Home » Clicker Training Community Blog » Training

What do you look for in a dog trainer?

Filed in - Training - Dogs - Business

Pet owners want to find a trainer that they can trust. But how do you know that a trainer is any good? How do you know they're offering a good value? What do you look for in a dog trainer?

Take the poll and tell us!

While one can not argue

While one can not argue against the importance of a current, science-based education I believe that the bond between trainer & client is just as important as the bond between musher and dogs. (I think the musher/dog relationship equates to the owner/dog relationship in most pet-dog training situations.)

I rely on a trainer / behaviorist who lives more about 3,000 miles from me because I know her educational background (it's quite remarkable), but more importantly because I have known her for over 20 years and have absolute faith and trust that anything she recommends is based on the best interest of the dog(s). Of course in order to make it work she had to train me to observe and report my observations very accurately, and sometimes the phone bills get a bit steep as we discuss day-to-day progress.

In addition to training my own team of sled dogs, I also do volunteer work training rescued sled dogs. My trainer has made it possible for us to develop surprisingly effective training and behavior modification plans for some severely disadvantaged dogs. The most dramatic of these are a pair of Alaskan huskies rescued as adult dogs that were never socialized at all as puppies. They were essentially feral dogs that had never before run on teams until they were accepted by the rescue organization. Both were so wild that they had to be live-trapped in order to remove them from their previous "homes" (hawk - spit)

With the long-distance guidance of our master trainer, we've been able to help them cope with their human-directed fear well enough to allow handling in order to run them with teams. One of them is currently running on a sprint racing team, can comfortably walk on a loose leash as well as run and pull in a team, and can tolerate veterinary and husbandry handling. The other was a bit slower to respond, but was able to accept the handling necessary to put her in a team, and was recently adopted by an experienced musher who admired the dog, studied our training logs, and decided she would like to continue the project herself.

Most professional dog trainers don't really train dogs. Instead, they educate and train owners or handlers so that they can train the dogs. I feel the relationship between owner and dog is crucial to a successful training program, and that the relationship between professional dog trainer and the dog's owner is equally important.

"You can't run with the big dogs if you pee like a puppy"

Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs, Two Rivers Alaska