Adopting a dog is one of the most exciting moments that a person or family can experience. It’s hard not to imagine all the countless warm snuggles, jaunty walks, laughter-filled games of fetch, and loyal companionship you’ll share together ...
But unfortunately, if it doesn’t work out, it can end in disaster.
Untrained dogs can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage from inappropriate chewing, urinating, and defecating. Behaviors like separation anxiety, aggression, and incessant barking can impact your everyday life, making leaving the house, having guests over, or even being at home a complete nightmare.
In worst-case scenarios, these behaviors can be dangerous to your dog and to others, and often, owners who can’t control their pet decide to re-home them or bring them to a shelter. This is incredibly traumatic for the animal, and can even make these behaviors worse.
But wait! There’s good news. Avoiding the damage and heartache is actually incredibly simple. If you choose to work with a qualified, professional dog trainer, it can change your relationship with your pup for the better -- and it can even change your life.
A professional trainer will help you remedy unwanted pet behaviors, or even better, these behaviors can be avoided, altogether. Yes it’s an investment, but it’s an investment in the health and wellbeing of you and your entire family. If you choose the right dog trainer, he or she may even guarantee to help you out free of charge if your pup slips up down the road. And by the way, think of all the money you’ll save on replacing chewed items or emergency trips to the vet!
For the record, dog training isn’t just for naughty dogs, either (and as we’ve said before, we believe there is no such thing as a “bad” dog!). Even calm canines will benefit from the skills, mental stimulation, and bonding time that training offers.
Working with a professional will help you understand your loyal companion like never before, and when you learn to pick up on his stress and fear cues, you can work through their triggers together. Needless to say, training helps ensure that your pooch lives the happiest, most fulfilling life possible.
So whether you’re adopting a soft, wiggly puppy or a loving older dog who needs a home, working with a trainer can make life infinitely better for the both of you.
How Dog Trainers Are Behaviorists, Animal Psychologists, & “Human Trainers,” Too
When it comes down to it, the title “dog trainer” doesn’t explain the full scope of what these experts actually do. Training is so much more than just teaching your canine pal how to sit, shake, and rollover.
Dog trainers are experts at canine communication and psychology. When it comes to unwanted behaviors, they first analyze the root cause to help you change the behavior for good.
They’re well-versed in dog body language so they can gather insight on your pal’s behaviors and feelings just by watching him. Canines are actually incredibly expressive and can be easy to read — that is, if you know what to look for.
And remember, dog training isn’t just about teaching your four-legged friend; “human training” is a huge part of it, too! When you learn how to communicate and work with your companion the right way, the desirable behaviors stick because you’ll have all the tools to keep practicing.
Most important of all, your bond with your pup will be lifelong and stronger than ever before.
Your Ultimate Dog Training Guide
Needless to say, there’s a lot to learn about dog training, from making the decision to hire a professional, to choosing the right trainer, to learning about dog behaviors, and more!
With the help of 169 dog training experts around the world, we created a comprehensive guide to get you started on you (and your pup’s) dog training journey.
More Expert Advice
Looking to do some more research? Or you want to follow the top experts in the domain? Our contributors shared the names of 119 industry experts who inspired them!
"She is a judge of conformation and obedience and my mentor with 50+ years experience. She also supports you by coming to watch you show your dogs and helps with words of encouragement." -- Kerry Southern from Southern Training
"She has inspired and influenced me." -- Katherine Breeden from Be Kind to Dogs
"She advocates for animals...not against them. Dogs do what works...and so humans have to teach them, not hurt them. Dogs are the intellectual equivalent to a 3-year-old human -- how do you want your child being taught?" -- Julie Westphal, CVT from Awesome Paws Academy
- Jacinthe Bouchard, trainer, specialist in animal behavior and founder of Formation Jacinthe Bouchard and Zoo Académie
"I admire [her] ." -- Gilmert from Gilmert Ethologie
" Great knowledge and technique." -- Lehni Lebert from Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter
"If people would like to learn more about the profession: Dr. Pam Reid." -- Paul Owens from Raise with Praise Dog Training
"B.F. Skinner and his operant conditioning theory. He uses positive reinforcement to shape the dog’s behavior." -- Kelly Morgan from Kelly’s K-Nines
"Cesar Milan is also a tremendous influence in that he believes the humans need to be trained and amend their actions/behaviors far more than the dogs." -- Nicole Rigger from Pet A Go Go
"He is effortless in his style and deals with the psychology of dogs and not just treat, treat, treat." -- Scott Gonzalez from Scott The Dog Guy
"For his simplicity, his efficiency, his speed, to solve canine ‘problems.’" -- Aline from ABC Dog City
”The APDT promotes kind, care and effective training. Ignore bad behaviour and reward good behaviour." -- Toni Lethbridge from K9 Training Center
"I have tremendous respect for Steven Applebaum for his commitment to bringing positive, reward- based training and education to the public." -- Alan Baldwin from Legacy Dog Training LLC
"Dr. Sophia Yin was a pioneer in applying the lessons from the study of dog behaviour to pet dog training." -- Natasja Lewis DipCABT from Nightsabre Dog Training
"She works on the dog as a whole rather than just a brain." -- Adam Daines from Avon Dog Services
