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I am researching trainers and I'm really starting to doubt the credibility of trainers, alot of them seem they took a 2 month course (I'VE SEEN TONS ADVERTISED, EVEN IN MY AREA). It's really alarming as they're starting to seem like doctors (my son had a knee tear and had it misdiagnosed for a year and he kept requesting an mri and said it was a meniscus tear and doctors kept telling him it was a syndrome they used as a catchall diagnosis to not have to do anything further).

What is the credibility of trainers? The only people I'd trust training a GSD I own would be actual Farmers who own GSDs, military recruits who work with GSDs/Malinois, Schutzhund associated people, or a well trained GSD who was used in retraining dogs.

Are petsmart trainers any good? What about trainers who advertise they work with all breeds?

If you were in a situation with a problematic dog, would you go to a trainer or someone who has grown up with the breed for decades/years?
 

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I would only go with a trainer that has a good reputation and one that knows the breed. If I had a problem dog, then a qualified behaviorist would be who I would search out.
Like you posted anyone can call themself a trainer. There was a recent thread on certifications and one poster called it a joke to be certified. It is sad that some decent reputable trainers who put many hours into training become certified and then get grouped in with the "jokes"

When people find out what I do for fun they say "oh, you are a dog trainer?" I reply that I train my own dogs with a qualified helper/trainer-I am just a handler!
 

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I agree with Jane above, and would like to add, when searching for a trainer it pays to go observe their classes,,beginners and advanced, ask the clients how they like the trainer/methods of training.

When I go for obedience training, I look for a trainer who has titled and trialed in obedience, observe their classes, and decide for myself if that's the route I"m going to take with the dog...If your goal is to do schutzhund, seek out a schutzhund club, if your goal is agility, find someone who has trialed and done well in agility.

Petsmart? Petco? I would not waste my money on their training classes.
 

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PetSmart and Petco classes are as good or as bad as the trainer teaching the class. Even a box store like this is going to hit the jackpot once in a while and stumble on someone who has a real talent for working with dogs. And as deficient as you may think their classes are...it's probably more training than most dogs received.
 

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One puts a shingle on their door and an ad in the paper.
 

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You really need to visit the class and get some references, interview them, see what types of dogs they have owned/are familiar with, and ask good questions about what you will cover in the class, and what classes they offer, how involved they are in canine sports and events.

If you shop around, you can find trainers who are obedience judges and have decades of experiences that charge less then PetsMart who may have a good trainer in one class and a total newbie in the next.
 

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About 3-4 years ago we had a guy join our Schutzhund club with a GSD mix. His first dog ever, (as an adult, he was about 19 or 20). He immediately decided he'd found his calling and went off to PetSmart and applied for a job as a trainer. About 4 weeks later he was teaching the classes as a "Master Trainer"! Luckily he knew his limitations and would refer all the "behavior" issues to us, which was probably about 75% of his classes. We ran into him recently and he is now in the insurance biz.
Sad to say there are no regulations when it comes to qualifying or becoming licensed as a dog trainer. We tell people who are trainer shopping that as far as we can tell, the only test is a title, be it agility, herding, schutzhund or whatever. Find someone who has achieved at least that in whatever discipline you are interested in, also ask for referrals. There are a number of general testing affiliations out there and some are trying hard to have a meaningful certification, and some are just about getting the fee in exchange for the paper. If a trainer you are interested in has any of these independent certifications, spend a few minutes researching what really goes into it. Don't just read the PR propaganda from the website, research it as though you were a trainer looking to get certified and see if you actually have to submit qualifications and take some sort of exam (some even require submitting tapes of you training specific things) or whether you just need to fill out a form and write a check.
 

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One of the places I train is a dog club that offers classes. The trainers there have to title a dog in the activity that they are teaching in order to qualify. I don't have an issue with this because I know what I am getting and my purpose in training there is more for the distractions and to have fun. I learn the majority of handling from my SchH Club members and research.

I do have issues with people who claim to be experts and know crap. We had a guy do a consult with Moose regarding his fear aggression. He gave us zero help, but still charged us the $100 + consult fee.
 

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I also joined an AKC affiliated obedience training club- lots of trainers that are titled, certified and experienced with their own dogs and volunteer their time. There is one that has been through the APDT training program that I know of. The trainer I had with Stosh for basic obedience trains therapy dog for Paws for Patriots who gives dog to veterans free of charge. Most have titled in obedience, rally or agility and many have therapy dogs. Since it's non-profit and all volunteer trainers it's a wide variety of experience and interests and offers many levels and types of training. My pups accomplished STAR Puppy and CGC certificates through this club. I have to say that no one claims to be anything other than an interested experienced trainer and more than willing to help- for nothing!
 

