehensively, is patient and disciplines the child without psychologically traumatising him. While hiring a dog trainer, you need to look for similar attributes. Every dog needs to learn basic obedience. These are the 10 traits which you should look out for in a dog trainer.

1 Having the requisite qualifications

A person has to have the required knowledge to train your pet properly. That can only come through formal education. The trainer needs to have a professional degree in canine behaviour counselling and dog training from a reputed training school or mentor. This will ensure that he uses scientific methods to train dogs; consequently the results will be reliable. Years of experience is an added bonus.

2 Progressive methods instead of regressive methods

A bad trainer will abide by harsh training methods which encompass the use of prong collars, choke chains and electric collars. He may also inflict corporal punishment on the dog and intimidate him thinking it is helpful for the dog. A good trainer will use gentle, dog friendly and progressive reinforcement means instead. He will strengthen behaviours which are recommended, redirect and manage behavioural problems, take care that the dog doesn’t get stressed and will always use pain free teaching methods.

3 Will make an initial assessment of your dog

Every dog’s calibre and temperament is different. Training needs to be moulded to suit the dog’s need. A good trainer will ask the pet parent many questions related to their pet, focussing on how their pet fares in various scenarios, in presence of different kinds of stimuli, with other dogs, children and strangers. A skilled trainer is good at reading dogs. On spending just a while with your pet, he should be able to come up with a good evaluation. If he is unable to assess your pet’s ability, then he isn’t the right person for the job.

4 Chalk out a training plan

Just like school teachers make lesson plans, hard working animal trainers will also etch out a plan to teach furry kids. This will be done after your pet has been properly assessed by the trainer. Pet parents need to be kept in the loop regarding the plan and the progress of their pet. The plan needs to be flexible; it may have to be changed if need be. Some trainers may simply abide by textbook knowledge, innovative trainers will always be ready to think out of the box and be truly creative with their training methods.

5 Training your pet in your presence

A good teacher will always be confident of his teaching methods and be agreeable to train your pet in your presence. A trainer ideally shouldn’t be teaching when pet parents aren’t home. Pet parents also need to witness the training, so that they also learn how to train their dogs. A trainer who insists on working without your presence may be using methods which can cause physical and emotional harm to your pet. So be careful. My cousin’s Labrador named Tequila started his training. The trainer used to ask for biscuits as treats. My cousin used to give a handful of Parle-G biscuits. A couple of days later they saw the trainer walking the dog in the society compound and happily eating the biscuits himself. We all should learn a lesson – try and give dog biscuits as treats and keep an eye on the trainer as much as possible.

6 Teaching beyond the basic commands

Learning basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘stand’ is just the ABC of dog training. Training doesn’t mean simply imparting basic knowledge that a dog needs for performing daily activities mechanically. Dog training sans value education is just meaningless. A dog must be familiarised with obedience training as well. He should be taught the difference between good and bad behaviour. There are non-verbal ways in which a dog can be trained how to say ‘please’, through his eyes and body language.

7 Sense of humour

Isn’t it boring to sit through drab classes? Humour, not only makes classes’ fun, but facilitates easy learning. This holds true not just for humans but for canines as well. On those dull days when your pet has a hard time picking up the lesson, if the trainer adds sparkles of humour here and there it’ll be a great encouragement. Dogs will feel the positive energy. If the trainer acts grim and stern instead, then the dog may get demoralised. Many pet parents tend to dismiss the necessity of a dog trainer possessing a sense of humour; however this is a crucial pre-requisite.

8 Patience

Patience is an important attribute for every profession, especially for teaching. Each dog has a different aptitude and temperament. If a dog has slow learning milestones, the trainer should be understanding and never vent his frustration on the canine. The trainer should be ready to explain repeatedly till the dog understands. It’s a challenge to tame aggressive dogs; good trainers keep their cool and never give up.

9 Whether the trainer has an exemplary dog

If the trainer himself doesn’t have a dog, it may raise some doubts as to whether he really loves dogs. If his own dog turns out to be a spoiled brat, aggressive or unduly fretful, it’s likely that he will not have much luck with your pet. If his dog turns out to be obedient and confident, chances are that he may be able to groom your pet rather well. Also ascertain if his pet shares a close bond with him.

10 Credible client references

References can be genuine or fake ones. Bogus references may be scripted by the trainer himself or penned by close friends and relatives of the trainer. If an instructor provides the contact numbers or emails of his previous clients, there may be greater chances that their dogs were actually taught by the coach. You need to go through the  testimonials to ascertain if the trainer has been praised on the aspects in 9. Online search engines often list and rate dog trainers, a cumulative star rating is calculated based on all the ratings which have come in. Just like your search endlessly for the best teacher for your kids, don’t compromise on a dog trainer. After all, your four-legged kids deserve nothing but the best.