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Choosing a Trainer

Finding the right trainer for your family can be a daunting task. We’ve included some simple advice to help you locate a professional trainer that is right for you.
Check several sources when looking for a trainer. Our Find A Trainer link is a great place to start. You may want to visit other professional associations websites, such as the APDT, and look for a trainer search. By accessing the sites you will find professionals – but that doesn’t mean that trainer is the right trainer for you.
Try contacting your veterinary clinic, talk to other dog owners, shelters, and you can ask your groomer for recommendations. Many trainers are listed in phonebooks and on the internet. So a good search of your local listings can be fruitful.  You will still want to screen for the right fit.
Have a list of questions ready when you contact the trainers so you can compare. A professional should be prepared to answer all your questions. Aside from the regular considerations of price, class options, etc.; try asking if you can observe a class. A confident professional will not object. They may have expectations about your level of participation during the class (i.e. an observer should not consume class time that other participants have paid for). 
Ask yourself the following questions when you observe a class:

  • Did the trainer explain the exercises in a clear and easily understood manner? 
  • Did the trainer take the time to assist each attendee with the exercises? 
  • Did the participants look like they were having fun? (You may not think this is important but when the class is enjoyable you’ll be more willing to attend.) 
  • How did the dogs seem to enjoy the class? Was the trainer concerned about the dog’s enjoyment?
  • Was the class structured and organized?
  • What support does the trainer provide? i.e. take home information, contact information if you get stuck at home after the class, etc.

After observing a class, ask the trainer questions about what you observed. A couple of thoughtful questions can be all the difference in finding the right trainer for you!
Another great question for the trainer is how does he/she educate themselves about dog behaviour and health on an ongoing basis.
One of the most critical observations you can make is the ability to talk to the trainer. Do you feel comfortable approaching the trainer and asking questions? It’s important to feel like you can ask questions. Like any other professional in your life – you must be prepared to have a working relationship with this person. Many dog owners attend more than one class so long term fit is important.
Good luck with your search!

The Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers neither endorses nor recommends any of the trainers listed on our database. It is the responsibility of the consumer to interview and research any trainers and their services.