6 Tips on How to Choose a Dog Trainer Who Is Right For You After a Bad Experience

Mar 22, 2023
Four dogs hiking on a mountain top

When you're seeking out guidance in any area, especially dog training, it can be challenging finding the right person (or group of people) to work with. On one hand you may pick someone who is great with dogs, but difficult to work with or naturally get along with. On the other hand, you can find someone easy to get along with but you’re not accomplishing the results you were hoping for.


Dog training currently is a deregulated profession, meaning anyone can start a company and start training with little to no experience with no one to hold them accountable.  Which gives anyone an equal opportunity, but unfortunately can let a lot of wolves in to take advantage of people and not produce results.


We have been seeing this more and more in the Charlotte area where people have been coming to us after investing time and money with other companies that left them with little improvement or with new issues. Some come to us hopeless and others are rightfully frustrated. The real tragedy is the dog is just confused in the process.  As a company that has helped thousands of dogs and their owners over the years from all over the country, we put together six tips to help you pick a dog trainer or company in the future and hopefully avoid detours along the way.


  1. Check references, reviews and drop in on a class (without your dog). This may seem the most obvious but it needs to be said, and do it thoroughly! Comb through the website and social pages, read reviews and comments and ask to come to a class to watch in person how their training works with their clients firsthand. 
  2. Don't ignore red flags. How someone does one thing is how they do most everything. If they don't respond timely to you, they probably won't be sending you a lot of updates. If they are a little short of patience with you, they will probably be short of patience with your dog. If they are a “know it all on the phone” then they probably won’t be open to your questions and needs; only adhering to their training philosophy without wiggle room to support your lifestyle.
  3. Ask how much time they will spend coaching you. Too many trainers only focus on training the dog, but fail to train the human end in depth. If you are enrolling your dog in a board and train and the follow ups upon completion only include 1 or 2 lessons that are 1-2 hours each, that is a huge red flag. Do you receive notes and videos to refer back to on exercises that are taught? Do they proof behaviors, with you the owner, in various environments?
  4. Do you like talking to this person? You are going to be spending time with this person during your training sessions, taking direction and entrusting your dog’s well being in their hands. Ask yourself if you want to be around this person and be coached by this person. Sometimes it's that simple. 
  5. Be weary of a super long board and train. Unless it's for a specific behavior modification case, or specialized training, be weary of board and trains that go 6 weeks long or longer.  Especially if they keep them without any visits and updates are few and far between. Again, there are specialized programs for sport training work or a behavior mod case, but as a general rule if you have a 6 month old lab who jumps and pulls on a leash and someone is recommending a 6 week board and train program where you don't see the dog at all. That might be a red flag. We are not saying it is, it just might be. 
  6. If you feel something, say something.  We have all had experiences when we didn't trust our gut. It's one thing when it involves just us, but when we have animals who are trusting us we have a responsibility to put them in the best positions to succeed. There's a difference between being a fur mom or fur dad and just being responsible. There's so many other options out there, don't just settle for the cheapest or for the first or most convenient option. Trust your gut if something doesn't feel right, because it's probably not. 

Bonus* Go get your dog!!! If you do board with someone and your dog looks malnourished, or you have not seen or received an update in a day or so please go get your dog, It could save their life.



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