Dog with his trainer

Some dogs have unhealthy behaviors and no matter how hard their owners try to break them of these habits, they are unsuccessful. Some people who have these hard to train dogs simply give up and take their dog to a shelter. Especially in cases like these, dog obedience training is a critical tool. Through obedience training, groundwork is established that will help improve the relationship between a dog and his owner. Dog obedience training works to incorporate self-discipline in the dog’s behavior. The dog learns that certain behaviors will not be tolerated. After obedience training becomes intertwined into a dog’s behavior, he will learn to respond correctly with appropriate actions.

Why hire a professional? Because a knowledgeable coach or an obedience school is trained extensively in how to approach the behavior of dogs. Whether the obedience training is handled at someone’s home, by a professional coach or in an obedience school, there are several things to consider in order to select the right trainer for your dog. Here are some issues that must be taken into account.

Choosing the Right Dog Trainer

To locate a dog trainer in your area, try a general web search, check the phone book or ask your local shelter. You can also use the APDT Online Trainer Search.

A dog trainer should be both professional and have good character. According to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, here are several questions you should ask a potential dog trainer in your area.

  • What training method do you use? Is it primarily reward-based?
  • What is your educational background?
  • Have you undergone any recent continuing education classes?
  • What equipment do you use?
  • What kind of follow-up do you provide?
  • Do you have a list of clients I can contact for references?
  • Do you belong to any professional associations?
  • What are your credentials and do you have any certifications?
  • Do you offer any additional services such as sports training or service dog training?
  • May I watch you train?
  • Do you guarantee results?
  • How long have you been training professionally?

Red Flags

APDT also indicates that there are several red flags to look for, to let you know you should choose someone else. One red flag is if they guarantee a successful outcome. Another is if they won’t let you watch them train your dog. They should never rely on harsh, painful or forceful methods. They shouldn’t refer to treats as “bribes,” nor should they focus heavily on the word “dominance.” They shouldn’t brag about all the times they have been bitten or tell you your dog is displaying human emotions such as jealousy, spite or guilt.

Training Should Be Enjoyable

Just because your dog is being coached in proper obedience doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyable for him or her. Your dog doesn’t understand why he needs to be trained. Therefore, for him to follow the commands, the training should happen in such a way that he views the training as something that is fun. Your dog is likely to react positively if he sees that every time he follows instructions, he will receive rewards or praises while he is having fun.


In the course of obedience training, it is essential for both the trainer and the dog owner to establish consistency. For example, if a dog was allowed to jump up on you one day, and not on another, this creates confusion. Consistency is important so that your dog is clear on what he can and cannot do.

Moving Forward

Now that you have done your homework and found the right trainer, what happens next?

The trainer may ask you for proof of vaccinations for your pet. Most likely you will be asked to complete and sign an enrollment and waiver form that specifies what your goals of the training are. Be sure to confirm agreed payment arrangements and fees with your trainer.

Whether you have decided on private training or in a classroom setting, it is important to make sure you are practicing at home what your dog has learned in class. This will help you and your dog to make serious progress together.

Don’t be afraid to ask your trainer why a particular exercise might work for your dog, or what the logic is behind it. Through proper training, you should expect to create a closer bond between you and your pet, establishing a more confident relationship.