Seeking a Good Dog Behavior Trainer Can be Confusing

Unless you know what to look for

Need help finding a dog behavior trainer for your Coton de Tulear (or any other breed)? This can be tricky and may require some research. Even certified dog trainers use a wide variety of training methods to teach you to train your dog.

How are you supposed to know how to choose the best professional dog trainer?

  • Positive reinforcement training?
  • Clicker training?
  • Choke collars, pinch collars, electric collars?
  • Dominance Training?
  • Leadership Training?
  • Dog Behaviorist?


First of all, when should you get help from a professional dog behavior trainer?

  • If your dog is aggressive or bites
  • If your dog is posing a threat of any kind to you or anyone else
  • If you learn better with one-on-one attention
  • If you need special attention for a specific bad dog behavior problem such as separation anxiety, or excessive barking
  • If all other training methods have failed and your dog's behavior is causing stress, frustration, and disharmony in your family. Too many dogs end up in shelters due to behavior problems that could be easily corrected with the proper skills.

What you should look for in a professional dog behavior trainer:

  • Does the trainer have a good rapport with dogs? Are the dogs happy and comfortable around the trainer? The trainer MUST have a genuine love and respect for dogs.
  • Does the trainer have a good rapport with YOU or your family members? A large part of the trainer's job is to teach you how to train and correct your dog's behavior. Since you will be spending a lot of time with this person it's important that you hit it off and feel comfortable with him or her.
  • What training philosophy does the trainer have? Does this philosophy match yours? If you believe in having a positive reinforcement type of training yet the trainer is big on dominance training; you are going to have an issue. Make sure know in advance what to expect.
  • What kind of training tools will be used? Will you be asked to use potentially harmful items used such as pinch or choke collars?
  • What kind of educational associations or organizations do they belong to? Is he or she a certified dog trainer requiring continuing education to keep up to date with the latest techniques?
  • What is the trainer's background or credentials? Where was he/she trained? How many years of experience?
  • How much will the training cost? What exactly is included in the sessions?

In addition to interviewing potential dog behavior trainers, get recommendations from other dog owners, your vet, your breeder, or local humane society. There's a lot to be said for word of mouth so get recommendations from people who have had successful experiences with their trainer.

You can also check the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) website to find a dog behavior trainer.

Always use your instinct. Some professional dog trainers will have you believe that their way is the only way and that you must never question their knowledge and training instructions. A good trainer will be happy to answer any of your questions and help you understand WHY their methods are important.

Any time a professional dog trainer tells you that the use of force, choke collars, pinch collars or any other potentially unsafe practice is okay, you should walk away. Any legitimate trainer who is truly attuned to dogs will not use these methods as a general rule. This is especially true when working with small dogs like the Coton de Tulear.

Having a dog as part of your family should ALWAYS be a positive experience for you and your dog. If you are experiencing any behavior problems that are preventing you from having a strong and happy relationship there are many avenues of help available.

If hiring a professional dog behavior trainer is too expensive or unavailable in your area, there are many good do-it-yourself training programs that are affordable and easily accessible. Read my dog training reviews here to learn more.

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