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Red flags to look for when hiring a trainer

Did you know that to become a dog trainer you need exactly ZERO credentials? Did you know that the woman who does your hair or nails has to jump through more hoops to be able to work than someone who wants to work with your dog? Did you know that there have been trainers who have caused the death of a dog due to abuse or gross negligence, and were not liable to animal abuse and neglect charges because they could hold up a dog training book from the 1950's and claim it was the industry standard? (Information for just one case of this abuse can be found here: "Sarge's Law could bring new rules for dog trainers") If you didn't know any of the afore mentioned, then you are like the vast majority of consumers. Most people have no idea that there is NO consumer protection out there for people and their dogs, and that they are taking a gamble with their dog's physical and emotional well-being when hiring a dog trainer. Just like you would never trust any old schmoe from the street teach your child, you should be careful when hiring a dog trainer.

The following are some red flags to watch out for when hiring a dog trainer:

1) Guaranteed Results

Run. RUN the other way when you see these words. Guaranteeing results is unethical, irresponsible, and blatantly misrepresenting what we as trainers are doing. We are not reprogramming a computer. We are not fixing a broken pipe. We are attempting to change the neurochemistry of another living, breathing being. You'd never expect your therapist, psychologist, or school teacher to offer guaranteed results, so if someone who calls themselves a trainer guarantees results take note. And run.

2) "Self-taught" without certifications

I almost included just "self-taught", but I decided I'm going to say "self-taught" without certifications because the fact of the matter is that most dog trainers are at least somewhat self-taught. There is no university for dog trainers, and no central certifying body for trainers, so most trainers do have an amalgam of educational experiences, from books, webinars, unpaid internships, and possibly a few more regulated schools for dog training (Pat Miller's Dog Training Academies (where I have studied personally), Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers, and Karen Pryor's Academy come to mind). However, many responsible dog trainers will belong to professional organizations such as the