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When looking for a dog behaviourist or dog trainer we usually turn to the internet. After all, it’s generally our first port of call when we need information on anything from local services to medical conditions for example. The problem however is there is almost too much information and most of it conflicting. The Dog Industry is no exception to this rule. Look up dog behaviourist or dog trainer for example and just like any other subject, you will be faced with countless pages of people plying their trade to the trusting public or information about how you should treat your canine friend. So where do you begin, who do you choose because the choice available is mind boggling.
Well, the first thing to remember is that the Dog Industry is not regulated in any way. This means that anyone can call themselves a Dog Trainer or Dog Behaviourist, set up a website and start taking money for their services. The fact that they may have just read a book, seen a TV show, completed a short online course or had dogs all their life and so think they know how to ‘train’ someone’s dog when 9.9 times out of ten they often create more problems is of no consequence to them. Your money however is. How often do we see outlandish claims such as “The UK’s leading Behaviourist” or “we cure ALL behavioural issue’s” etc and so, drawn in by the ‘hype’, place our trust and money in them only to be bitterly disappointed.
Then there are those with endless letters after their name which really looks quite impressive and so they must know what they are doing, right? Unfortunately this is not often the case. Because of the lack of regulation, anyone can make up letters and place them after their name. A lot of these supposed qualifications if you were to Google them, simply don’t exist. If you type in the qualification and all you get is the name of the behaviourist or dog trainer then you can be sure it is a false qualification. Similarly, it is the same with people who set up their own association to further promote themselves as the ‘be all and end all’ of the canine world.
So who do you trust your dog’s mental wellbeing and your hard earned cash too? Firstly, read their website carefully. Does it strike a chord with you and how you would expect your dog to be treated? If the content is empathetic and science based then it’s a good start. If it is full of ‘dominance theory and how to be ‘the pack leader’ then run for the hills.
But more importantly, look at what qualifications people hold. Are they recognisable such as those from a state educational program such as ONC,HND,Degree etc. If so then at least you can be assured that the level of training they have received is of an acceptable level. After all, if people have invested their own time and money to go down this particular educational route then at least you know they are serious enough about your dog’s wellbeing.
Are they a member of a professional body that promotes force free training such as the PPG, APDT, APBC etc. These associations for example have been in existence for a very long time, are recognisable within the dog industry and where membership is a serious matter. It also gives you the client an avenue to complain as well as giving you an assurance that the person you are about to employ adheres to a strict code of practise. Stay away from any association that has been set up by someone who has just done so for what ever reason such as refused membership of other associations, in it for the money etc. There are a number like this.
Read their testimonials and don’t be afraid to ask if they can put you in touch with the people who wrote them for a reference. At least then you are assured that these testimonials are actually genuine.
And finally, speak with the person and see if you get on. You aren’t going to learn anything if you can’t communicate with the person who is there to not only educate your dog but you also.