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How to Choose a Trainer

Every dog, and their human, deserve to work with a great trainer. Dog training is a science, but the industry is (as yet) unregulated with no licensing requirements or regulatory oversight. 

We've included some guidance below on how to go about searching for and selecting a qualified trainer/behavior consultant.

Look for Certifications

Look for a trainer/behavior consultant that is educated about using science and behavior-based methods to make training more efficient. 

Some designations/certifying agencies to look for include:

The certifications organizations listed above have continuing education requirements for their members to maintain their professional status. 

Assess the Trainer

Browse the trainer/behavior consultant's website, social media accounts and any other marketing materials.


Some questions to ask yourself as you are reviewing materials:

  • Does everything look and sound professional?

  • Do they pledge to teach and train using force-free principles so that you and your dog develop a bond built on trust and respect?

  • Do the messages appeal to you? If so, set up a phone call or in-person meeting.

  • Can the trainer answer your questions about training, behavior, and methods knowledgeably and clearly? Are they patient and thorough in their replies? Do you feel comfortable with them?

  • Do they have experience working with the problems you need help with?

  • Can they provide references from clients?

  • Do they seek out and list the continuing education/workshops/seminars they have attended in recent years?

Beware of Red Flags

A couple of things should raise a red flag in your assessment. If the trainer/behavior consultant focuses on a model of dominance and submission—using language like “dominant,” “alpha,” and "pack leader/boss"—or uses primarily punishment-based methods, that person doesn’t meet the standards of science-based training. In addition, if they are unable to answer your questions or provide client references, you might be better off looking elsewhere for a professional.

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