June 2, 2022

Finding Help for Your Best Friend

I’ve written before about the myth of thousands of dogs surrendered to shelters because so many people acquired dogs during the pandemic. While that’s largely false, there are genuine issues with so many recently acquired pets: the dubious source of the dogs, a lack of available veterinarians, and dogs left unsocialized are primary concerns. Another issue is access to good trainers and perhaps new dog owners not knowing how to select the best trainer for their dog. Here are a couple of things you should know.

Know what you are looking for.

Do you want your dog trained, or are you looking for someone to help solve a difficult behaviour? Dog trainers have the skills and knowledge to help dogs learn manners, tricks and curb behaviours like unwanted digging, excessive jumping, and more. Behaviour consultants will have more expertise in helping dogs with such things as fear, anxiety or aggression.

Always select a trainer who uses positive reinforcement.

Research shows that reward-based training is a highly effective way to train dogs. Reward-based training also leads to a stronger, healthier bond with owners than techniques that use pain, force or intimidation which compromise the dog’s well-being and can even make some behaviours worse.

Look for a trainer that is certified.

Owners can look for certification by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers or by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Both organizations certify dog trainers and behaviour consultants. In order to become certified with either of these organizations, trainers or consultants have to demonstrate a rigorous understanding of canine learning theory and evidence-based training techniques. Both organizations require certified trainers and consultants to agree to a code of ethics covering things like confidentiality, professionalism and the use of humane methods.

Don’t put you and your new best friend in the hands of someone who is unqualified and uses techniques that can actually harm your dog.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO