Finding and Working with a Dog Trainer

Posted by The Clawguard on

Most dogs have at least one bad habit. Some go rummaging through the trash can, others bark at the mail carrier, or scratch at the front door. We don't know a single pet without a few naughty moments. Do you?

Let's talk to an expert dog trainer, Angel Wasserman

Angel is a certified behavior consultant and dog trainer who owns Paws in Training in Raleigh, North Carolina.

With has more than 13 years of experience as a professional dog trainer, Angel has great insights into how to select the right dog trainer for you and your pet, and how to make the training stick.

When Should I Hire a Professional Dog Trainer?

The longer you wait, the more ingrained the behavior becomes in the dog, which usually increases the time and the costs required to resolve the problem. Dealt with immediately, many behavioral problems can be addressed in a single session.

The ideal time to seek help from a trainer is as soon as a negative behavior presents.

Dog trainer working with German Shepherd

What problems can a dog trainer help resolve?

CPDT-Certified dog trainers can help with dog obedience issues, new puppy concerns, child-dog safety and even introducing new pets into the family.

For serious behavioral problems such as fear, anxiety or aggression, hire an applied animal behaviorist, veterinary behaviorist, or CCBC-certified professional. In these cases the skills and educational requirements to treat behavioral problems are significantly different than those required for a dog trainer.

What should I look for when hiring a dog trainer?

1. Rewards

Look for a trainer who uses reward-based training. Rewards can come in many shapes: food, affection, play time, etc. These are all positive ways to reward your dog for learning.

Research shows that dogs do not need to be punished in order to learn. Avoid any trainer who advocates the use of force or specialty collars and leashes that could harm your dog.

2. Observe

If the trainer offers group classes, ask if you can sit in on one. Watch the dogs in class and see if they are happy, if they are rewarded for their accomplishments - and talk to the other dog owners too. You will learn a lot by observation.

3. Rapport

Once you have narrowed down your list, choose the trainer with which you have the best rapport. This is important because you and the trainer will be working together as a team.

Did they spend quality time with you on the phone? Did they ask good questions? Did they let YOU speak and do you feel like they heard and understood you? Having a good relationship with your trainer is key.

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has put together guidelines for finding a dog trainer  which are helpful and comprehensive.


What is your dog training philosophy?

My training philosophy is simple. Educate pets and owners using force-free, positive reinforcement methods and provide proven scientific training plans to ensure an animal’s success. More on what exactly that means here.

How did you get into dog training?

I worked in corporate America for 20 years, and trained dogs at the local shelter as a part-time hobby. Each year it seemed that I received more satisfaction from the training than I did from my corporate job! When corporate downsizing came knocking on my door, it was the perfect time to change paths and make my passion my career. That was ten years ago and honestly, I wish had done it sooner! I’m blessed to be able to say that I love my job. Day in and day out, I could not be happier.

Paws in Training clients with their petsPaws in Training clients with their pets

What do you love most about being a dog trainer?

I love the challenge of problem solving, identifying the root cause of behavioral problems and creating a plan to address them.

There is enormous satisfaction that comes from helping a family restore the relationship they had with their pet.

This is what training is all about; Getting the behaviors you want from your pet and eliminating those that you don’t want.

Paws in Training Graduate DogsTwo Paws in Training graduates 

Thanks to Angel for sharing her story and great tips for selecting a dog trainer. Find out more about her methods at Paws in Training, and stay tuned for more from Angel in the coming months!

Dog Behavior dog life Dog Training

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  • Angel is awesome!! Her training saved Esme’s life with the emergency recall command. Esme jumped out of my car at a gas station and tried to chase a motorcycle onto a busy road. I was freaking out but then I remembered our training. I put on a happy party voice and yelled the recall word. Esme turned around and ran back to me at double speed.

    Sian Brown on

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