Why Every Dog Trainer Is Unique: Navigating Canada’s Unregulated Canine Coaching Landscape

As devoted dog parents, we often hear the call to obedience, the need for a well-behaved furry friend at our side. But before we proceed down the dog training path, it’s crucial to understand one underlying truth in the Canadian dog training arena: all dog trainers are not created equal.


A Country Wide Conundrum: Canada’s Lack of Regulatory Oversight

Imagine a world where anyone, regardless of education or experience, could be called a professional. In Canada, that’s not a far-fetched reality when it comes to dog trainers. With no governing body to oversee standards or certify professionals, the title of ‘dog trainer’ is as easily claimed as it is to call oneself an artist or a chef. And all it takes to add “professional” in front of that title is to take money for someone for doing that task.  With money in hand and task “completed” you can now call yourself a Professional Dog Trainer.  This unchecked freedom means that the person you entrust to train your beloved dog might have done little more than watched a few instructional videos or read a couple of books on the subject or it could mean they have done years of experience,courses and truly be qualified.


Finding The Trainer That Speaks Your Language – Literally

We often hear “I need a trainer” but what kind of trainer?   Basic obedience? Behavioural issue?  Reactivity? Aggression?  So it’s not just about finding someone who calls themselves a professional. Dog trainers, like teachers, wear many hats. But not every hat fits the head that wears it. It’s essential that trainers can not only communicate effectively with your four-legged companion but also resonate with you and have experience and knowledge in the issue you need solved with your pup. Training is a two-way street; it’s as much about teaching the pet as it is about teaching the pet parent how to communicate with their dog. If the methodology of the trainer doesn’t align with your personal beliefs or fails to make sense to you, the chances of successful training diminish significantly.


Expertise Matters: The Difference Is In The Detail

Saying you need a dog trainer is akin to saying you need a doctor — the specialty makes all the difference. The trainer you choose for basic puppy manners might not be well-suited for dealing with an aggressive or reactive dog, and vice versa. There’s a wealth of specializations within the field: some excel in positive reinforcement, others might use a more traditional approach, and many hone their skills towards specific behavioral issues.


Choosing Wisely: Your Guide To Selecting The Right Trainer

This unregulated domain doesn’t have to be a minefield. Here’s how you can ensure you’re putting your pup’s paw in the right hands:

1. Qualifications And Experience: While there’s no official certification, look for trainers who have undergone extensive training themselves, perhaps through recognized associations or schools.

2. Methodology Matters: Ask potential trainers about their methods. Do they use positive reinforcement? Are they open to discussing their philosophy and approach?

3. Specialties Speak Volumes: Determine what your dog specifically needs and seek out a trainer who specializes in that area, be it puppy basics, behavioral modification, or enrichment.

4. References Reassure: Speak to past clients or read testimonials. Much like any other service, the experiences of others can provide valuable insight.   Check out their Social Channels to see them in action and feedback from clients.

5. Communication Is Key: Ensure there’s a good rapport between you, the trainer, and your dog. The connection and understanding between you and your trainer is as important as the actual training.

6.  Availability:   If you work 9-5 Monday to Friday there is no point in hiring a trainer who only does classes or teaches during the week.    Find someone who aligns with your availability.

7. Follow up:  Once training is complete, what is the plan for follow up?  Can you reach out again if the issue pops up again, or you have questions or concerns or is it a one and done?    In other words, what does your payment include?


My best analogy

You should interview trainers to train/teach you and your pup as you would if you were interviewing a tutor for your 2 legged children.


Concluding Thoughts: Know Who’s Training Who

We often hear the aphorism that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but perhaps the adage we need to consider more is who is teaching, and what are their qualifications? Keep in mind, in the world of dog training, a professional self-title is easily given but not always earned. For the sake of your four-legged companion, invest the time in choosing a trainer that best suits your needs and those of your dog – as every responsible pet owner knows, they’re worth the effort.

Remember, when it comes to dog training in Canada, your selection shouldn’t be ruff. It should be informed and precise, for a well-trained dog is not just a reflection of a good trainer but of a caring and diligent pet parent.



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