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​How to choose a dog trainer?

Reward-based training methods are shown to be more effective and better for your dog. Choose a trainer who uses only humane, reward-based methods – this means the trainer will never use fear or pain to train your dog.

The BC SPCA has standards for dog training and we recommend choosing a trainer who follows our standards and is accredited by our AnimalKind program. See if a BC SPCA-recommended AnimalKind dog trainer is in your area, and read our standards (PDF).

Playful smiling happy dog lying on side on the grass

Choosing a good trainer

If an AnimalKind trainer is not in your area, look for a trainer that uses motivators like treats, food and play. Avoid trainers that use harsh verbal or physical corrections to punish your dog for unwanted behaviour.

Good trainers understand how dogs learn, know their behaviours and what motivates those behaviours. They will want to support and encourage you as you learn to train your dog.

Choose dog trainers who:

  • train with rewards like treats, food and play
  • use humane, science-based methods
  • make training fun for you and your dog
  • encourage you to watch or participate in training
  • explain dog behaviour and body language
  • have small class sizes (four to six dogs per trainer)
  • work with veterinarians to help you care for your dog
  • act professionally, and treat you and your dog with respect

Avoid dog trainers who:

  • use punishment like shouting, pushing, hitting or leash corrections
  • use shock, prong or choke collars
  • refuse to let you watch or participate
  • refuse to use treats or food rewards
  • talk about “dominance” or “alphas”
  • give medical advice or diagnoses
  • guarantee training results
  • make you feel uncomfortable, or make your dog scared or unhappy

Read a more detailed checklist on choosing a trainer.

The BC SPCA supports evidence-based force-free, humane training, and opposes training methods or equipment that cause anxiety, fear, distress, pain or injury. Learn more about the BC SPCA’s position on Animal Training.