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Green Lights or Red Flags from a Dog Trainer.

You need to dominate your dog and show them who is boss!

RED FLAG. The theory of dominance has been debunked for many years. This “trainer” has not studied behavioural theory and is likely to encourage cruel techniques.  

I train through Positive Reinforcement.

GREEN LIGHT. Positive reinforcement rewards dogs for good behaviour rather than punishing dogs for doing things wrong. Research has shown this is not only an effective way to train your dog but reinforces the human-animal bond.

Our training uses all training techniques.

RED FLAG. Trainers often make this statement when they intend to use “positive punishment” as part of their training techniques. In general, if a trainer asks you to treat your dog in a way you would not treat a three year old child….don’t do it!

We need to punish or correct unwanted behaviours.

RED FLAG. Punishment is likely to damage the human-animal bond. Sometimes behaviour will change, however, punishment makes dogs more anxious and likely to have unpredictable breakout behaviours.

The trainer uses citronella collars, spray bottles and scary noises.

RED FLAG. Many behaviour problems in dogs are due to the dogs being anxious or frightened. Punishing and frightening these dogs is likely to make behaviour significantly worse.

My trainer regularly attends workshops and further education.

GREEN FLAG. Excellent dog trainers are passionate about further education. Studying the relationships and interactions between humans and animals is fascinating. An excellent dog trainer will have and open mind to new research and modern training techniques which are invaluable for improving the human-animal bond

It is very confusing looking for someone to help you with your dog’s behaviour problems.

The dog training industry is currently unregulated in Australia. This means that anyone, regardless of their education or experience, can call themselves a dog trainer, animal behaviourist, dog behaviour consultant or any combination of these terms.

When looking for training advice it can be tempting to look for a quick-fix and search YouTube or ask that well-meaning friend who “has owned dogs their whole life”. This can be problematic if they don’t have up to date knowledge in modern, humane training methods that are appropriate to your unique situation. It’s important to recognise that training your dog or resolving behaviour issues can take time.
The best guide is to look for the following:
Training and Certifications: There is an enormous range of dog training and behaviour qualifications. Completion of a Dog Training & Behaviour Certificate including both theoretical and practical (hands-on) components is a good start.
Because there is such a range of qualifications, membership of a professional association or recognised professional body should be a consideration. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers ( is an internationally recognised independent certifying body, requiring trainers to successfully sit an exam covering all aspects of dog training, along with demonstrated hands on experience. Trainers must also complete ongoing education to maintain their certification, and adhere to a code of ethics.
You can also check whether a trainer is a member of Australian based associations such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers ( and Pet Professionals Guild ( both of which require that their full members have appropriate dog training and behaviour qualifications.
Qualified trainers will generally have a website or social media with information about them, their training methods and education. Referrals from friends, family or your vet team are also a good place to start your search.



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