Canine Draft Blog
Working Dog Handout - drafting and weight pull
Crash Course Weight Pull
OFA vs. PennHip
Supplements and Medications at Home
How to Treat Hot Spots
How to Make a Wicket
How to Make a Bloat Kit
Insights from Christine Zink, PhD, DVM
How much should
Greater Swiss Health
P2Y12: What it doesn't mean
Insights from Christine Zink, Phd, DVM
How to Research Dog Show
Danger of Fake Service Dogs
How to Transport a Puppy
Greater Swiss Facebook
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Raw Diet and Other Recipes
How Restaurants can Impress Patrons with Service Dogs
Things you didn't know about being a
Therapy Dog Handler.
many Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are in the US?
How many Lowchens
are in the US?
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America
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members of GSMDCA,
Southbound, Gulf Coast GSMDC,
CGC Evaluator #27966.
been asked many times to recommend a trainer. While I have opinions about
training methods, I feel that it is best for people to find a trainer that suits
them best. With that in mind, here’s a list of guidelines and criteria I use
when looking for a trainer. I also use the word handler and trainer
interchangeably. Almost all trainers handle their own dogs in dog sports
(except in conformation). The person handling the dog is usually the one that
also trains their dog. More often than not, those handlers also have trainers.
At a dog sports trial, I look for handlers and dogs that consistently
perform well. I ask them where they train, and more often than not, those
great handlers have the same trainer.
I hang out at training facilities and watch how the trainers interact with
their students (both dogs and humans) . If a trainer yells or looses
his/her temper with students, I avoid. The first rule of dog training is
that if you are angry or upset, stop training and cool off first. Dogs and
people will pick up that you are upset. That’s going to send mixed signals
to the dogs and confuse them.
I also look at the trainer’s personality and interaction with the dogs. Is
the trainer a leader (all mental, not physical)? Physical force is not
needed to be a leader. Confidence is needed. Do the dogs find the trainer
fun and interesting without the use of food? Does the trainer motivate
the dog and the owners? I watch the trainer’s body
language. You’ll notice that successful trainers walk confidently with their
heads up high and their dogs following their lead. Unsuccessful trainers
seem slumped, draggy, and seem to be pleading with the dogs to pay
Most if not all training methods are available online or in books. Finding
the knowledge is easy. Many programs certify trainers as having said
knowledge. Finding someone with the personality, temperament, and
experience to be a good trainer is an entirely different story.
I talk at length with trainers about their methods and their experience. If
a trainer cannot fully understand the different concepts of training
methods, I avoid. If a trainer doesn’t understand the difference between
classical conditioning and operant conditioning, I avoid. Classical
conditioning and operant conditioning are the basis of dog training. Both
concepts are taught in Introductory Psychology classes.
I avoid trainers that only have “one” method. These trainers tend to not be
as successful as trainers who have more than one skill in their tool box.
These trainers often get stuck in a rut when the only method they advocate
does not work with all dogs. Having been trained in research, I’m well
aware that there is no such thing as one method or theory that will solve
all dog training problems. Sorry, just isn’t true. Different dogs need
I watch trainers and their own dogs in public. If their own dogs are
well-behaved in public, that’s a good sign. If their own dogs are NOT
well-behaved in public, avoid. Being in public is key. Having a dog that
is trained at a facility, but not in other locations shows me that the
trainer does not know how to proof their dogs. If I ever hear the words,
“But Fido is soooo good at home,” I run away fast.
I ask the trainer about the function of each step in training. Each step
has a function. Each word, each treat, each command, and every single praise
has a function. If a trainer replies with, “That’s just the way I do it,“ I
avoid. The trainer might know what to do, but if he/she cannot understand
why, he or she cannot understand or offer advice on complicated issues.
These types of trainers might be able to offer a quick fix for small
problems, but not create a strong foundation for training.
I avoid facilities that offer training without the owner. Most dog training
is training the owner. Sometimes that is the more difficult part. Most of
the time, behavioral problems are owner problems, not dog problems. In my
opinion, there is no point in training a dog when the people having to live
with the dog cannot implement the training.
I look for trainers that are interested in developing a relationship with my
dogs and myself. Dog training is a lifetime commitment, not an 8 week
commitment. I want a trainer who understands and cares about the well-being
of my dogs and doesn’t just treat me like a customer. A good trainer should
want to make you a better dog owner for the lifetime of your dog, not just
for the duration of the class or consultation.
I also look for trainers that keep improving and keep learning. I avoid
trainers with that know-it-all attitude. Every dog is different, and new
training methods are being developed every day. A good trainer should be
open to new ideas and trying new methods if an old method doesn’t work. You
wouldn’t buy a cell phone that is 10 years old because there are probably
better ones on the market. You wouldn’t only train with methods that were
developed in the 1940’s now would you? I may use old methods in my training,
but I also use new ones when appropriate.
When I train, I look for trainers who also show in canine sports including
obedience, rally, agility, or etc…While many people say that they just want
their pets to have manners, good manners are built on a strong foundation
and a strong relationship between dog and owner. Trainers that
show are constantly being tested as they must show off their training
skills. They must not only have a dog that behaves in at home, but
also in public and with many distractions. The dogs must truly understand the concept of
particular commands, and they are also proofed so that they can perform
regardless of their environment. They must also perform many of the
exercises off –leash on a single command. That type of performance can only
be achieved if there is a strong handler/dog bond. Many trainers can teach
a dog to sit and down on command in a controlled environment, but not many
can train and handle a dog in a canine sport. However, not all trainers
need to show in canine sports to necessarily be a good trainer. Not all
trainers that show in canine sports are good trainers.
Regardless of what you are looking to accomplish with your dog, I urge you to
look for someone that has the knowledge, experience, skills, and personality
that fits what you and your dog. Happy Training!