One of the best things you could possibly do for your dog and your family is to get professional dog training. A dog having good manners is important for everyone, but it’s particularly important when you live in the city. Ideally, your dog should be able to demonstrate the 12 commands of the Canine Good Neighbour program. If they can, you can be confident that your dog is comfortable at home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs.
We often get asked to recommend trainers. If I was searching for a trainer, I would need to know that my trainer used only humane methods (positive reinforcement/rewards), not aversive techniques (choke or pinch collars, shocks, scruffing, etc.) The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has a position statement that explains the various training approaches.
We have tied a number of trainers with our own dogs over the years and not all trainers meet our family’s needs. Yes, they can get a dog to do stuff, but their techniques can also damage the relationship between the owner and their dog. You can easily train your dog to "comply" because they are scared, or instead you can train your dog to think and want to please you because you are everything good in their world. In one of our previous posts, we describe some of our best and worst experiences.
BC SPCA commissioned a science review of training methods. A webinar about their findings is available on YouTube.
This is what you should do when interviewing potential dog trainers:
Are they Certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers or another credible professional accreditation body? (Just because they are not certified doesn’t mean they are not good. They just may not have gone through the rigour of exams. But if they have the CPDT, they are more likely to be verified as competent.)
What their training philosophy?
Do they abide by the Joint Standards of Practice for professional behavior consultants and trainers, which was developed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)?
Can you observe them in a class setting or with your dog to ensure that you are comfortable with their approach?
And, if you are ever uncomfortable with a training technique that a trainer advises, don't do it. Stop and leave. Watch points are trainers who lose their cool, yell or be at all aggressive with dogs. That is better than having your dog lose faith in you.