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Finding a Top-Notch Dog Trainer

Your big boxer Zeus is ripe for some obedience training. While Zeus is a good-natured guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s completely out of control. Taking Zeus for a walk is like getting a resistance workout in your gym’s weight room. You’ve told your Temecula veterinarian about Zeus’ antics, and the vet has recommended a basic obedience class for your rambunctious pooch. You’ve found a dog trainer candidate, and you’ve arranged to observe a class before you sign Zeus up for training. When you arrive, you’re encouraged to see a sign requiring proof of canine students’ vaccinations before they can enter the class. Read more about other criteria for choosing a good dog trainer.

Secure, Well-Maintained Facility

Let’s face it: dogs (including Zeus) are accomplished escape artists, often looking for any opportunity to hightail it away from a situation they’d rather avoid. Make sure the training room’s doors are well secured against the dogs’ almost-certain jailbreak attempts.

When you walk in, the floor should be clean and you shouldn’t see piles of “stuff’ randomly stacked around the room. The trainer should have paper towels and disinfectant for students’ potential accidents. Even more importantly, the bathroom should be squeaky clean and well stocked with supplies for pet parents’ use.

Humans Are Welcome, Too

Since Zeus can’t train himself, the trainer should invite you (or another family member) to become Zeus’ regular training partner. If Zeus repeatedly receives commands from the same person, the training will have more lasting impact on your teachable pooch. Finally, if the trainer has six or fewer students, she can better provide each dog with personalized attention.

Training Aids With a Positive Focus

Expect to see training aids such as flat collars, head halters, and harnesses. The trainer should also break out rewards such as treats and doggie toys on occasion. A reputable dog trainer doesn’t need negative training aids such as choke collars, prong collars, or electronic collars.

Punishment Is a No-No

A skilled, confident dog trainer has mastered human/canine communication, and she can teach her canine students in a normal tone of voice. She has no reason to yell at the dogs or jerk a student’s leash to get them to listen. If you see the trainer hit, kick, or otherwise abuse a dog, get up and leave.

After class, ask the trainer if she belongs to one or more dog training associations. These professional groups encourage, and might require, members to meet specific continuing education standards. This also means the trainer stays current on training techniques. After all, you want Zeus to receive the best obedience training available so he can begin greeting his Temecula vet like a dignified, well-behaved canine patient.

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