Dog training

Regulation and supervision in the dog training industry?


By Joan Hunter Mayer

Based on comments from previous articles, I’m glad the topic of dog education is being discussed – education and awareness is essential!

Did you know that dog training is an unregulated industry in many countries, including the United States? There are no official government agencies that oversee the practice of dog training. In addition, there are no official universal rules, policies, procedures or gold standards that trainers are required to know or adhere to. Essentially, this means that anyone can call themselves a coach and do whatever they want – when and how they see fit. Some dog trainers don’t even have a business license.

Therefore, it can be difficult to find reliable information on services related to pets. One person’s website offers an opinion, while another’s recommends something completely different. Friends and family offer their advice which only adds to the confusion. How do you filter out all the friendly tips, suggestions, and searches online? How do you know who to trust?

Finding a dog trainer is similar to finding other service companies – do your due diligence, be a critical thinker, read reviews, and learn about their approaches and methods before committing to any services.

Here are some guidelines:

· Check that the dog trainer / company demonstrates both transparency and integrity; the training approach must be simple, clear and human.

Trusted dog trainers will use transparent, clear, and consistent content on their websites and social media pages.

· If they claim that their techniques are “the best” and / or “the most humane” then they should have some evidence to back up those claims.

· Does this person or company describe training methods that improve the experience and relationship of the dog and the keeper?

· Does the training experience seem enjoyable to both the dog and its owner?

· Do you feel they really care about their clients’ best interests?

· Do they belong to groups or organizations that are respected throughout the industry?

· Ask specific questions about the training methods used by the future trainer and under what circumstances.

· Ask the trainer what to do when the dog is well trained. Also ask what happens when your puppy doesn’t do what you would like or does something you don’t want him to do?

· Remember that humans are animals too! If something is wrong, trust your instincts.

Red flags

• Techniques that could cause injury should set off an alarm signal.

• Does this person / business implement outdated techniques or tools, including those that may cause fear or discomfort to the dog?

• Beware of subjective jargon, which can be misleading and can confuse decision-making for pet sitters. A term like “balanced” may sound harmless, but is it?

• Dog trainers who express their use of treats, as well as “dominance” or “corrections”, portray their methodology obscure.

• Some coaches use both positive reinforcement (ie treats, hugs, praise) and “positive punishment” (ie collar fixes, alpha rollers, aversive training collars ). This is a contradiction in terms AND in approach, and also sure signs that your pet will at the very least receive conflicting messages, and possibly be subjected to inhumane treatment.

• Techniques based on fear are outdated. Trainers who use them may not have training in animal learning theory or scientific techniques, may not be aware of advancements within the industry, or may not understand the fallout from coercion and abuse. dislikes. (Fortunately, progress has been made over the years proving that while these training techniques can change behavior, they are not necessary for training dogs – or any animal – due to the potential for effects. damaging physical and emotional secondary.)

• Also, be aware of the eponymous “canine behaviorist”. (Much more on this in our next article. In short, however, “canine behaviorist” is not a recognized or accredited professional designation.)

• If someone says they received their own training exclusively from YouTube videos and TV, you should really think twice before hiring that person for professional services. Many professions may not require a college degree, but they still warrant professional, hands-on on-the-job training and mentoring.

A lot of people think that just because they’ve had dogs, grew up with dogs, love dogs, know dogs, and / or watch TV shows about dog education, they know all there is to it. to know about dog training.

It would be the same as me saying, “I love to cook and I love watching shows on Food Network. I once even won a blue ribbon in a baking contest. So, I am clearly a professional baker. While you can encourage me to donate treats to your bake sale, there is no way you will hire me to make your wedding cake!

In other words, when working in a specialized field, like dog training, to elevate your status from hobbyist to professional, formal training and education is essential.

“When you know better, you can do better”

For too long, strength-based techniques have been used because they are part of our culture. Now there is a pawsitive cultural gap. Those who use a non-forceful approach will talk about using whatever motivates the dog to want to participate in the training plan. They will focus on rewarding desired behaviors and teaching the dog the best behavior choice, without instilling fear.

With the right dog trainer, you’ll have a professional who will listen to your needs, come up with a plan that works for you and your dog, and provide the right education and support throughout the process.

In addition, trainers worthy of the name will admit if a specific case is beyond their scope of practice or if they are unfamiliar with the situation presented. For example, when clients ask me about issues that may have an underlying medical origin, I always refer them to their vets. I often get questions about what foods a particular dog should eat. Again, that’s a question for this animal’s vet.

A more pawsitive experience all around

The lack of regulation in the pet behavioral training and counseling industry is of concern. However, for pet sitters who go the extra mile and invest time, money, and effort in professional dog training, this lack of supervision doesn’t have to be a major obstacle. A look at the methods, continuing education and professional affiliations is a good place to start. Also keep in mind that while meeting the client’s overall goals, training should always be fun throughout the process – for everyone involved.

Whether you are a first-time puppy parent or a seasoned dog sitter, each new experience brings new needs and goals. For some, it can be helpful to start with a fresh look when it comes to finding a dog trainer, dog walker, groomer, pet sitter, dog day care or pet boarding. company. Time taken to conduct an interview and ask questions is time well spent. Use your research skills to examine their websites, online reviews, and even social media for a thorough review before you entrust them with your canine companion.

For you, a pet sitter, the lack of oversight and regulation in the dog training industry means that finding the best dog trainer for your dog may require a little more research. But that’s okay – it’s good to be curious, and our curious dogs are worth it!


The curious dog was founded by Joan Hunter Mayer, a Santa Barbara dog behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer. Joan and her team are dedicated to providing humane, pawsitive and practical solutions that address the challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Let’s go to bark with the dogs, cheer on the humans and have fun!


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