Dog trainers, also known as behavioral counselors or pet therapists, are professionals who specialize in teaching dogs how to behave. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have different levels of knowledge and experience. Some are self-taught through reading, while others attend professional classes or obtain a master's degree, doctorate, or additional certifications such as the CAAB (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist) or the ACAAB (Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist). These professionals are often referred to as applied animal behaviorists, and can be thought of as pet psychologists.Unfortunately, dog training is not regulated at the federal or state level, so there is no standard certification for dog trainers.
This means that anyone can claim to be a behaviorist. However, there are organizations such as the CCPDT (Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) and the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals) that offer certifications for professional trainers. These certifications require at least 300 hours of practical experience and the completion of a standardized test.Dog trainers use a variety of methods to teach dogs how to behave. These methods include positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, and cognitive learning.
Positive reinforcement is the most popular method used by trainers today and involves rewarding desired behaviors with treats or praise. Operant conditioning involves using rewards and punishments to shape behavior, while classical conditioning involves associating certain stimuli with certain behaviors. Cognitive learning involves teaching dogs to think for themselves and make decisions based on their environment.In addition to teaching dogs how to behave, dog trainers can also help owners interpret signs of aggression in their pets. This includes excessive barking, fear aggression, leash aggression, and other types of aggression.
Dog trainers can also help owners train their dogs for specific tasks such as search and rescue or tracking. Finally, they can help new puppy owners prepare for their first puppy and provide weekly classes until their dogs return to training school.When looking for a dog trainer, it is important to make sure that they only use positive reinforcement methods. This means that they should not use any specifically aversive methods for training or training aids such as electronic or barbed dog training collars (also called remote dog training collars or shock collars). It is also important to make sure that the trainer has experience working with the breed of dog you have.