Find a dog trainer

Why train your dog?

Training your dog is part of responsible dog ownership. It provides important mental stimulation and is a great way to get to know each other.

We recommend reward-based training to motivate and teach your dog, from an early age.

Training classes help you understand how your dog learns and provides opportunities for your dog to develop important social skills.

How to find a dog trainer

Young Retriever dog lying in a grassy field © Andrew Forsyth/RSPCA

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 lead to behaviour problems.

The Animal Behaviour and Training Council sets and oversees standards of professional competence and animal welfare in the training and behaviour therapy of animals.

ABTC Registered Animal Training Instructors have been assessed as having the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to support you and your pet. ABTC registered professionals will teach you how to train your dog ethically and in a way that meets your dog's welfare needs. 

Find an ABTC Registered Animal Training Instructor.

What to look for in a good training class

Observe a training class without your dog before joining. This gives you the opportunity to see if you feel comfortable with the instructor and methods being used.

Things to look for:

  • Dog behaviour - on the first day some dogs may be anxious. Does the instructor and/or assistants 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 do not 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 should not give advice about medical issues or serious behavioural issues. Owners should be advised to speak to their vet or a clinical animal behaviourist.

Based on information from the welfare in dog training website.

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