Choosing a dog trainer

From the Blog

Choosing a dog trainer

Did you know that dog training is an unregulated industry?

Anyone can claim to be a dog trainer or behaviourist. They do not have to have experience or qualifications. This means that the dog trainer that you pick could be anyone. Google dog trainer, there are thousands and thousands of people claiming to be the person that you need.

So how do you pick a good dog trainer or behaviourist? How do you find one that does have experience, knowledge and ideally qualifications? How do you find one who will use the right methods and not use methods that are cruel, or dangerous?

Fear not- we will help. If you have adopted from us then give us a shout and we will point you in the direction of a good trainer in your area. If not, please follow the information below and if all else fails shout for help. We will help where we can.

Finding a good trainer or behaviourist

1) Find an trainer registered with an organisation like the IMDT ( or the APDT ( Both of these organisations provide training for prospective dog trainers, and dog trainers/behaviourists have to pass an assessment process to become members of the organisation.  At Hounds First we recommend the IMDT.

2) Visit dog training classes without your dog at first to get a feel for the classes.

  • Classes should be small- ideally a maximum of 8 working at a time. Bigger classes should have more instructors.
  • Dogs and people should look relaxed and happy
  • The dog trainers should be approachable and happy to answer any questions that you have. They should explain the reasons why they do things they way they do, if asked.
  • You shouldn’t see choke/check chains, prong collars or electric collars.
  • They should not be using water sprays
  • Training should be positive. Lots of treats, toys and praise.
  • Dogs shouldn’t be shut in another rooms on their own for barking. They should not be told off for anything.

3) If you are getting a behaviourist in to help you and your dog then you often cannot see them working before hand.

  • Take a good look at their website. Do they mention being pack leader, dominance, calm assertive energy, touch correction? If so, avoid.
  • Talk to them. Ask them about their methods. Do they talk about having to walk through doors first? Eating before your dog eats? If so, avoid.
  • As them what equipment they use. If they mention treats, clicker and a harness then great! If they mention choke chains, water, rattle bottles, buzz collars, spray collars avoid!
  • Do they promise that they fix your dog in a certain time? There are no guarantees in dog training and these promises are false promises.
  • Has the trainer/behaviourist asked about the dogs history? This is essential!
  • Make sure they use positive, reward based training methods.

When the dog trainer or behaviourist starts working with your dog watch carefully. They should explain everything to you as they go. If they start ‘touching’ your dog to correct behaviour, prodding them anywhere, touching the dog with their foot, or using sounds like ‘tsk’ then show them the door.

If they tell you that your dog is very dominant and needs to find its place- then again, show the trainer the door.

A good dog trainer will not use aversive methods and will work with you and your dog- you need to learn too! 

There are some organisations out there who will charge you a LOT of money up front- be very very careful before you part with your money. Most good organisations will not expect you to empty your bank account before they meet your dog.


If you need any further information then please get in touch, or contact one of the organisations listed above.

‘Every pet needs a human who can lead. Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance’  Dr Sophia Yin