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#9 – How to Tell When It’s Time to Go Pro!

This is number nine in Christy’s series of articles on encouraging the best behavior from your canine companion. The full series is called The Top 10 Training Traps and How to Avoid Them and you can read the rest of Christy’s outstanding advice here!

TRAP #9:

When you get stuck, you turn to friends, relatives, vets, groomers, daycare providers, retail clerks, books, TV shows, Internet, etc. And then you get really, really overloaded and confused. And you’re still stuck.


Dog training is a profession, not a hobby. Many of us work very hard to provide the best possible services to these wonderful companions and their caring parent/owner/guardians (POGs). We now have lots of smart people releasing tons of new information from science- and research-based studies to help us. BUT… 

  • There is still no national certification or registry for trainers.  Truly, anyone can call themselves a trainer. What they are relying on for information is anyone’s guess.
  • Trainers and others “in the biz” throw terms around like confetti without stopping to think what they really mean. For example, I signed on a new client who had first taken her sweet new dog to a basics group class run by a trainer who claimed to be rewards-based, but my client saw her spray mouth wash into a dog’s mouth for barking/whining and physically wrestle dogs to the floor who broke a down stay. Yikes! How is that rewarding for anyone?
  • Many if not most trainers, as well as many if not most animal service providers in general, are unaware we are in the middle of an information churn cycle where outdated “common knowledge” is being replaced by new, accurate information. That is why so many otherwise knowledgeable people still talk about dominance, pack, alpha, etc. even though these concepts were disproved/replaced years ago.

With all of the misinformation, outdated thinking, old wives’ tales, conflicting opinions and opposing philosophies out there, it can be impossible for a non-professional to sort it out without assistance.


Start treating your dog—and the training profession—with more respect!

When It’s Time to Go with Professional Dog Training

There are people out there who are knowledgeable, informed and eager to share what they know.


That being said, it’s still important to do your homework. Make sure the person you approach is a real DLSI/trainer and not someone who is doing this on the side, as a favor, has only trained his own dogs, etc. Ask for referrals, ask to sit in on a class to see if you are comfortable with the approach.

Also make sure the person you are considering is continuing to educate him/herself. The only way to keep providing the best possible service is to keep searching for more and new information and insights, continually asking how to do it better, to question everything so one never gets complacent.

That’s the way I do it, and there are plenty of other DLSIs/trainers equally as dedicated to their craft.  So you need to search us out! Ask lots of questions — if the answers are unsatisfying or evasive, keep looking.

For more on how to find a knowledgeable professional, see my article Find the Right Trainer.


Christy Paxton is the owner of Hand in Paw: Rewards-based Training for You and Your Dog and Cat, based in Brook Park. 


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