top of page

 Choosing a Dog Trainer 

The best trainer for you

As a trainer, advice given affects the quality of life for the dog, surrounding family, and ultimately, the community.  As a client; at best, bad advice received is just simply, ineffective; but at its worst (or somewhere in between), it could have life-long unwanted consequences.

“Choosing a dog trainer can be one of the most important decisions that you make in your dog’s life.  The techniques that a trainer uses can strongly affect how you interact with your dog for years to come. Therefore, it is very important to choose your trainer wisely.” 

(American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior [AVSAB], Position Statement)

Make a short-list of trainers in your area who pique your interest and who also fit the points we’ve provided for you in the checklist below:

  • The trainer’s program/philosophy are focused on and committed to improving and protecting the overall quality of life and relationship between you and your dog.

  • The trainer's program methodology is primarily reward-based.

  • Your trainer should have a minimum of 5 years of full‐time, proven professional experience working with all breed types and ages. In addition to experience, the professional trainer continues to grow and develop through client and peer knowledge sharing, higher education opportunities and practice.

  • Trainer should be professionally established within a local community AND is recommended by local veterinarians, clients and other dog professionals

  • Welcomes you to observe their program and ask questions before making a commitment; ask yourself, "Is this trainer and program aligned with my training values and goals?"

  • Uses control and reward (touch, praise, activity, toys, food) as their primary modification method; does NOT use or encourage methods that cause pain, fear, anger, anxiety or mistrust. 

  • Has practiced and is knowledgeable of a number of different training approaches and is well‐rounded in dog training and behavior modification; teaches general aspects of owning a dog: environment, interaction, play/exercise, socialization, single-command structure, behavior modification and care

  • Is experienced, specifically in the behavior that YOU are most concerned about (fear, anxiety, aggression, etc.); and is experienced, specifically in the training direction that you have interest in (i.e., basic and/or competition obedience, agility, field work, therapy dog work, etc.)

  • Does not profess to and is not limited to teaching only one “best” method (a one-size fits all approach)

  • Is not critical of other trainers, rather provides education and guidance as to what you should be looking for, and why

  • Is knowledgeable of latest training trends, theories and methods; attends applicable workshops and conferences; trainer(s) participate in and/or are members of professional dog training organization(s)

  • Trainer and assistant trainers are good teachers; communicating clearly and effectively; enjoying their work with dogs AND people!

  • Is available for personal assistance and is responsive to your questions

  • Safety is paramount; rules of safe operation are communicated and followed by all

  • Requires all dogs attending classes to be healthy and as current as appropriate on vaccinations

Basics that you and your dog should experience and learn in a basic dog training class (ages 4 months and up):


  • Environmental control

  • Leadership interaction

  • Constructive exercise and play

  • Loose lead walking

  • Constructive socialization

  • Walking at heel

  • 6 reward system

  • Training equipment types and purposes

  • Sit, down, stand, stay, heel, release and come when called

  • Reliable single-command structure

  • Effective control and reward based behavior modification

  • Stimulation desensitization/distraction training

  • Boundary training

  • Separation anxiety (preventing and addressing)

  • Crate training

  • Tricks

  • Fears and aggression (preventing and addressing)

  • Responsible barking

  • Civilized greetings

  • General care and health


Puppy class basics (9 to 16 weeks of age)

Basics that you and your puppy should experience and learn in a puppy class:


  • Follow and loose‐lead walking

  • Constructive socialization

  • Sit, down, stand, release and come when called

  • Stimulate and settle

  • Touch & hold desensitization

  • Containment and supervision

  • Positive crate training

  • Housetraining

  • Addressing chewing and mouthing behaviors

  • Constructive activity and toys


A puppy class is the best place to learn correct lure vs. reward methods where you will receive group and individual instruction, all the while your pup learns to politely work around other dogs and people.

Terroux Dog Training

bottom of page