Local and national news tells us that the dog education industry is currently experiencing unprecedented growth due to the many dogs and puppies adopted during the last two years of the pandemic. What the news doesn’t mention is that since dog education is an unregulated industry, it’s like the Wild West out there as new business models take hold in territory that traditional trainers do. once held firmly.
As a potential customer for dog training services, as a consumer (whether for group lessons, private consultations, or board-and-train), you need to sort through the many possibilities in your research the services that will work best for you and your dog. Online and print ads are where most consumers start.
I asked canine professionals for their suggestions for red flags in advertising for dog training services. What should you, as a potential customer, be aware of? Here are some of their responses.
Mandy collins (UK) Words of warning for me:
▪ The respect
Dale neighborhood (North Carolina) Also “secret”, “off leash”, “guaranteed”. . .
Kasey Nash (California) Photos or videos with clearly stressed or arrested dogs.
Steven cogswell (Colorado) Any negative labeling of dogs; using words like stubborn, refuse to listen, ignore. Also the word “bribe” when talking about food / treats.
And, from the trainer who cracked my dog in class, who still has the money for the rest of my prepaid lessons because I found the R + training and never looked back:, boring behaviors , destructive or aggressive.
Sodonnia Wolfrom (Arkansas)
▪ Lack of continuing education
▪ “Ordering” rather than “cue” usually makes me jump.
▪ Refuse to use treats (this means they won’t change reinforcement depending on the dog, or use it at all)
▪ Guaranteed results
▪ Any anthropomorphization of dogs – stubborn dog, “better knowing” dog, etc.
Dawn Elberson Goehring (Hawaii) The red flags for me are:
▪ No treats or clickers needed
▪ Anything with “alpha”
▪ Guaranteed results; without guaranteed leash
▪ “Fix” your dog
▪ “Our own methods”
▪ “Channel” or “rehabilitate”
▪ “Our patented collar”
▪ Stim collar or “like a TENS unit”
▪ Pack leader
Of course, the pictures will also tell a story. They are not always reliable because it is only a snapshot in time. But if there is a pin, a shock or a choke [collars], it’s a red flag for sure.
Teresa tuttle (Texas) “Discipline” and “command”. Also, this quote: “** NOTE: The Remote Collar Training Tool is not a shock collar. We never shock or hurt your dog during training. The low levels of stimulation generated by the collar are a clear and easy way to communicate with your dog when he is off the leash.
Maria burton (Washington) “Alpha” = Flee!
Linda lukens (New York)
▪ Bad behavior “corrected”
▪ Balanced training
▪ “Send your dog to our dog training camp. “
Claudia Black-Kalinsky (Georgia) Hocus-pocus undefinable terms:
▪ Pack leader
Telani Lasoleille (Tennessee) “Results Guaranteed!” “
Sarah richardson (California) I will add:
▪ Cleaning break
▪ Obedience, obey
Colette Kasé (Mexico) “E touch” is one of my most hated terms. E touch is a somewhat apt term designed to mislead potential customers. All that means is that they’ll give your puppy or dog electric shocks instead of science-based human training.
Photo by Steven Cogswell
It is important that you feel comfortable and confident with your classroom instructor or home trainer. It’s a must that you trust anyone who will take care of your dog without you.
How do you know who to trust? First, eliminate the clearly untrustworthy elements. Do they tell you the truth, the whole truth? Do they present themselves as educated and experienced? Confirm their claims.
Do they refer to themselves as “certified” but do not specify by which certification body, in which category? Do they list initials after their names, like professional diplomas? Do they clearly indicate what these initials represent? If you can’t “follow the initials” in a simple online search for a source that can confirm that particular “certification”, you have received the wrong information.
Ask yourself why. Why would they do not clearly list the source of any “certification”, education or experience they have had?
Do you know the term “stolen bravery”, referring to claiming military service that one has not done? Why would people do this? Your guess is as good as mine. People brag for many reasons, but when business people choose not to provide any proof of their expert claims, why would you trust them to tell you the truth? Don’t be scammed by bad words!
Trish ryan (South Carolina) Customers should know how a trainer will work with their dog and the equipment / tools used. Why would customers subject their dog to aversive methods?
▪ Trainers offering “guarantees”
▪ ““Balanced” methods
▪ Always check the website photos for the types of equipment used.
▪ Embark and train? Know the methods they use
▪ What are their references / affiliations?
Melissa McCue-McGrath (Massachusetts) Red Flag: Use words like “behaviorist”, “trainer” or “behavior specialist” without listing certifications. Also, “behaviorist” is a political science term, not an animal behavior term, so if someone says they are a behaviorist they might be smart, but they are probably not qualified to help. a great dane with a sofa. food habit.
Flacortia Rosiea (Alberta) Red Flag: Use of the word non-behaviorist. I can’t believe people are still saying this.
On the website of a nationally franchised dog training company, I saw that 24 people among their large local staff are listed as “Professional Canine Behaviors.” I was stopped dead when I got to the four staff members listed as “former behaviorists”. How it works? Are they making a joke?
Amy Sugars (Ohio) “Your dog will be able to walk off leash anytime / anywhere after just one week in our training camp.”
Dale neighborhood (North Carolina) The only guarantee in dog training is that you cannot guarantee results. One more: “refund”. I know a lot of people who got ripped off, who paid for a package, who only saw the “trainer” once or twice, then couldn’t reach them, but I don’t know anybody who collected the money. Talk about false advertising! They also forgot the part where they don’t return calls, emails or texts. Oh, and they say it must be the owner’s fault that “it didn’t work” because the owners didn’t have to follow the instructions properly.
Tiffany Copley (Ohio) Guarantees, claims to be able to solve any problem, touting they are better than others (this is not the same as listing the reasons they are good; I’m talking about bold assertions that they are better than others).
Anna abney (South Carolina) Anyone who claims to guarantee results is banned. Dogs and humans are living things with the agency. There is no way to guarantee results when it comes to behavior. Hiring a trainer / behaviorist to solve behavior problems is like hiring a coach or therapist. We cannot create talent, we cannot guarantee that you train enough to develop your skills, and we certainly cannot do it for you. All we can do is facilitate the best possible chance of a good relationship between you and your dog.
Mandy collins (UK) Words of warning for me:
▪ The respect
These are red flags because they suggest that dogs can be tricked into behaving without using positive feedback to let them know when they are right. Respecting yourself as a pack leader will solve all problems. Being dominant will negate the need to train and communicate with your dog.
He puts the responsibility on the owner and not on the trainer. If the behavior doesn’t change, it’s because the owner didn’t show the right energy, not because the trainer lacked knowledge.
“Balanced ”allows for the use of punishment, which would be unnecessary if the trainer truly understood how to prepare the dog for success, and really aimed at making the owner the safe and predictable partner the dog needs.
There is also the risk that the dog will die out – appearing obedient, but being too worried to exhibit any behavior.
And this is not a way to live a life.