Many people ask my advice regarding finding a trainer, I'm a retired professional trainer for over 40 years. I have some opinions on this subject, before selecting a trainer you should see their work before committing to a training program.
A trainer should have experience with the Malinois breed, this is important as many obedience trainers do not have experience with this breed. Good trainers are very hard to find, like automotive mechanics; there are many Shadetree dog trainers, there are also many handlers that say they are trainers, a trainer who works with puppies needs to make the training fun. It starts as a game, using high value reward-based training. Marking behavior, puppies can be started early into the learning phase, and eventually go into what is known as the proofing phase.
A good trainer varies, their training method to suit the individual dog. So, a real trainer knows multiple methods to achieve their goal. I like to see a dog work with speed and precision, and importantly the tail must wag while training. A trainer knows how to balance positive and negative reinforcement. A trainer who does not balance properly and uses too much negative reinforcement shows in the way the dog works.
If the dog is always fearful, this is not good. As too much stress causes problems, so bad training is evident when a trainer does not balance properly.
Remember, No training is better than bad training as it's hard to undo problems that you create through improper training. if you only use reward
based training, your dog will not be consistent when it needs to be.
It's important to see the trainers work and that they will be willing to work with you and show you their training techniques that they used so you can reinforce the training. It is as much training for the handler as the dog. There are trainers who offer in-board training, group classes and private lessons, all are good. Be very careful when letting someone take your dog for in-board training.
and avoid trainers that offer crash course boot camps as there are no shortcuts to good training, to do it right takes time, also the best trainers will not be cheap as you will get what you pay for most of the time.
It's important to educate yourself in that most people do not know what good training is, or what looks like. there are many different types of trainers
who specialize in different types of training. some are former police K9 Trainers, others have competed in dog sports, It's important to look at their work
and if possible, get references before committing to a training course.
Our next blog part 4 will address protection dog training.