So You Need a Dog Trainer? Where to Find and How to Hire Them

Unless an owner decides to enroll in group training classes at a big box pet store or specialized training facility, how would one go about finding a private in home dog trainer?


Most groomers, veterinarians, dog related businesses or other small businesses (coffee shops, used bookstores, etc.) should have a business card display where trainers may leave their card. Some of these trainers may have worked with the dog professionals, hoping for a decent referral.

Ask neighbors, friends, and family. Whether the experience was positive or negative, there will be feedback.

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shutterstock_54638644Places like Craigslist and Oodle must be utilized with an ounce of common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism. While there are some reputable trainers advertising on these sites, there are just as many “trainers” to avoid.

A good online place to start is the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). The site is set up to list trainers by zip code. Each trainer has a link to their website, their credentials listed and what they specialize in.

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is another site to find a reputable trainer. This site only lists trainers who have been certified, where as the APDT lists all dog professionals whether they are certified or not.


A trainer has been located; the hard part is over, right? Wrong! An owner has to decide whether this is a good fit. Training isn’t a one shot deal. It takes time and effort on both the trainers and the handler’s part. An owner has to determine whether this is a good fit. It is appropriate (and expected), during the initial consultation to ask questions about a trainers background and training. After all, this person is a virtual stranger. It is also a good time to make sure personality is a good match. Every owner/dog combination is different. Some prefer the brusque, no nonsense, “hard nose” trainer. Other owners prefer a more patient, easy going approach to training. The consultation is a perfect time for both owner and trainer to decide what type of training is needed and whether it will benefit all parties.


Most trainers’ prices are reasonable and many have discounts for specific things such as veteran owners, elderly owners or rescue dogs.  Prices may vary from trainer to trainer, but commitment to quality training is fairly consistent. Training is an investment of both time and money.

Whether a dog needs to work on basic obedience or a behavioral issue, owner and trainer must be on the same page and working toward the same goal; what is best for the dog.


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