"Denise Fenzi for her awesomeness and for showing me that dogs make choices. There are many great trainers, but for me she is a significant contributor to the field of dog training and my own personal growth as a trainer." -- Chet Wise from Wise Choice Dog Training
"Dr. Susan Friedman, who isn't exclusively a dog trainer, but an animal behaviorist. She has done so much to bring the Applied Behavior Analysis model into the field of dog training, which helps add a structured, systematic approach to training and behavior modification. She is also a huge advocate for including choice and control in an animal's life, and integrating it into behavior modification, which is essential for an animal's emotional welfare." -- Ursa Acree from Canis Major Dog Training
"Karen Pryor is my main role model and influence because she has been demonstrating for decades that rewards-based training is scientifically proven to be most effective and respectful for all learners." -- LaurieAnn Hull from Over the Moon Training Services, LLC
"He has remained at the forefront of education and training for 40 years. He has never just said ‘Oh, I know everything’ and stopped bettering himself or his methods. His commitment to improving the lives of animals and the knowledge of trainers and veterinarians is awe-inspiring. And he’s a genuine good and nice man." -- Sarah Anderson from Dogz
"He is a positive reinforcement trainer, he believes in making training fun for the dog, he doesn’t use adverse training methods that scare the dog, but he’s also realistic and knows when a dog may not be trainable or suited for that family." -- Tanya Evensen from Pawsitive Results
"Pat Miller has been a huge influence on my training methods. She is a trainer of other trainers due to her expertise in modern training and canine cognition." -- Tanzi Leary from Dog Crazy Lady
"I love giving the animal as much choice as possible, and love the idea of empowering the learner taught by Chirag Patel" -- Adam Daines from Avon Dog Services
"She advocates a real respect for the dog and does not promote conditioning. She allows the dog to learn to self-manage himself." -- Christiane Reniers from Canischola
"Ed Frawley and his Leerburg enterprises are my main influence. He trained and bred German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois for 30 years, which I find very impressive. I thought all hope was lost when I got my first German shepherd before I found his website. His training methods helped me develop as a trainer more than any others I've found." -- Bella from Mikotusar Kennels & Aviary
" His philosophy about training is very balanced and has proven to be effective. His ability to train dogs that have been turned away from other trainers is amazing. I have a lot of respect for what he does and I learn a lot from observing him."
- Kristin French from Peninsula K9 Training
"Emily Larlham for the unbelievable things she has taught her dogs and her willingness to share her wealth of knowledge." -- Roz from My Hero Dog Training
"Having myself been trained in tradition at the beginning, it was difficult for me to be convinced by the positive methods. I have done several seminars / internships but the one that really helped me was the one with Grisha Stewart which I found simple and brilliant." -- Edwige Audurier from ATAM
"He is just a premier working dog trainer and is a master at behavior shaping." -- Delinda VanneBrigthyn from Dogology, DV
"John Roberson was my first trainer and he made everything so clear and obvious that he changed the way I thought and made it easy for me to simply communicate dog behaviour concepts to clients." -- Miriam Finn from To Be Sure Pet Services
"She has pioneered the ‘bond-based’ approach I have integrated into my work. Jennifer uses Force-Free, Bond-Based, Choice-Based methods which allow dogs to flourish and thrive without the stress of any aversive methods." - Katherine Breeden from Be Kind to Dogs
"She is always looking for better ways to teach a new behavior. She continues to share her encyclopedic knowledge of dogs, learning, and behavior with trainers and owners and she has data to back it up." -- Diane McWhinnie from Scholars in Collars Dog Training Inc
- Victoria Stillwell, dog trainer, TV personality, author, public speaker and founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy
"She is the most influential dog trainer of today's professionals." -- Michele from Pet Portrait Fun
"She uses kind, reward-based methods and gets to the cause, not just correct the symptoms of behaviour." -- Jo Wood from Doggy Dilemmas Canine Behaviour & Training Solutions
"Susan Garrett has the most successful competitive dog training and sports run in the industry, consistently performing at the top of her field for decades. Susan shares her training techniques resulting in great success with those who follow her suggestions." -- Jennifer Pennington from Lead With Fun
"Suzanne Clothier advocates for relationship-based training with a strong influence in humane strategies. She is so brilliant and knowledgeable while offering training information that is doable for everyone." -- Judith Anderson-Wright from Great Dog
"Top behaviour guru in his own right and excellent presenter for his chosen materials." -- April Lott from Wigglebums Training
There are so many smart professionnals in the world of dog training. Check out dozens more experts who our contributors say are worth following :
A Special Thanks for Our Contributors
We want to say a special thanks to the incredible professionals who took the time to contribute to this guide. In our opinion, it shows how much they care about helping our furry friends and their families!
We also want to thank the 169 experts listed above for helping to shape dog training as we know it today: A process meant to help you understand your pet and guide them with loving, positive reinforcement.
Want to learn more about giving your pet the healthiest, most fulfilling life possible? See our Ultimate Pet Nutrition Guide, which covers all things food!
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