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Bringing a dog into your home can be one of the most rewarding experiences. However, training your furry friend can be a challenging task that requires a lot of patience, time, and effort.

Hiring an in-home dog trainer can be a great way to help you and your dog develop the skills necessary for a happy and healthy relationship. But, how do you know which dog trainer is right for you and your pup?

rottie working with a good in-home dog trainer

What to Look for in a Good In-Home Dog Trainer

Here are some tips on what to look for in an in-home dog trainer, and how to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Experience and Certification

When choosing an in-home dog trainer, it is essential to ensure that they have the necessary training and experience to handle your pup.

Look for a trainer with a certification from a reputable organization such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). This certification demonstrates that the trainer has met specific education and training requirements and passed a rigorous examination.

In addition, you should also look for a trainer who has experience working with dogs of your breed, age, and size.

Cost and Availability

The cost and availability of an in-home dog trainer should also be considered when making your decision. While you want to find a trainer who is within your budget, it’s also important to make sure they have availability to work with your schedule. Be wary of trainers who offer extremely low rates, as they may not have the necessary experience or qualifications.

Related: How Much Does In-Home Dog Training Cost?

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Positive reinforcement is a popular and effective training method that rewards good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior.

It is essential to look for an in-home dog trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques to train your dog. This method is not only more humane, but it also helps create a stronger bond between you and your pup.

Since different professionals use different keywords and phrases for their techniques, let’s just quickly go over some of the most common types of positive reinforcement training. That way, you know which words to look for as you shop around for a good in-home dog trainer.

  1. Clicker Training: Clicker training involves using a small handheld device that makes a distinct clicking sound to mark desired behaviors. The sound of the click is associated with a reward, such as a treat, and is used to reinforce the behavior.
  2. Treat-Based Training: As the name implies, this type of training involves using dog treats as rewards to reinforce desired behavior. Dogs learn to associate the behavior with the treat and are more likely to repeat the behavior in the future.
  3. Praise-Based Training: Praise-based training involves using verbal praise, such as “Good boy!” or “Good girl!”, to reinforce desired behavior. Dogs respond well to positive attention and are more likely to repeat the behavior in the future.
  4. Play-Based Training: Play-based training involves using playtime as a reward for desired behavior. Dogs who enjoy playing can be motivated by the opportunity to play with a toy or engage in a game of fetch.
  5. Life Rewards: Life rewards involve using opportunities or privileges, such as going for a walk or being allowed to play with other dogs, as a reward for desired behavior. These types of rewards are particularly useful for dogs who are not food-motivated.
  6. Training with Toys: Training with toys involves using a favorite toy as a reward for desired behavior. For example, if a dog sits on command, they may be rewarded with a game of tug-of-war or fetch with their favorite toy.
  7. Choice Training: Choice training involves giving a dog the opportunity to choose between two desirable behaviors. For example, a dog may be given the choice to either come when called or go play with another dog.

Personalized Training Plan

Choosing a dog trainer that provides a personalized training plan is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, every dog is unique and has their own set of personality traits, behavioral tendencies, and learning abilities. A one-size-fits-all training program may not work for your dog or may not address the specific issues you are dealing with.

A personalized training plan takes into consideration your dog’s individual needs and allows the trainer to tailor their approach accordingly. This means that your dog will receive the specific training they need to address their behavioral challenges and help them develop good habits.

Secondly, a personalized training plan keeps you involved in the training process. That way, you can provide feedback to the trainer as needed. A good trainer should work with you to identify your goals for your dog’s behavior and develop a plan that addresses these goals.

With a personalized plan, you will have a clear understanding of what your dog is working on, what you need to do to reinforce training outside of sessions, and how long it may take to see results.

This level of transparency and communication between you and the trainer can lead to a more effective training experience for both you and your dog, ultimately resulting in a happier and more well-behaved furry friend.

Clear Communication

Good communication between you and your in-home dog trainer is vital for a successful training program. Look for a trainer who is clear and concise in their instructions, and who takes the time to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

If you’re not sure what to ask, here’s a good list of questions to start with:

  1. Can you tell me about your training philosophy and methods?
  2. What types of behavior issues have you worked with before?
  3. How long have you been training dogs?
  4. Do you have any certifications or accreditations?
  5. Can you provide references from past clients?
  6. Do you have experience working with dogs of my dog’s breed, age, or size?
  7. How do you create a personalized training plan for each dog?
  8. How long are your training sessions, and how many sessions will my dog need?
  9. What is your fee structure, and does that fee include?
  10. Will you provide follow-up support or additional training sessions if needed?

References and Reviews

Before hiring an in-home dog trainer, be sure to ask for references and read reviews from past clients. This information can help you get a better sense of the trainer’s qualifications, experience, and customer service. You can also ask the trainer for before and after videos or pictures of dogs they’ve trained.

Red Flags to Look For

There are some red flags to look out for when hiring an in-home dog trainer. Be cautious of trainers who use harsh punishment methods or who claim to have a “quick fix” for your dog’s behavior problems. These methods are not only inhumane, but they can also worsen behavior problems in the long run.

In addition, be wary of trainers who refuse to let you watch their training sessions or who do not provide clear contracts or agreements.


Choosing the right in-home dog trainer can be a daunting task, but by following these tips, you can ensure that you find the best fit for you and your furry friend.

Remember to look for a trainer with experience and certification, who uses positive reinforcement techniques, creates a personalized training plan, communicates well, has good references and reviews, and is transparent about cost and availability.

With the right trainer, you can develop a strong bond with your dog, and enjoy a happy and healthy relationship for many years to come.

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