These are the next two questions pet owners should ask potential trainers. Please read the first part located here.
3. What is your educational background in dog training & behavior? Where did you learn to become a trainer?
Because the law does not require licensing or formal training for dog trainers, anyone can call themselves one. There is no one-way to become trainer and people approach it in many different ways.
Schools & Programs
There are schools and programs people can attend and they range from in-depth courses that take several months or more to complete to the weekend dog training school where after two days you are a “certified trainer”. There are both online only courses and hands-on programs as well as some that combine both.
If the trainer you are interviewing attended a school or program, ask for specifics about the course such as did anyone who attended pass or was there a standard that must be passed? Get the web address of the program and the contact information so that you can check it out.
Now, attending a program is not the only way to become a trainer and many wonderful trainers never attended one for a variety of reasons.
Another way that a young trainer gets their start is by apprenticing under another trainer, learning and studying from them. Just like with the schools and programs, there are some great trainers you can study under as well as some not-so-great ones.
Books, DVDs, Seminars
Othere trainers are so propelled by their thirst for knowledge and/or did not have a way to otherwise learn about dog training that they educated themselves. This was done by reading books on a variety of topics written by great dog trainers and either attending seminars or conferences and/or watching them on DVD.
This last one should not be confused with “trainers” who have no other training besides owning dogs all there life and always being good with them. Dog training is a complex field of study and requires an understanding of behavior science, how dogs learn and understand and more.
The best trainers will have studied through books and seminars plus apprenticed under another trainer for some time and/or attended a program. You should always ask for specifics on a trainers education so that you may be sure they have the background to help you and your dog.
4. What are some recent continuing education events that you attended?
Building on the fact that dog training is built around behavior science, the information is ever-evolving and changing for the better. For this reason, continuing education is absolutely vital for every dog trainer. In addtion to furthing the trainers own knowledge and understanding of dog behavior & training, it also helps them to be able to offer clients with the most up-to-date and effective techniques to help dogs and their loving owners.
Continuing education can take a few forms. Attendance to seminars and conferences is my favorite way of learning more because in addition to hearing from amazing speakers, you get to meet other trainers who also understand the need for continuing education. Online seminars are another type and allow trainers from all over the world to learn more on topics that would cost them hundreds or more to see in person because of travel costs. Lastly, trainers can buy or rent seminars that have been recorded on DVD. These can be very handy because you can pause, rewind and rewatch whenever you want to be sure to get the most out of the experience.
Look for trainers that take their education seriously and whom have attended at least one continuing education event in the past year and a half. Some trainers believe after a certain point they know enough and wouldn’t benefit from attending another event but this is never the case. There is always more to learn and grow.