Choosing the right trainer for your pet -

Choosing the right trainer for your pet

Dogs may be "man's best friend," but that doesn't mean they don't do things that are downright annoying. All dogs need to be trained and sometimes it's better to get a professional involved. Our pet pro, Luciano Aguilar, has four important questions to ask before you hire a dog trainer.

"They say the only thing two dog trainers will agree on is that the third dog trainer is doing it wrong," Luciano explains. "Well, there's some truth to it. With all the different canine training methods and philosophies out there, it's important to do your homework before hiring someone to train your dog."

The first question to ask: How long have you been training dogs? For straight obedience training, you want to find someone who has at least one year of experience. For behavioral problems, the trainer should have at least two years' experience working with dogs that have your dog's particular issues. But no matter how long they've been training, you should definitely ask for a list of references and give them a call.

You also want to ask: Where did you learn to train dogs?  Now, people come to dog training in all sorts of ways.  For instance, Luciano started in the military. Where a trainer first learned to train dogs is important, but it's more important to find out if they've continued their education. A good dog trainer also participates in dog events outside of the classes they teach. You want the trainer who's plugged into the dog world.

Another big question: What training methods do you practice? Approaches and techniques vary, but you want a trainer who doesn't break your dog's spirit. Ask the trainer to demonstrate how they would work with your dog. Observe their demeanor. If they're aggressive and come on real strong, keep looking.

You want to ask: How long will it take to see results?  There's no right answer to the question. But there's definitely a wrong one. All dogs have different temperaments and learning curves. Results also depend on how much effort the dog owner puts into the training after each session. If a trainer who has never worked with your dog before guarantees results in a given period of time, pass.

"Good training is one of the best gifts you can give your dog," says Luciano. "So whether you do it yourself or hire a professional trainer, be sure to take the time to teach your dog to be the best dog he can be."

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