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The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (www.apdt.com) is an educational organization dedicated to promoting dog-friendly training methods.
The organization encourages the use of reinforcements and positive training rather than coercive or punishment-based training.
A competent instructor will encourage you to observe a class before enrolling. In a well-run class, dogs and people should enjoy themselves while learning. The instructor should be approachable. If space permits, all family members should be able to attend the class.
Lessons should be explained clearly by the instructor. He or she should demonstrate the behavior; give students enough time in class to practice the day's lesson; and assist students individually.
The trainer should use humane training methods. That means no hanging, beating, kicking, shocking, or anything that causes the dog pain and distress. You should have the absolute right to stop any trainer who, in your opinion, is causing your dog undue harm or distress.
A conscientious trainer will stay current on innovations in dog training and behavior tools and techniques. Check to see if the instructor is a member of any educational organizations, such as APDT.
A good instructor should take precautions to ensure your dog's health in a group setting. Ask if dogs and puppies are required to be vaccinated before class, and which vaccines are required. Check with your veterinarian; he or she should be comfortable with the vaccination requirements.
Here are a few things APDT suggests owners consider when picking a trainer:
For more information on choosing a trainer, please read Red Flags when Choosing a Trainer.