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Someone mentioned that many trainers aren't very good or qualified. I've found when I do research in advance, I have found the trainer I needed at the time I needed one, but I've had to go through a lot of training options that wouldn't work for us before finding that perfect trainer. I also found the best trainer for our last challenging dog wasn't the right one for my current dog.

1. What do you look for when searching for a trainer?

2. Do you hire a trainer who is good with all dogs or based on what your current dog in training needs at the time?

3. Do you prefer private training or a class setting? When would you use one over another?

4. Finally, if you are your own trainer, how did you get to the level you are at now where you didn't need another trainer? ie. where and how did you get your own training?
 

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What I look for when looking for a trainer, is someone who is not sold on any particular collar or training method. Someone who has had success with several dogs in some venue. Someone who has experience (preferably owns) a working or herding breed. Preferably, someone who's students have gotten out there with their dogs and have had success. I want to see that they are active in the sport of purebred dogs, whether showing, obedience/rally/agility, breeding -- breed club member, performance event club member -- someone who has some kind of presence with local current dog affairs, whether that is 4H for kids, or assessing dogs for local pounds, supporting rescue in some form, writing pet news in a local paper. I just want someone who is known in the local dog community, someone who is conscious of, and active in the problems with dog ownership in the local area.

I am not specifically looking for someone who can help with behavioral issues. I would ask my trainer to direct me to someone they feel is competent if there is any need for that.

I am looking specifically for someone to work with me and a puppy toward titles, and mostly it is just getting the puppy used to working around other dogs and people, I can train the exercises. But there are changes each year in the rules, and finding someone who is up on those helps.

I want a trainer who isn't going to go to the big guns right out of the box. Someone who has more than one suggestion for problems. If the trainer seems impatient or seems to not have time for lower life-forms, then I'm gone. Training for me is spending my yippee yahoo money (which I have very little of), and I want it to be both productive and fun. It is not up to the trainer to make it fun. But if a trainer makes the experience painful, then I won't pay for another set of classes with him/her. Been There. Done That. Got the T-shirt.
 

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If I were to search out the "perfect trainer" I would want someone who was skilled at reading the body language of both dogs and their owners.Someone experienced with our breed but not necessarily that worked exclusively with Gsds.
Class settings are great for more than training your own dog.You can watch other people and dogs working together both successfully and unsuccessfully and learn an incredible amount.
If there was an issue that I really needed one on one help with I would hire this "perfect trainer" for private lessons.
I do the majority of training alone and read and watch videos on many methods and philosophies and pick out what makes sense to me to try and add to the tool box.I will never have my dogs trained to their full potential.I spend too much time watching them interact with each other and just goofing around with them.What I 've really been focusing on lately are my communication skills.My dogs can read me like a book and I want to be able to read them as effectively.
 

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Someone mentioned that many trainers aren't very good or qualified. I've found when I do research in advance, I have found the trainer I needed at the time I needed one, but I've had to go through a lot of training options that wouldn't work for us before finding that perfect trainer. I also found the best trainer for our last challenging dog wasn't the right one for my current dog.

1. What do you look for when searching for a trainer?

2. Do you hire a trainer who is good with all dogs or based on what your current dog in training needs at the time?

3. Do you prefer private training or a class setting? When would you use one over another?

4. Finally, if you are your own trainer, how did you get to the level you are at now where you didn't need another trainer? ie. where and how did you get your own training?
1. I look for someone that has shown success in what I want to accomplish. If I am working a new SAR dog, I would work with people that train SAR.

2. I work with people that get me where I need. That said, I like to work with people that have a large depth of knowledge. Not someone that has a super narrow focus. This is if I have a specific issue. I am a person that likes to discuss and bounce ideas, so I like someone that has seen a lot.

3. I prefer private. But some things, like agility and stuff are generally done in a group. So that's fine. If I am working on a specific behavior or issue, I prefer to be one on one.

4. For most things I am my own trainer. But I am not dumb, so if I am seeing an issue, even if I think I know how to handle it, I often ask a fellow trainer or a professional to give me an unbiased look. It helps me not get stuck in rut. And often I get great ideas. I like working with other dog people, so I rely on them a lot.

How did I get here? Lots of work with numerous dogs. Working with mentors in my field(SAR) and then working with newbies to the field. I have rehabbed lots of tough rescues, worked with lots of volunteers, and been a Vet Tech for a good part of my life. So I pretty much live and breathe dogs.

10 years ago I thought I knew a whole bunch. Today, I know I have a lot to learn. You get humble as you get older. You have success and failures and you learn from them. I am learning everyday.
 

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If someone is looking for a trainer, they may need specific training....behavioral is different than pet obedience, and not many trainers are versed in actual behavior modification.
Yet, most dogs with behavioral issues are in need of actual obedience type training to help their mind stabilize. I agree with gsdsar's #1, what has the trainer accomplished?

