Reward-based trainers help owners communicate more effectively with their dogs. They do this by rewarding desirable behaviors and teaching alternatives to undesirable behaviors. By learning that good things happen when they make a choice that we would like, the dog is more likely to repeat that behavior again!
What to Look For:
- Trainers that use non-aversive tools like flat or martingale collars, harnesses, and head halters, along with positive reinforcement training.
- Trainers should never make guarantees or promises about a dog’s behavior or how long it will take to achieve results.
- Positive language such as “cues”, “manners”, and wants to encourage relationship building and communicating with your dog.
- Uses rewards instead of punishment.
- Trainers that will allow you to observe a class before bringing your pet.
Red Flags and Things to Avoid:
- Any trainer that makes guarantees or promises about their services. While a great trainer can help with many behavior issues, dogs are individuals and unfortunately, there are always going to be some cases where training may not work.
- Trainers that use language like “dominant”, “alpha”, “submission”, “compulsion” or any other intimidating phrases. These are often based on outdated terminology that is no longer scientifically accurate.
- Any trainer that uses aversive tools or techniques like shock collars, choke chains, prong collars, leash jerks, ‘corrections”, or forces dogs into positions by pushing them or pulling on their leashes.
- “Board and train” services, which is when the dog is sent to a training facility for a period of time to receive training on-site without the owner. While some board and train facilities use positive reinforcement, many do not. Be cautious and ask specifically what type of training they do and what tools they use. Any reputable trainer will be happy to share their techniques, show you the training facility, and demonstrate how they work with the dogs.
- Any trainer that refers to themselves as a “balanced” trainer, which refers to a mix of training techniques that include aversive methods.
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