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Ten Questions To Ask Your Dog Training Professional
  • AntoinetteAntoinette
    Posts: 887

    Ten Questions to Ask Your Dog Training Professional -
    Before You Hire Them!
    The Pet Professional Guild has given permission for active Guild Members to use this educational piece in their
    businesses © 2014 Developed & Designed by The Pet Professional Guild Steering Commitee.
    1. What dog training equipment do you use when
    training a dog or do you recommend I use?

    A force-free professional trainer will recommend using
    equipment that has been designed with a dog's safety in mind.
    While collars are great for holding ID tags, they can do damage
    to a dog's neck and throat if the dog is walking with pressure
    on the leash (i.e. pulling). We recommend using a properly
    fitted front- or back-clipping harness to lessen the chances of
    damage to the dog's neck and to keep him comfortable as he
    learns to walk on a leash nicely without pulling. We also
    suggest a 6'-8' flat leash rather than a retractable leash. These
    give the handler much more control and help avoid injury. If a
    dog is prone to slipping out of a harness then we suggest
    double-clipping the leash to a martingale collar as well as to the
    harness. This is an additional security measure.

    A force-free training professional will never recommend the use of
    equipment that is designed to cause pain or discomfort or restrict a
    dog’s breathing. This includes pinch/prong collars, choke/check
    chains, spray collars and electric/shock collars. These collars are
    unsafe for the dog wearing them. Both the collars and the pain they
    elicit may become associated with people and places in the dogs
    environment, a pairing that can cause a potentially dangerous

    2. What happens in your training program when the
    dog responds in the way you want him to?

    Fabulous things happen to the dog when he gets it right. Fun,
    toys, food… Whatever the dog wants suddenly appears. A
    force-free trainer will say the dog gets “positively reinforced”
    when he does the right thing. This means the dog “gets paid”
    and receives something he deems of high value. Positive
    reinforcement should be delivered by and paired with a happy,
    stress-free trainer or pet owner.

    3. What happens in your training program when the
    dog responds in the way you do not want him to?

    We believe that "bad" behavior should be ignored or
    redirected. If we teach our dog alternative behaviors then we
    can ask him to perform one of those instead of what we
    perceive to be inappropriate behavior. This helps the dog learn
    what to do and makes us feel better about our dogs. For
    example, when our dog jumps up on us we can either get
    angry with him or we can ask him to sit (which we will have
    previously taught him) and then reward him with our attention
    or a treat. It will not take long for the dog to realize that it is
    better to sit than to jump. This puts the onus back on us to
    teach our dogs the things we DO want them to do so that we
    can feel good about the dog and his behavior, rather than just
    get angry because he is not doing the right thing.
    4. How will you punish the dog or advise me to
    punish the dog if he gets something wrong or
    exhibits a behavior I do not like

    Very simply, we ensure we are teaching the dog ageappropriate
    skills and always make sure we are not expecting
    too much too soon. We constantly ensure we are motivating
    the dog correctly. If the dog has been trained and the skill is
    appropriate for his age but he still gets it wrong, we very
    briefly remove something he wants – such as treats, toys or
    attention - and then try again.

    5. How do you ensure that my dog is not
    inadvertently being punished?

    In a force-free training environment it would be reflected in
    the dog’s demeanor and performance if he were being
    inadvertently punished. A professional force-free trainer is
    well-versed in canine communication and will immediately be
    aware of any signs that a dog is uncomfortable. A professional
    trainer will regroup and reassess what they are doing to create
    the most empowering learning environment.

    6. How do you know that the type of reinforcement
    you have selected to train my dog is appropriate?

    A force-free professional trainer will help you determine what
    is the most suitable reinforcement for your dog based on
    what he likes, what best motivates him and how the
    reinforcement can best be delivered within a training
    Your professional force-free trainer will educate you on the
    different types of reinforcement and when to use them.

    7. How will you know or how will I know if my dog is
    stressed during the training?

    A professional force-free dog trainer will do everything he/she
    can to ensure your dog is not stressed during training
    sessions. Professional trainers are educated and experienced
    in interpreting canine communication. Dogs who are whining,
    growling, snarling or snapping are obviously stressed but
    there are also more subtle signs of stress that we also need to
    be on the lookout for. To do this, we watch for signs via the
    dog’s body language.

    Some of these signs of stress may be:

    1. Whale eye – the whites of the eyes look like crescent
    2. Eyes – wide open and round rather than soft and almond
    shaped. Pupils may be dilated.
    3. Furrowed brow.
    4. Mouth is closed and the corners of the mouth
    (commissures) are either pulled forward into an offensive
    pucker or pulled back and down.
    5. Panting when the temperature does not warrant it.
    Additionally, sweaty paw prints may be seen.
    6. Ears set flat back against the head or very far forward.
    7. Legs are stiff, possibly rolling forward up on toes.
    8. Tail may be held high or low (possibly tucked). The wag is
    short and stiff and does not involve the entire rear end.
    9. Neck may be extended to raise the head up high (ostrich
    10. Head turns away from trainer or training object.
    11. Body shaking.
    12. Paw lifts.
    13. Lip licking or tongue flicks.
    14. Sniffing the ground randomly (not on a scent trail).
    15. Running away and refusing to come when called.

    8. Which professional dog training associations are you
    a member of?

    Your professional force-free dog trainer should maintain
    memberships only with select organizations that advocate
    humane, ethical training methods that are minimally aversive
    to animals. They should not or will not participate in any
    organization that promotes or endorses methods or training
    styles that use punishment, force, fear or intimidation.

    9. Will you guarantee your training results?

    A professional force-free dog trainer will not guarantee their
    training results. There are too many variables involved and a
    professional dog trainer cannot control these. Instead, your
    professional dog trainer will work in tandem with you to
    effect the most appropriate behavior change in line with your
    goals. The results will be dependent on many things, including
    your level of commitment and compliance to the
    recommended program.

    10. How do you think a dog’s behavior should be
    addressed if the dog is growling or snapping at
    people or other dogs?

    An experienced force-free dog trainer will assess whether
    your dog is just overly aroused or has a genuine fear or
    aggression issue as the two can look similar. If your dog is
    anxious or fearful, exhibiting avoidance or acting out in an
    aggressive manner, then a program of desensitization and
    counter-conditioning (respondent learning) can be used. This
    type of program aims to change the dog’s emotional response
    to stimuli that previously upset him, thus reducing the
    probability of him feeling the need to resort to those
    behaviors in the future.

  • AntoinetteAntoinette
    Posts: 887
    I want to say that the questions above are information that DCSIR were graciously to send me. I wanted to explain that in my post but putting in that information would have made the post too long to post.