I wanted help with ecollar training, so I went to a field retriever handler that competes in that...she also did competitive obedience.
I learned much as an IPO handler teaching my dog go outs, target, place, etc...If someone is successful in a sport or two, they are generally a good trainer and that carries over to other sport. The trainer learned from me and my sport and we meshed our knowledge to tweak what my individual dog needed.
Open mind is what I would want. I don't personally want to train with someone that says my way or the highway. Each dog is individual, and everyone has goals that may or may not be what the trainer or handler are on the same page with.
 

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I've worked with several trainers, some I liked some I didn't. These were my personal observations

A good trainer - admits when they're wrong, is always learning and improving themselves, can convey their thoughts in a constructive mannerism towards their clients, can work with a multitude of dogs and adapt based on the dog's or owner's need.

A bad trainer - doesn't listen to the client, is firmly a one trick pony and even when their method is proven not effective for a dog continues to be adamant it must be the dog's problem not their method and demeans either the trainer or dog, and can't convey their thoughts in a constructive mannerism to allow the dog or owner to succeed

In the end, you need to find someone that you can work with and that you can trust. I'm working with a behaviourist and she's taught me a ton about not only my dogs but dogs in general. She also doesn't judge so if I fail I'm honest about it and she doesn't belittle but either encourages or gives me a modification to try so we are constantly improving. She's expensive but well worth the money

Obedience trainers have their place absolutely, I love a good group class where you're all working together towards a common goal with the trainer helping each of you. Behaviourist have their place as well, it all depends on what you're looking for or need at the time

I'm waiting for the next beginner nose work class to begin so I can enroll Delgado. I waited for the right trainer with the right credentials and attitude and now I'm excited to work together with her. You should always feel good walking both in and out of class, if you're feeling bad either time you know you're not doing it right.
 

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For me it was...

1. What breeds do they own and what do they do with their own dogs? The first 2 trainers I had owned goldens and labs and were not helpful to me. The third trainer was too reliant on the ecollar with all her dogs... it is all she did. I started trying to find a trainer that knew mals and dutchies... or at least a GSD. Found one whose personal dogs are mals and GSD and watched him work his dogs in obedience exercises, bite pillow, and protection. I asked if I could just meet him and watch him work and he was more than welcoming.

2. Watch what your dog does when the trainer takes the leash. My dutchie was a bit crazy when I found this trainer. He took the leash and my dog was a different dog. My jaw dropped as I realized in an instant I was the weak link in the dog/human relationship.

3. Find a trainer that trains the human and is good at it. As much as I wanted to hand my dog over to my trainer and say "fix him" realize that you/human are the problem. The human needs the training more than the dog.

4. I like a trainer that teaches how to read the dog. My first lesson with my last trainer was a 4 hour class on reading dogs.

5. Find a trainer that does one-on-one lessons. Groups are okay but you really learn when it is one on one.
 

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Remember that trainers can be awesome to some people and others not so good.

An excellent trainer can work with lots of different personality types (humans) and lots of different temperament types (dogs). It is not necessary for a trainer to be able to work with every kind of person or dog, but you do need one that can work with you and your dog. Since most of us do not generally see ourselves as at least half of the equation, and will often assess ourselves in the best light, finding a trainer who is multi-talented when it comes with working with people is probably our best bet. The dog part, that's easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
For me it was...

1. What breeds do they own and what do they do with their own dogs? The first 2 trainers I had owned goldens and labs and were not helpful to me. The third trainer was too reliant on the ecollar with all her dogs... it is all she did. I started trying to find a trainer that knew mals and dutchies... or at least a GSD. Found one whose personal dogs are mals and GSD and watched him work his dogs in obedience exercises, bite pillow, and protection. I asked if I could just meet him and watch him work and he was more than welcoming.

2. Watch what your dog does when the trainer takes the leash. My dutchie was a bit crazy when I found this trainer. He took the leash and my dog was a different dog. My jaw dropped as I realized in an instant I was the weak link in the dog/human relationship.

3. Find a trainer that trains the human and is good at it. As much as I wanted to hand my dog over to my trainer and say "fix him" realize that you/human are the problem. The human needs the training more than the dog.

4. I like a trainer that teaches how to read the dog. My first lesson with my last trainer was a 4 hour class on reading dogs.

