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It is advised that dog owners call, interview, and ideally observe a trainer prior to hiring them. Do not consider using a trainer or training company if you see or hear any of the following methods or training philosophies:
- The equipment recommended for basic obedience includes or is focused on choke collars, prong collars, or shock collars.
- Trainers who ban head collars of any kind may rely unduly on force.
- The trainer instructs you to manage your dog’s behaviors by pinching toes, kneeing the dog in the chest or abdomen, hitting the dog, forcibly holding the dog down against their will, constantly yelling at the dog, frequently yanking the collar constantly, or using prong, choke, pinch or shock collars or electronic stimulation.
- The trainer believes most or all training is about encouraging the person to be “alpha” and teaching the dog to “submit”.
- The trainer explains that most dog behavior, for example, jumping on people, occurs because the dog is trying to be “dominant”.
- A trainer recommends “alpha rolls”, “scruffing”, “helicoptering”, “choking” or any other painful or physical methods as a means of “training” or modifying behavior.
To maximize the chances of recommending or using a qualified trainer, the dog owner will need to ask the trainer some basic information, and see for themselves how the trainer treats the dogs in the classes/consultations. Having professional letters/initials after one’s name is no guarantee that a trainer does not use these practices—you must ask about or observe their methods specifically.
Should your dog ever start to show signs of aggression, fear, anxiety, distress, or any other condition that you find worrisome during training let your veterinarian know. If you ever feel uncomfortable with something the trainer asks you to do to your dog, stop working with that trainer and alert your veterinarian so they can give you guidance.