RSPCA Shop Next Gen Education
Colour mode

Find a dog trainer

Training your dog is a vital part of responsible dog ownership. Not only does it give your dog important mental stimulation, but it's also a great way to get to know each other.

We recommend using reward-based training to motivate and teach your dog from an early age. Taking your dog to training classes will help you understand how your dog learns and will also give your dog the chance to develop important social skills.

How to find a dog trainer

Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, even if they don't have the appropriate knowledge and skills. It's important to find a good trainer, as some training methods can be harmful or cause your dog to develop behavioural problems.

The Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) sets and oversees standards of professional competence and animal welfare during training and behaviour therapy.

ABTC-registered animal training instructors have been assessed as having the right skills, knowledge and experience to support you and your pet. These professionals will teach you how to train your dog ethically and in a way that meets your dog's welfare needs.

What to look for in a good training class

Observe a training class without your dog before joining it with them. This allows you to see if you feel comfortable with the instructor and the methods they use. Look out for:

Dog behaviour

On the first day, some dogs may be anxious. Do the instructor or assistant help the anxious dog and their owner? In later classes, the dogs should be relaxed and interested. Be wary if dogs are cowering, have their tail between their legs or don't make eye contact.

Training methods

Look for reward-based training methods with food, play or toys. Don't join the class if training techniques rely on fear, pain, choke chains, shouting or hitting.

Class size

The APDT (UK) recommends no more than 8 puppies in a class with an instructor and 1 assistant.

Environment

Is the class calm and quiet? Lots of shouting or barking indicates high-stress levels.

Tailored for the individual

Dogs are motivated by different things and progress at different rates. Does the class allow dogs to feel relaxed before participating in activities?

On topic

Instructors shouldn't give advice about medical problems or serious behavioural issues - they should advise owners to speak to their vet or a clinical animal behaviourist.

Based on information from the Welfare in Dog Training.

Find out more