5. Find a trainer that does one-on-one lessons. Groups are okay but you really learn when it is one on one.
I recently began working with a trainer like you describe, who has extensive experience with working line dogs, both GSDs and Mals. I've burned through half a dozen trainers already with my male dog. Classes were useless for training. I needed someone who understands dog behavior and is willing to work with me where I am now with what I need for my current dog. I thought I understood dog behavior but my WL puppy has challenged me on everything. Our last trainer who I thought was the best ever, has the philosophy that a dog is a dog, and trains them all the same way. I wanted someone who loves working dogs. I found that person and it's been great. This new trainer will use the tools we prefer, whether it's treats, a flat collar, a pinch or an e collar or some combination, but said we will have better results with some tools over others. That has been proven to be true. I'm seeing my puppy do things I didn't think possible at his age. He is calmer and focused, and he just turned 9 months.

The new trainer said my technique with my puppy is excellent, but I'm not getting the results I want because I'm allowing him to fail. If he gets it, great. If he doesn't, I have been letting him wear me down and being inconsistent. I didn't think I was, because my puppy is not supposed to be on the high end of drive. Well, his drive kicked in, and he is. I now understand what is meant by high drive and I'm using that to get results instead of fighting it.
 

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Glad you found a capable trainer LuvShep. Once you do they become like gold and bring out the anxious relationship style in all of us... "NOOOOOoooo you can never leave me! NEVER!" It is funny, I love my trainer (he knows this too) and I find part of me wants to fake a problem so I can go work with him again. Isn't that like an adolescent relationship? hahaha I have to be satisfied with a beer every so often rather than weekly training sessions.

I do think that there is another side to this. Given the trainers I have been to over the years... the ones that are pretty hardcore, in your face, no nonsense, nothing sweet coated work best for me. Now they have to have some tact (and of course be very good at what they do), but there is a part where the handler had better be able to check ego at the door and get to work. That is hard for some and they drop out. Seen it with the current trainer. Guy has a young cattle dog that is biting people and he can't handle the assertiveness of the trainer that I like so much. Drops out. Continues with the woman here in my home town that says tugging creates aggression. Ugh.

You got to be ready to drop your ego. I thought I was a good dog handler until I got a Dutch. It was hard to drop that thought and self concept and start from the bottom up again. But it is exactly what had to happen.

Do your research, find the best, and drop the ego. You can adjust the training as you go but be open to what that person has if they have proved to you they have it.
 

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Glad you found a capable trainer LuvShep. Once you do they become like gold and bring out the anxious relationship style in all of us... "NOOOOOoooo you can never leave me! NEVER!" It is funny, I love my trainer (he knows this too) and I find part of me wants to fake a problem so I can go work with him again. Isn't that like an adolescent relationship? hahaha I have to be satisfied with a beer every so often rather than weekly training sessions.

I do think that there is another side to this. Given the trainers I have been to over the years... the ones that are pretty hardcore, in your face, no nonsense, nothing sweet coated work best for me. Now they have to have some tact (and of course be very good at what they do), but there is a part where the handler had better be able to check ego at the door and get to work. That is hard for some and they drop out. Seen it with the current trainer. Guy has a young cattle dog that is biting people and he can't handle the assertiveness of the trainer that I like so much. Drops out. Continues with the woman here in my home town that says tugging creates aggression. Ugh.

You got to be ready to drop your ego. I thought I was a good dog handler until I got a Dutch. It was hard to drop that thought and self concept and start from the bottom up again. But it is exactly what had to happen.

Do your research, find the best, and drop the ego. You can adjust the training as you go but be open to what that person has if they have proved to you they have it.
That's all true and it's my experience, too. By the time we found this trainer, my ego was shot, so that wasn't a problem. Most of what I learned from previous dogs wasn't working well with my teen puppy. I did everything "right" and he was getting more and more difficult. I found from the new trainer that I wasn't doing everything right, but my previous dogs with less drive or a different type of drive were more forgiving and it didn't matter. This dog reads every movement and is very tuned in to me, so I might say and expect one thing but signal something else. He was getting agitated and acting up because he didn't know what I wanted. Once we began the new method, he calmed down. I see the change in all our interactions.

The trainer worked with me on subtle changes, how I hold the leash, how to use slight pressure to "speak" to the dog, using a different and consistent tone of voice. Also switching up how I use an exercise to chain behaviors. So we might be working on Sit but are actually teaching several different things (come, sit, release, watch me).

I didn't start this thread to talk about my current or past trainers, but for a reference for new people who ask about trainers. It's interesting that no one who has posted here recommends places like a pet store PO trainer, yet new GSD owners often use that as their first training experience with their dogs. I don't have a problem with classes if they are used for the right purposes, to socialize, to teach a dog to work in a group, and for the owner to learn basic obedience commands and leashwork. They are useless for solving escalating behavior problems or stubborn situations.

What finally convinced me to leave the trainer we had been using before was finding someone new with extensive working line experience. The new trainer loves these dogs and doesn't consider them to be problems or difficult to train. Our last trainer said he loves GSDs but I watched him handling my puppy and saw he didn't respect the dog. The new one's face lights up when he greets my dog.
 
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