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Choosing The Right Trainer For Your Prospect

Updated: Mar 2

Choosing the right trainer is especially important when raising a service dog. Here is what you need to know.

Dog Trainer Training Dog

1. In-person vs. Virtual vs. Hybrid training

Traditionally, all dog training is done in person; however, this option is not always accessible. Luckily, due to an ever-evolving world more and more trainers are now offering online training courses that still feature one-on-one guidance and a personalized training roadmap. Additionally, some trainers will offer both services. When you are looking for your prospects trainer, it's important to consider what your needs are.

. Here are some aspects to consider when choosing which medium works best for you:

In Person

  • Easier for the trainer to give dog corrections

  • Easier for the trainer to connect with the dog

  • Less flexible with scheduling

  • More expensive due to travel costs

  • Often not available for dogs that are not fully vaccinated / May put dogs that are not fully vaccinated at risk.


  • Begin working with a trainer immediately even if your dog is not fully vaccinated

  • Begin training in a familiar environment ( gives time for both you and your prospect to adjust)

  • Cheaper than in-person

  • Scheduling flexibility

  • Eliminates the risk of contact with others due to health risks and concerns


  • Provides the opportunity for both in-person and virtual sessions

  • Maybe more than or equally as costly as in-person sessions

  • May be difficult to find one trainer who does both since this is a relatively new approach

2. Choose someone who specifies in training service dogs

Working with a trainer who understands the standards expected of a service dog is the most important factor in the success of your prospect. The best trainer will not only understand the difference in training a pet dog vs. a service dog, but they will have experience in doing so. Here are some things your trainer should understand if they are fit to work with you in training your prospect:

  • Knows How to temperament test a dog

  • Understands The best temperament score for service dogs ( Volhard standards )

  • Has a proven history of training successful teams

  • Requires a consultation to assess your needs ( and if they are right for the job)

  • Understands public access standards

  • Does NOT use the same formula for pet training as they do for service dog training

3. Choose a trainer who uses training methods you are comfortable with ( because you will need to replicate them to keep up with the training )

It is important that you choose a trainer who uses training methods that you are comfortable replicating and using. Service dog training is ongoing ( up until retirement), so you will need to uphold the standards your trainer has set. There are three general methods of dog training: Traditional, Balanced, and Positive. You can use this link to understand the difference between each three.

When considering the three training methodologies, you must in keep in mind that all training methods and tools can be harmful if used incorrectly, and you are more likely to make mistakes in training your prospect if you are uncomfortable with the methods being used. Too many mistakes can result in a reactive, fearful, or unmotivated dog. So it is important that during consultations with potential trainers, you ask about their training ideologies and speak up about any questions or concerns you have. Only work with a trainer when you are both knowledgeable and comfortable with their training techniques.

4. Your trainer should have open communication

When interviewing potential trainers, ask them about their communication policy.

Your trainer should be available for contact even after you stop working with them, just in case you need something clarified or have questions. A trainer that cares about their clients will always have an open line of communication with them.

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