How to recognize a good trainer - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-12-2015, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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How to recognize a good trainer

I think we need a thread to help people who want to train their pups or adults, who have behavior problems or have goals they want for their dogs to find a good trainer.

I can think of a few traits, but I hope other will share what they look for in a trainer.

Since, I do show in obedience and rally, I want a trainer with some success and ties in that area. But there are much more important things that suggest a good trainer:

1. Someone who has control over the class, and limits the class size.

2. Someone who has experience with a number of different types of dogs.

3. Someone who is not afraid of dogs.

4. Someone who can communicate effectively.

5. Someone with more patience than Job.

6. Someone who is not too busy to answer questions.

7. Someone who might suggest a different trainer or behaviorist on occasion.

8. Someone who isn't going to freak out if your dog is sporting a training collar, management collar, or an ordinary flat collar.

9. Someone who is going to listen to you before telling you what you came for and what is wrong with your dog.

10. Someone who can solve problems in multiple ways, who can try something different if the first thing isn't doing the trick.

11. Someone who is up to date with other trainers and training organizations, who has somewhere for information and is always learning and trying new things.

If I was looking for a trainer for aggression issues, I would want that person to be experienced with the breed or similar breeds. More than experience, I would want for them to have owned the breed or similar breed, and have had success with people who have problems with them.

Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 12:56 AM
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That's a nice comprehensive list! Would you mind if I printed this off? I would love to be able to pass it out at work. Even if customers decide not to use me as a trainer, I'd love to give them a solid list of things to think about when looking for another trainer.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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No, I don't mind.

Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 12:32 PM
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When I look for a trainer, I look for someone accomplished in that area and also have taught accomplished students. For example my agility instructor has titled several dogs to a high level and competed at a national, and has also been the instructor for many others that have titled their dogs. The most help I've gotten in Schutzhund was from a club that has produced many titled dogs and a breeder that has an established line of titled and now BHOT dogs. For puppy class or pet/manners stuff, I use a trainer that reads up on all the big names in training and behavior, attends seminars, etc. and keeps updating her knowledge and toolbox.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 01:27 PM
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I have a longer list for myself but here is how I condense it.

1. Someone who can clearly explain and apply effectively all quadrants of operant conditioning.
2. Someone who focuses on building a relationship of mutual trust with a clear, consistent and fair leadership.

Karin
Dutch Shepherd - Ptygo (Tee-Go) de las Flores
Rescue GSD - Freyja (Husband's Dog)
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 01:42 PM
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I think what you look for may depend very much on why you train. People who compete are looking for something very different than newbie owners (e.g. owners who just acquired their first dog, or first working breed dog).

From a rescue perspective, when we're sending new adopters to any trainer's class, I want them to go to a class that is all about the bond and building a rock-solid foundation of trust and fairness. When trainers make the bond between the dog and the owner the central focus, I have a lot of confidence the new adopter will be able to work through transitional issues and end up with a great dog. For those trainers, OB skills are an expression of that bond, but not the end in themselves.

I also strongly prefer trainers who appreciate that training methods have to be adjusted for the dog and whatever it's been through. They understand that cookie-cutter methods aren't appropriate, and sometimes their "usual" method has to be tossed aside for the benefit of a particular dog's unique needs. For example, I love when a trainer takes the time to learn at the outset who the shy, scared, or very soft dogs are and tells their owners that parts of the class will be adjusted for their dogs, so that all the dogs enjoy the experience.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 03:22 PM
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These are all excellent suggestions. I do not have nearly as much experience in this area as most of you have, but I have taken Newlie to two trainers. The first one did not communicate very well and seemed to be very critical of anything I did. (He actually brought me to tears several times.) He was also contradictory, for example, criticizing me for using a treat to teach Newlie something, but then later used a treat, himself, to teach Newlie something! But more than anything, I think he actually wanted Newlie for himself. He had just lost his GSD and kept telling me what a "hard" German Shepherd Newlie was. "Look at those hard eyes" he would say. Ridiculous! Newlie is actually a mama's boy.
Newlie's current trainer is a very no-nonsense, down to earth guy. He can be firm when need be but you always are aware of how much he cares for dogs. He will tell you that badly behaved dogs end up in shelters and it is a mission with him to keep every dog out of a shelter if he can. If you are doing something that he thinks is incorrect or should be handled a different way, he doesn't mince words, but he doesn't make you feel like an idiot and is quick to praise you as well. He has been a trainer for a while and no longer need to advertise, all his clients come by word of mouth. Other trainers here in town refer their more difficult dogs (read biters) to him. He has several dogs of his own and is involved with the Great Dane rescue league.

