WHY HIRE A CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL?
From celebrity trainers to board certified veterinary behaviorists, there is a broad spectrum of what constitutes expertise in the field of applied dog behavior. It can certainly be confusing to those who are just looking to help their dogs reach their full potential.
Raising Fido Dog Training believes that the cognitive health of your dog is just as important as their physical health. Dog training is an unregulated field where ANYONE can call themselves an expert based on their own opinion, regardless of any legit qualifications to back it up. It is perfectly legal for anyone to advertise as a professional "dog trainer," "dog behaviourist," "dog psychologist," "dog behaviour consultant," "dog behaviouralist" (you name it) without having achieved any certification to show they possess at least a minimum standard of current knowledge. It's an extremely problematic situation that causes many unqualified individuals to mislead, or worse, do harm to clients, dogs, and members of the public.
A Google search for "dog trainers in Calgary", or receiving a word of mouth referral, are convenient ways to start the search for a dog trainer. However, due to the uncontrolled nature of this industry, consumers need to go an extra step further and perform their own due diligence to determine who is a trustworthy credentialed professional. Those who proudly share information about their schooling, credible apprenticeships, testing achievements via certifying bodies, and continuous professional development from specialized professionals shows that their knowledge of welfare-focused best practices is likely to be accurate and this should be your baseline expectation. It doesn't necessarily mean everyone with credentials will be an outstanding trainer or that they will mesh well with you and your learning style - more to look into!
People with dogs deserve assurance that there is a high minimum standard of care based on real data being maintained throughout the training industry in order to protect them, their hard earned money, and their dog - but, unfortunately, it's still presently a case of buyer beware. There are certifying bodies working feverishly to help make regulation a reality one day, but until then, possessing respected certifications is the best starting point we have.
Hiring a professional who is educated and trained in the methods you want to use with your dog is important, but competency alone isn't enough. Finding someone who aligns with your ethics and values when it comes to the welfare of your dog is equally important.
Having any certifications at all is a good start, but there are a multitude out there, some with a lot of merit and others with little. We recommend looking into the details behind a trainer’s certification, association membership, and/or designation letters to be fully informed about how you can expect them to work with you and your dog. If ever in doubt, ASK!
You have a right to know what methods and equipment will be used to help train your dog. How exactly will the person you hire communicate to your dog when they've gotten something right? What about when they get something wrong? Be sure you are comfortable with their answers, if you're not, move on!
Puppyhood and adolescence are very vulnerable times for dogs. What they experience during their first two years of life shapes who they will become as an adult. Within this time frame they go through the majority of developmental stages, including a sensitive socialization period. It behooves all of us to ensure the trainer we choose to work with possesses more than just surface or shallow knowledge - it's just not worth the long term risks to us or our dog.
To get the most out of your investment (financial, emotional, time, etc.) and really set yourself and your dog up for long term success, be sure to look for a trainer with a deep knowledge of canine ethology, applied behavior analysis, evolution, learning theory, breeds and genetics, pedagogy and instruction methods for dog trainers, plus knows how to contextually apply all that knowledge in a way that produces positive outcomes. What a trainer or consultant does and says when working with your dog is going to impact both of your lives, so choosing who to work with is not a decision to make lightly.