Riverina K9

TOP TIPS ON FINDING A ‘QUALIFIED’ DOG TRAINER

Finding a qualified dog trainer image of dog following

TOP TIPS ON FINDING A 'QUALIFIED' DOG TRAINER

Locating quality services to support you and your dog when it comes to their behaviour, skills or wellbeing can be difficult or stressful if you aren’t first aware of a few key points to keep in mind as you work towards finding a practitioner suitable to the needs you have.

When seeking advice or sourcing help it is crucial you locate a qualified service provider who will have yours and your dog’s best interests at heart, delivering quality advice and guidance where you need them to.

It’s a sad truth that unfortunately there are many service providers out there that are underqualified and inexperienced but still manage to make big claims in an effort to market their businesses, this is where a new customer or someone new to this type of service may settle for services that are sadly not up to scratch without knowing much different. Sometimes sadly more stands to be lost than gained if the wrong advice is given or incorrect methods are applied. Just about anyone can claim anything when advertising or jumping on social media so it really is important to learn a little bit more and do your own due diligence before engaging someone to assist you. A little bit of time invested can save a lot of time and heart ache down the track…. trust me.

When looking for a suitable trainer, behaviour consultant or allied health professional I highly recommend looking more deeply into the following details on any practitioner to make some judgement calls on whether they seem a good fit for you before any bookings are made.

    1. Look for formal qualifications based around the services you are after. Ideally look for a person that has completed courses with national accreditation or legitimate certifications that meet a high standard of knowledge and practical assessment for the services on offer. In terms of dog training services in Australia quality national accreditation may be gained through a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour and Training or Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services as a good basis to look out for.
    2. Look for a good number of positive customers/client reviews and testimonials. These may be via word of mouth, on social media or on their website. Ideally you are after someone that has worked with many clients in a broad range of areas or focus points. A small number of total customer reviews may indicate lack of experience, limited time in the industry and lack of overall client satisfaction or results. I find Facebook reviews are great as it is a bit more difficult for someone to create fake reviews which it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for.
    3. Look for someone with professional memberships to industry organizations. This demonstrates simultaneously someone’s level of accreditation and experience as these organizations generally will only accept those as members that have a certain standard of qualification or experience in their field. These organizations have been established to develop and promote the highest standards of professional and business practice among canine professionals. A professional membership also demonstrates that professional abides by a code of conduct and ethics within that organization or institution to qualify their membership so there is safety in knowing a certain level of screening has already taken place. These codes are generally accessible for the public to read via the organizations websites and a practitioner will usually list their memberships proudly. As an example amongst a few others I am a professional member of the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals) which is a wonderful association to be a part of. Here is a link to their code of conduct and ethics page as an example.
    4. Search a professional industry registry for highly recommended qualified professionals and practitioners. These organizations recommend practitioners or trainers that have met a high level of qualification and experience in their industry. A national dog training registry is offered in australia via the NDTF (National Dog Trainers Federation) and for bodywork and rehabilitation practitioner quality registries are offered through SAENA (Small animal & Equine Naturopathic Association) and ACRA (Australian Canine Rehabilitation Association)
    5. Look for a practitioner that is experienced in their field. Many qualified and highly experienced professionals happily share how long they have worked with dogs or within the industry, because they are super proud of their efforts and work or accomplishments. Depending on the service you are after we believe experience along with formal qualifications play a key role in setting yourself and your dog up for a successful experience both in terms of making progress, efficiency of the processes involved and of course financially getting bang for your buck. This is especially important when working on behavioural issues, physical rehabilitation and puppy development and socialisation guidance and where inexperience or lack of knowledge may cause more harm than good. Certain dog trainers may also specialize in particular areas so this is also something to keep in mind if you have particular goals when looking for a practitioner.
    6. Look for a practitioners bio or quick story on how or why they got into the industry the work within. This generally demonstrates a persons passion and route they have taken to gain their qualifications and education. Passion and ethics are very important!
    7. Look for a trainer or practitioner showing direct video evidence of them working with animals or providing instruction to clients (outside of client reviews). This might be in the form of social media video training or informative posts or online course instructional or demonstration videos. This is more like evidence this practitioner can deliver on the services you might be after. Making sure the practitioner knows how to walk the walk and talk the talk is VERY IMPORTANT! Unfortunately, the dog training industry remains unregulated in Australia and just about anyone can and may claim they can train a dog with limited experience and next to no credentials, buyer beware! It’s extremely important customers and prospective clients do their own due diligence before settling on a professional that will provide them and their dog the best possible outcomes with your animal’s best interests at heart.
    8. Look for a practitioner or trainer that values ongoing study, personal research, attending seminars, work experience, shadow programs and professional mentorship. This generally relays someone that is proactive and values ongoing professional development staying up to speed with the current science, techniques and methods of delivery within their chosen field.
    9. Ask and enquire any questions you might have for them. Most practitioners will have website and contact page or an email to make contact. Many quality practitioners show their credentials on the website for full transparency. Overall, it may be a flag if a practitioner does not offer this information freely, dodges questions or doesn’t answer queries you have on their credentials or experience level.
    10. Be wary of practitioners or trainers that make big claims like they are the ‘best trainers’ or ‘experts in the industry’. Many times over if a trainer or practitioner has to market these statements its not a great sign if you have to tell everyone how great you are without much to back yourself up. When it comes to professionals in the field I’m always reminded of why Ferrari and Lamborghini don’t have to advertise to sell their cars – there is just simply no need as quality is quality. Big statements you might see in a practitioners adverts are generally marketing ploys if there is no other evidence easily on offer to back them up. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions or research into these claims and I recommend being cautious of taking someone’s word for it without evidence.
    11. And finally look for a practitioner that is fully insured for the services they offer. This includes coverage for humans and animals and specifies location or interested parties. This may seem fundamental but is very important when entrusting the care and health of your pet with someone that you know they have professional insurance coverage.

All in all, it is very important to do your own due diligence when looking for a trainer or health professional to work with according to your needs but also doing some simple screening that someone is the best option for you. I pride myself on being as transparent as possible and provide my audience or prospective clients as much information at the tip of their fingertips about me, my philosophy, my methods and my qualifications before they even engage me (on my website if anyone is interested). There can be a bit more to finding the right fit for you than just googling and settling for the first listing you find in my eyes. An honest and qualified practitioner will never steer away from answering questions about themselves or their qualifications and will provide you the quality support you are after or refer you on to someone more suitable. On the other hand, someone putting themselves out there advertising preying on naivety and desperation of customers can easily be dodged following the above advice and simple checks. This way you can be the judge of who you feel suites what you are after.

Hope you guys find this article helpful and it provides a list of suggestions for you to refer back to if needed at any point.

Happy Training!

Racheal Romeo is the Owner and Head Trainer of Riverina K9 Services

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