Dog Owner Support
Our ‘Find a Trainer’ link is a great place to start your search (if the screen looks a bit funny and doesn’t have a search bar , you may need to hit reload once). The CAPDT member-trainers on this list have all committed to abide by our comprehensive Code of Ethics and Bylaws – a Code that includes a commitment to humane training and protections for you as the client. Note, though, that this doesn’t mean that we endorse any of these trainers specifically. You still need to do your homework on those in the list. Non-CAPDT-Member trainers you find on Google or other internet sites are not required to follow our strict Code of Ethics as dog training in Canada is not a regulated profession. That means that anyone – even someone without experience -can put up a sign and call themselves a dog trainer.
When you’re searching among the trainers on the market, it’s important you choose based on a combination of significant training experience and modern science-based principles.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association suggests choosing reward-based methods and avoiding associating yourself and behaviours with things the dog finds unpleasant – see more here.
We encourage you to have a list of questions ready when you contact the trainers so you can compare. A professional should be prepared to answer all your questions. On our “Training Articles” page you will find the answers we suggest — we hope the trainer you are consider has similar answers!
We encourage you to consider whether you are searching for a general family manners trainer or a trainer who specializes in areas such as sports, aggression or service dogs. For example, a general family manners trainer can help you train your service dog puppy not to jump up on people, but a specialized service dog trainer may be needed to help you teach your dog tasks. For more on service dogs and their training, check out this guiding report.
Aside from the regular considerations of price, class options, etc.; try asking if you can observe a class. A confident professional will not object. They may have expectations about your level of participation during the class (i.e. an observer should not consume class time that other participants have paid for).
Ask yourself the following questions when you observe a class:
- Did the trainer explain the exercises in a clear and easily understood manner?
- Did the participants look like they were having fun? (You may not think this is important but when the class is enjoyable you’ll be more willing to attend.)
- How did the dogs seem to enjoy the class? Was the trainer concerned about the dog’s enjoyment?
- Did the trainer take the time to help students who were struggling with an exercise?
- Was equipment aversive to the dog selected without considering reward-based methods?
After observing a class, ask the trainer questions about what you observed. A couple of thoughtful questions can be all the difference in finding the right trainer for you!
Another great question for the trainer is how do they educate themselves about dog behaviour and health on an ongoing basis.
One of the most critical observations you can make is the ability to talk to the trainer. Do you feel comfortable approaching the trainer and asking questions? It’s important to feel like you can ask questions. Like any other professional in your life – you must be prepared to have a working relationship with this person. Many dog owners attend more than one class so long-term fit is important.
Good luck with your search!