Firstly congratulations! If you have arrived at this page, you have probably either recently picked up a new puppy or are thinking about having a new puppy join your family. This is one of the most rewarding and exciting times!
However, sometimes navigating your way through the many offerings of puppy training and other services can be quite daunting, especially if you are welcoming a puppy for the first time. Choosing the right Dog Trainer for you is an important decision – and a very personal one! There are many things to consider so to help you on this journey, I have laid out below some thoughts and ideas from my own personal experiences that may help you to decide what type of training is right for you. I have also shared (where applicable) how these relate to my services such that you can get a feel for my ethos and me as a person.
I am always happy to answer questions by phone or email so if you have any questions please do get in touch. Remember, there is no right or wrong; it is all about personal choice and what is right for you and your family.
Choosing the right philosophy for you?
Different trainers will be trained and will train using different techniques and methods; ranging from reward-based reinforcement techniques to stricter enforcement methods. I would always encourage you to think about what feels right for you, your family, and the environment in which your dog will be living/working. I would also encourage you to discuss your preferences with any Dog Trainer before you sign up to ensure they will be able to train you in the techniques that are best suited to you.
About Me: I follow a simple philosophy; training should be fun, innovative and rewarding for both puppies/dogs and their humans. I personally believe in and train positive reward-based reinforcement techniques where we aim to understand your puppy/dog and their motivations, and then structure their rewards to reinforce the behaviours that we want in a force-free manner. I focus on helping your puppy/dog to adapt and integrate into family life and become a good family friend.
Does my Dog Trainer need a qualification or affiliation?
Currently the dog professional industry is not regulated, which means that legally a trainer does not require any qualification or affiliation to practice. There are currently actions being taken to tighten the requirements, minimum standards and regulations in this industry aimed at further protecting you as the public, which I expect you will see coming into effect over the coming years. There is no question that experience and reputation counts - however, in addition a qualified, accredited and affiliated trainer may give you further assurances as to the minimum standards you can expect.
About Me: I completed my qualifications with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers, accredited by the UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter (https://ukdogcharter.org/) and my certification is OCN accredited. I chose to affiliate myself with this organisation as they represent exactly what I am striving to achieve in my training; both with my own dogs and in a professional capacity. As an affiliated member of the IMDT I am also required to adhere to a Strict Code of Ethics to ensure both owner’s and dog’s training needs are met and exceeded in a positive and effective way (https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer/dog-trainer/mytchett)
What about class size? Does it matter?
Trainers will choose to run classes of different sizes to meet a range of different client needs. There is again no right or wrong. I would really encourage you to think about what environment would best meet the needs of you and your dog, and what would enable them to learn successfully. You know your puppy/dog best and what they would find most comfortable.
About Me: I personally choose to run classes limited to a maximum of 6 puppies/dogs as I believe this provides just the right balance; enabling socialisation and learning to maintain focus; limiting the class sizes ensures that your puppy/dog becomes used to working around other dogs, but not so many dogs that this experience becomes overwhelming for them. Smaller class sizes also enable me to tailor content to better meet the needs of your puppy/dog leading to a more bespoke experience.
What hidden costs should I look out for?
As part of your training programme, your trainer will advise you of any additional tools or equipment you will need to purchase in order to complete their training programme effectively. This can vary depending on your trainer and you should also discuss this with them before signing up.
About Me: To help you understand upfront the total cost of completing your new puppy/dog training; I personally include a branded clicker, treat bag and week-1 training treats in the package price. I also supply any other equipment required to complete the training sessions in the classroom. This ensures the package price is all you will need to pay to complete our programme. Your clicker, treats and treat bag will then be yours to take away, such that you can keep reinforcing the new skills you will learn long after the course is finished!
What if my puppy is not a puppy anymore?
Our puppies and dogs come into our lives through many different routes, at different ages and all with their own histories. Whether you have chosen a precious pedigree puppy or a treasured rescue dog; foundation training will always help them to settle into their new lives, teach them skills that will safeguard them in public and provide them with coping mechanisms that will help them with the different stresses they will be exposed to in their daily lives. I would encourage you to discuss any specific needs you may have with your Trainer to ensure they are aware and can accommodate your puppy/dog needs in their classes. If your dog does ever go on to do further training in the future, these courses will form the foundation of all their future education.
About Me: My foundation/puppy classes (Stages 1 & 2) are appropriate for dogs of all backgrounds. They will aim to teach your puppy/dog all the basic skills they need to settle into their new family lives. I have experience with pedigree puppies, as well as reactive rescue dogs and everything in between, so I do appreciate and can support their differing needs. I have personally found that this type of training is a great way for you to build a bond and grow trust with your new companion.
What if I want to do more with my puppy/dog?
People get puppies and rescue dogs for many reasons. Whether you are looking to work your dog, compete in sports or other leisure activities, or if you just simply want a family pet, learning the puppy/dog training basics will provide a strong foundation for any further activities that you may wish to undertake. When your puppy is young and their bones are still developing is the perfect time to master the basics such that they can move straight into your chosen activities when their bodies are mature enough.
About Me: All of my courses provide an excellent foundation to prepare your puppy/dog for any future activities you plan to undertake. Once you have mastered the basics, we can also offer guidance on any next steps and have a range of contacts that can help if you are considering taking up activities such Showing, Agility, Cani-cross, Bikejor, Scent-work etc once your puppy/dog is ready.
I have seen this Training cheaper online?
Many trainers are also now offering online training courses. These courses are a great complementary resource to help you keep developing your skills at home, but these do not replace the great benefits of face to face training.
About Me: I am a big advocate of the benefits of online training as a complementary resource to your classroom training – I even offer our own online training academy (https://www.woodlandpetservices.com/classes)! However, I do not personally believe that these can replace the skills and experiences that your puppy/dog will gain from training in a classroom environment; learning important social skills and maintaining focus when exposed to environmental distractions. I believe these two training methods complement each other really well and I would be happy to advise on either.
Closing thoughts: This is an exciting and thrilling time for you and your family! We wish you all the best on your journey and if I can help you in anyway; please do not hesitate to reach out to me.