There is a myriad of reasons for carefully selecting a trainer for your pup…from sports training to obedience training to breed-specific training to socializing your dog with other dogs. If you are a new dog owner, training can be a very promising opportunity to learn how to effectively parent your new pup. Even with years of experience as an avid dog lover and owner, having a trainer you can trust can help you identify specific concerns or trouble spots, and it can also help you sharpen your dog-parenting skills.
Finding the right trainer won’t come easily.
Unfortunately, picking the nearest training school can sometimes lead to absolute disaster. Same with calling the neighbor next door. These days, anyone can claim to be a professional trainer and charge for services, regardless of their experience or education.
We strongly advise that you research many candidates before picking one that is right for you.
Similar to human relationships, animals have their own unique personalities and perceptions. Do your best to find a trainer that has previous experience working with the same breed as your dog. The AKC recommends finding a trainer whose classes infuse behavior techniques, communication skills, agility, learning, socializing, and advice on grooming and handling.
“Great trainers understand that their job is to train you—to train your dog. Although they may want to work with one adult at a time depending on a dog’s issues, at some point in the process, they should welcome the entire household — kids included. First-rate trainers understand the importance of getting the whole family on board for consistency,” says the AKC in Choosing a Great Dog Trainer 101.
Know the right questions to ask the trainer—before you hire them.
What are the trainer’s preferred methods? What approach do they typically take? What is their personal training philosophy? What issues have they encountered in the past, and how did they handle them? How does he/she plan on rewarding and correcting the dog for positive vs. negative behavior? Consider it a job interview; make a list!
Also, consider doing some background research to learn more about what sets one trainer apart from another.
Consider private training.
This private and intimate training experience can be done right within your own home, at a training facility, or even outside a classroom altogether. It will most likely be your most expensive option but can provide a very close-knit training experience for dog, owner and trainer—potentially maximizing your investment.
If your dog is easily overstimulated and/or other dogs make him/her nervous or anxious, you may want to keep searching until you are able to find a one-on-one training environment for your Cane Corso. Just be sure your pup gets proper socialization while young!
Determine what you need from a trainer.
Before you move forward with any trainer, we suggest making a list of the reasons you want training for your dog. What are some breed or personality specific concerns or questions you have? What behaviors has your dog demonstrated that have left you feeling frustrated and ill-equipped to handle? Make a list, and then review it with your prospective trainer.
Use these questions provided by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers:
- What method of training do you use?
- What is your educational background in the area of dog training (and behavior if applicable)?
- What is some recent continuing education that you have attended?
- What equipment do you use?
- What kind of follow-up do you provide to our clinic on your work with our clients?
- Can you provide a list of clients we can contact for references?
- Do you belong to any professional associations, and if not, why not?
- What are your credentials and do you have any certifications?
- What sort of services do you provide for pet owners? Do you provide specialized services? (i.e. therapy dog training, competitive dog sports training, service dog training)
The reality is that dog trainers actually teach you—the owner. You’ll need to feel extremely comfortable around your trainer, because you will be his or her student. He or she should be patient, encouraging, and respectful. Consider observing a class and watch to see how the dog and the trainer interact.
Ask for recommendations from people and places you trust.
There are many places to get a recommendation for a trainer. First, you can check out the Certification for Professional Dog Trainers directory or you can access the Association of Professional Dog Trainers trainer search.
Remember to avoid picking a trainer based on likeability or popular reviews. Make sure they are truly the right teacher for you, your Cane Corso, and your unique training needs using the above strategies and insights.
The Juice is (Most Likely) Worth the Squeeze.
Many families feel it is a waste of money to hire a professional to help with training their new family addition. Nine times out of ten, however, investing in proper training early in your Cane Corso’s life will save you time, effort, energy, and money…and sometimes, a lot of heartache over the long run. The sooner you master the skills for effective ownership and learn to address behavioral building blocks, the less likely you’ll be to encounter serious behavior issues you can’t manage down the road.