The Importance of Choosing A Qualified and Certified Trainer

clicker-trainer-in-charleston

You might have envisioned a life with a well-mannered dog, who listens to you, comes when you call, walks calmly on leash…. a joy to live with. This perfect picture is often crushed when your dog starts to develop destructive or undesirable behaviors. You may have tried to train your pup yourself, but either don’t have the time or patience it requires, and therefore behaviors have turned into problems.

Whatever your reasons are for contacting a Professional, when the time comes to choosing a trainer for your dog, would you rather choose one who motivates, rewards, and builds confidence in your dog? Or would you choose a trainer who tells you that only a choke chain on your dog’s neck will get him to walk nicely on a leash, knowing that the only reason your dog may well be walking nicely thereafter is to avoid the pain of the collar?  The choice is yours, of course. The consequences for your dog, however, can be devastating. Apart from your dog possibly developing stress symptoms, he may also become reactive or aggressive towards other dogs or people. If he sees another dog in the moment the pain is inflicted on his neck, he will learn to associate the pain with seeing other dogs. That then will present you with other problems. Stress and fear are not conducive to learning. If you want your child to grow up confident and happy, would you not want the same for your four-legged family member? Wouldn’t you rather have a well-behaved dog offering behaviors because he wants to, rather than to avoid excruciating pain? The choice seems easy….

Choosing a trainer who is qualified and certified, and who uses only positive scientifically proven methods and techniques is the best you can do for your dog. It ensures the trainer has been knowledge assessed and has the right skillset for training dogs. When researching for a Professional Trainer make sure their website displays respected credentials in terms of educational background and certifications, as well as membership of Professional Organizations, who hold the trainer accountable for their methods. Sadly, here in the US, as well as many other countries, the Dog Training Profession is not regulated, which means that anyone can say they are a Dog Trainer. Going to the wrong one can unfortunately sometimes have severe, or even fatal, consequences for your dog. So do your research. If a trainer claims to be an expert on dog aggression or separation anxiety, for instance, make sure they have credentials to back this up. They may sound convincing in their statements, or on the phone, claiming to have years of experience. This does not mean they are qualified to train your dog. If their website does not have any badges to prove their educational  background, you may need to reconsider hiring such an individual. Too many trainers here in the South, unfortunately, still subscribe to outdated (and not supported by scientific studies) punitive methods of training domestic dogs. Be aware and use your common sense. If a trainer tries to convince you that inflicting any kind of pain on your dog is ok, alarm bells ought to ring in your head.

In Reward-based methods, and Clicker Training in particular, dogs learn that their behaviors only have pleasant consequences. The learning environment is safe, fun, and contagious. Your dog learns by association that since her behaviors only has positive consequences, and doing the wrong thing has no consequence, other than being ignored, it is safe and fun to try something else.  The clicker, a small mechanical device, makes a distinct, consistent sound which is unlike anything else your dog hears in her environment, and pinpoints the exact moment she offers the correct behavior. When the clicker has been paired (by association) with a reward (reinforcement), your dog quickly learns that the click predicts a reward. She will begin to love this game, trying to figure out what will make the ‘click go off’, because she knows the paycheck is coming right up. This makes clicker training the most effective, fun, and encouraging way of communicating with your dog in a language she understands. Clicker training is by far the most resultant method when teaching your dog new behaviors. Once the behaviors are learned and fluent, you can put the clicker away, and use praise (but don’t put the treats far away!) instead.

Clicker trained animals want to offer behavior because they have been paid a bonus every time.

Living with a well-behaved dog is a joy. That is a fact. All dogs, no matter the age, can be trained. Choose wisely, choose with your gut and your heart, do your research, and make sure your choice of trainer corresponds with your beliefs.

In choosing VivaPaws, your choice is positive training methods and clicker training, wanting the best for your dog, as you would for your best friend. Because you love your dog that much, you both deserve the best! Click it!


1. Hillsborough County Truth In Training Ordinance Was Consumer-Driven and Dog Trainers Should Support It by Angelica Steinker. Article in APDT Chronicle of The Dog, Summer 2018
2. Read more about Clicker Training and its founder, Karen Pryor on www.clickertraining.com and www.karenpryoracademy.com Here is also information on what choosing a KPA Certified Training Partner means for you and your dog.