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Looking for a Good Dog Trainer

Updated: Apr 27

I was going to finish up my CE requirements for my Fear Free renewal, but for some reason the sound does not play on my phone. So, I got to thinking about where I can find a Fear Free certified dog trainer near my clinic to refer to.

There are none within 50 miles of our location!

How am I supposed to find a good dog trainer?!

Which brought me to good ol’ Google.

The first line item when I searched ’dog trainer credentials’ is the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®).

You can start at the CCPDT website

This is good! But what does it mean when a dog trainer is certified by CCPDT? They will display their credentials on their websites and social media platforms CPDT-KA. But, what is the difference between a dog trainer that is certified by them and one that has a different certification?

The CCPDT is the leader in the development of rigorous exams to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices.

This means if you want to be a dog trainer, your goal is to be on that list — your name on the list with some of the world‘s best dog trainers!

Humane: this will mean non-aversive, no pain, fear, or anxiety is used to manipulate a dog’s behaviour to what us as human’s feel is right.

Science-based: just as we practice veterinary medicine, as evidence-based medicine, so should dog trainers. Reward-based training works! Fear-based training or aversive methods of ‘do this or else’ can create more fear and anxiety, and impairs the human-animal bond.

Ok, so the first page of their website has a button for Find a Trainer. That’s where you will want to go.

Dog trainers are encouraged to get certified

Well, there were three CPDT-KA dog trainers not too far from me. I’d say within an hour‘s drive.

But what if you can’t find a CPDT-KA trainer that is close to you, what should you do?

Check out this Best Of page on SprucePets

The top pick was the Karen Pryor Academy. Good choice! Veterinarian approved!

Karen Pryor is author of the book Don’t Shoot the Dog. Did I mention that this book is on the reading list for apprentice zookeepers in Alberta? Maybe not. Either way, she is a model trainer for clicker training, not just for dogs, but for all species. Dogs do not understand human language. But a simple click-reward they catch on to VERY quickly. I have watched dog trainers with 8-week-old puppies mat trained and relaxed on their mats using clicker training.

Read the book. It’s really short and easy to read. Learn how to use the clicker first so that you do not confuse your puppy.

Need more guidance? The Karen Pryor Academy has a list of qualified trainers.

Karen Pryor Academy is another recommendation

For the most part, these dog trainers are going to be excellent for obedience, getting a dog to sit, stay, relax, and be able to walk on a leash without pulling.

Now, on to a special group of dogs that I wrote briefly about: Dogs with Separation Anxiety.

How do you reward your dog for being quiet home alone and not destroying things or themselves?! This is the most frustrating part of training, training your dog to be ok with being alone.

If you have a dog with separation anxiety, get yourself to a veterinary behaviorist. Then find yourself a dog trainer using Julie Naismith’s search tool.

The beauty of separation anxiety training is that they do not need to be local. You can use a trainer from across the world!

Regardless of who you decide to hire, they should all be following the humane hierarchy.

Humane Hierarchy for dog training

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