When it comes to finding good dog agility trainers, it can be difficult to know where to start. Unlike other professions, there are no universally recognized certificates or governing bodies to guide you. However, there are some key things to look for when choosing a trainer. The best trainers are those who are committed to continuing education, staying up-to-date on the latest animal behavior research and training techniques, and gaining hands-on experience. When searching for a trainer, be sure to consider their experience, training methods, and communication skills to ensure they are the right fit for you and your furry friend.
Tips For Finding Great Dog Agility Trainers
The strategy for finding a great dog agility trainer mirrors how one will find a general dog trainer.
- Meet the Trainer: When vetting a trainer, it’s important to ensure that your dog is comfortable with them and respects them. A good trainer will use positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise, to encourage good behavior.
- Avoid Questionable Practices: Avoid trainers who use physical discipline, such as yelling, yanking on leashes, or hitting, as these methods can actually make a dog more aggressive and less obedient.
- Best Practices: Ultimately, finding a trainer who both you and your dog feel comfortable with is key to effective training. Be sure to utilize trainers that use positive reinforcement.
- Request References: Get recommendations from people who have firsthand experience with a trainer. Word of mouth is a great way to find a reputable trainer, so consider asking friends, veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, and staff at local shelters for their recommendations. These individuals can provide valuable insight into what to expect during a training session and help you find a trainer who is a good fit for you and your furry friend.
- Watch a Training Session: When searching for a dog agility trainer, it’s important to find one who is confident in their abilities and willing to let you observe a class. Pay attention to how the dogs respond to the trainer – if they seem unhappy or intimidated, it may not be the right fit. Additionally, observe how the trainer interacts with owners. A good trainer will not only teach the dogs, but also educate and guide the owners in the right direction. If a trainer is quick to reprimand without proper instruction, it may be best to continue your search.
- Dog Training Organizations: Two major organizations for dog trainers are the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Canine Professionals. It’s a good idea to ask potential trainers if they belong to either of these organizations and to ask for their credentials to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to train your furry friend.
Many dog trainers will offer agility training as a part of their overall services. If they do not, they can point you in the right direction.
Watch a Dog Agility Trial and Meet People
Dog agility trials are “competitive canine sporting events where dogs of various breeds navigate obstacles and are judged on speed and accuracy.” Sites such as AKC and many others typically list upcoming events and their locations. Before attending, be sure to ask about admission and if the event is open to the public. These events are a great way to speak with trainers and others who can help you find an agility trainer. Best of all, you can witness the fruits of their labor in real time!
Ask Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian might be able to recommend an agility trainer. If not, they will likely know someone in their circle who can help.
Ask Around at the Dog Park
If you notice a dog that appears to be well-trained and agile, strike up a conversation with their owner!