Quote:....that I am just not confident enough in the protection aspect to really know what is truly the best for my dog vs. what could be damaging and that's why I feel "safe" with the one or two helpers I trust who have always worked the dog......
In my opinion, your dog should be at a certain place in training before you work on another helper. Unless of course, that helper has some special ability that may actually help your dog and you know and TRUST him. I cannot emphasize that last sentence enough. You, ( first), and your helper, know your dog better than anyone.
Mostly, when I work a dog the first time, I am just trying to get a feel for the dog, so, unless someone tells me he will do this or that, I won't know until I work him. I, personally, always sit and talk to the handler before I work a dog the first time. Even the people who don't know much about helper work will reveal things about their dog. I ask about what they are doing in training and any problems the dog is having so I know not to step into a big problem. I always ask them other questions that help me understand what motivates their dog. I can usually adjust if the dog has some issue but some helpers cannot, seem to get embarrassed or they panic because they don't know what to do, and then you have a BIG mess on your hands.
When I go other places to train, I always try to have a plan and I spell out exactly what I want the helper to do with my dog. There are no helpers in this area that have the skill to do anything special with my dog, so, mostly, I try to come up with ways for my dog to have a very positive experience on a new helper.
Since you trust your helper, I would ask him to tell you what to do with a new one, (when you do get around to going to a new place), or ask him to go with you and talk to the helper, ( with you there as well), before you work your dog. Just make it really clear what you are working on and "usually" that works out. Again, I would go watch the helper first and listen to your little voice if you get a bad feeling.