I have already made arrangements with him that he will take Newlie as his own if something were to ever happen to me.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by newlie View Post
These are all excellent suggestions. I do not have nearly as much experience in this area as most of you have, but I have taken Newlie to two trainers. The first one did not communicate very well and seemed to be very critical of anything I did. (He actually brought me to tears several times.) He was also contradictory, for example, criticizing me for using a treat to teach Newlie something, but then later used a treat, himself, to teach Newlie something! But more than anything, I think he actually wanted Newlie for himself. He had just lost his GSD and kept telling me what a "hard" German Shepherd Newlie was. "Look at those hard eyes" he would say. Ridiculous! Newlie is actually a mama's boy.
Newlie's current trainer is a very no-nonsense, down to earth guy. He can be firm when need be but you always are aware of how much he cares for dogs. He will tell you that badly behaved dogs end up in shelters and it is a mission with him to keep every dog out of a shelter if he can. If you are doing something that he thinks is incorrect or should be handled a different way, he doesn't mince words, but he doesn't make you feel like an idiot and is quick to praise you as well. He has been a trainer for a while and no longer need to advertise, all his clients come by word of mouth. Other trainers here in town refer their more difficult dogs (read biters) to him. He has several dogs of his own and is involved with the Great Dane rescue league.

I have already made arrangements with him that he will take Newlie as his own if something were to ever happen to me.
That was such a great read on newlie. I can't believe a trainer brought you to tears omg! I'm glad you found a good one now. His mission is actually what interested me in training dogs as well. I felt so helpless when I noticed the problem of innocent dogs being euthanized in shelters, left behind, dumped in the streets. Signing petitions and protesting only does so much. I felt I had to do something about it. Thought that if I could train dogs (aka train humans) then more people would keep their dogs, and maybe I could help prevent the unnecessary deaths of some pups. :-/ I think it is important before working with any trainer to know what their reason is for wanting to train, and it's great your trainer let you know what his mission was.

To answer the post:

On the most basic level, I personally don't want a trainer that meets my dog for the first time and runs up to him, scratches his head, rough houses, pats, and rubs, and just goes nuts for my dog like they KNOW each other. You don't KNOW him like that. Please respectfully greet my dog by keeping your hands to yourself and maybe seeing if he comes to you. You don't know what my dog is capable of. Maybe if he is interested in you, you can give a gentle rub UNDER the chin. Don't just come clobber my dog with head pats and stuff. You need to get to know him first. These kinds of trainers are clearly not aware of why SOME dog attacks happen.

Also, any trainer that doesn't know my dog and wants to "roll" him or use some harsh punishment like yanking his collar, slapping an e collar, or using physical touch when you don't even know if my dog needs that yet. You just met... Get to know him first, again.

Those are my two cents.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2015, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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Lots of good thoughts.

I think that we have to mesh with the training method that we use on our dogs, in order for it to be effective. I want a trainer who can watch what I cannot see in how I am acting and how my dog is reacting to it. I think the trainer and handler has to mesh to a certain degree as well.

We are our dog's advocates. We are the ones that know them best. We are the ones that are responsible for their behavior. And we are the ones that will have to deal with whatever they become. So, it really doesn't matter if a trainer has trained thousands of dogs, if we are uncomfortable with them, we need to pull ourselves and our dogs away. If we don't like what they are telling us to do, or what they are doing with our dogs, we have to put aside our shy, introverted self and say, "No, we aren't doing that." Sometimes we need to stop working with someone. And it is hard if we don't have the experience, to know if we are giving them a fair chance, if we just don't understand, whatever. This is why we have to really educate ourselves as much as possible, so we can be our dog's advocate. So we know what to expect when we bring a puppy home from a breeder, so we know what doesn't sound right/needs a second opinion at the vet, so we know when a trainer is doing something that is controversial at best.

Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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