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As mentioned above, it really boils down to the handler doing his/her research. Word of mouth is beneficial but you need to observe and question on your own. Also, paid trainers are out there to make money, therefore, the quality of training suffers in some instances. Homework comes first when choosing any type of trainer. Some of the best sessions I've had were with a retired police K9 officer who simply held a group gathering of sorts with neighbors and friends. IMO...Money tends to dilute most aspects of any service.
 

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Ditto to all of the above, and adding:

Most "certifications" I wouldn't give you a plug nickel for. However, there are some great trainers that have certification with the CCPDT.

Personally, my favorite trainers are those who have students that title their dogs in the venue I am interested in (and I am interested in a lot! lol).


My ideal trainer would have:
  1. their CPDT (test put out by CCPDT and associated with the APDT) to show they have the book learning.
  2. Member of NADOI (National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors) to show they have a clue about training people and their dogs
  3. Titles in the area/venue of training I am going to them for
  4. Students with titles in the area/venue of training I am going to them for
  5. Have GSDs
  6. Have trained/titled at least one "difficult" breed
  7. Be fun and relaxed with me and my dogs :)
It's a tall order lol But in the end, I really do like some sort of "Proof in the Pudding" type of thing (CPDT, NADOI, Titles) and wouldn't put much stock in the "master trainer" certificates.

JMHO :D
 

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Don't may much attention to these "I took an 8 week course I'm a dog trainer people". It's exactly that and most of them know very little. The first class I took my GSD to they said to smack her on the nose when she didn't listen.....I left and got a refund,lol

Find a well recommended trainer and learn from the for sure:)
 

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PetSmart and Petco classes are as good or as bad as the trainer teaching the class. Even a box store like this is going to hit the jackpot once in a while and stumble on someone who has a real talent for working with dogs. And as deficient as you may think their classes are...it's probably more training than most dogs received.
I agree, Lola gets training at petsmart. I feel that we lucked out with our trainer though...she loves my dog, and Lola likes her too. She has corrected people that popped their dogs in class (with a small lecture about how you shouldn't do that). She let us switch classes (puppy to basic) for no charge because Lola had that PDA surgery, and only went to a couple puppy classes. But the most important thing, she works with us and Lola really well.
 

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I used to be a professional dog trainer. I grew up with GSD's and was responsible for much of the training at home. When I got married and moved to St. Louis, I trained a dog with the GSDC of St. Louis. Upon titling him (CD), I was invited to become an assistant trainer with the club. A few years later I was offered a position at a local boarding kennel as a trainer. While there I put 4 CD's, 3 CDX's, a UD, and several Rally titles on my dogs as well as several of my students gaining titles. I worked there until they turned the training building into more boarding space.
 

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The only people I'd trust training a GSD I own would be actual Farmers who own GSDs, military recruits who work with GSDs/Malinois, Schutzhund associated people, or a well trained GSD who was used in retraining dogs.
For what it is worth, I know many military working dog handlers, and I would not hire most of them to be trainers because that is not what they are. They are handlers who have learned, through the class they took, to work with their dog, and they are usually supervised in their training by a kennel master who can help them address certain issues and behaviors, but they are not trainers.

There's a big difference between being trained to handle a dog and being able to actually train a dog who has had no previous training - or even addressing training kinks and issues in a dog with training. Handler and trainer are two different things.

Just a thought.

As far as how people become trainers, that really varies. There is no certification required in the United States, so anyone could call themselves a trainer and offer classes - and in many places, people do just that.

Certifications are difficult to classify in the US. PetCo and Petsmart "certify" their trainers through a course they take - but their program is limited and very much a "one size fits all" approach to training. Some of their trainers have NO further knowledge or background with training, and some of their trainers have A LOT of additional experience training, but the certification is the same for all. So some of them are the 17 year old store employee with just the PetCo class under her belt, and some of them are the 30 year old obedience competitor who has a bunch of dogs titled to CDX at home.

A lot of people who train - for example, the people I've trained with in herding - do not have any trainer certifications at all - but have a whole bunch of dogs titled in their chosen sport and are highly recommended by other people who have trained with them. (And they, themselves, usually train with someone more experienced than them, too.)

IMHO the best way of finding a good trainer is to keep an open mind, ask to observe a class, go to watch the class, and ask plenty of questions.

If I were looking for a trainer, I would look to train with someone who has titled and been active in the venues I want to pursue. If I were to want to train toward Schutzhund titles, I would look for a Schutzhund club. If I wanted to train toward AKC obedience titles, I'd want to work with someone who has competed and titled in AKC obedience. If I wanted to train toward Therapy Dog certification, I'd want to train with someone whose dogs are Therapy Dogs.
 
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