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What do you look for in a dog trainer or dog training class?

I haven't really seen this question asked here before. I'm interested in a trainer/class training for: Pet/manners/CGC training: Competition training for obedience/rally/agility: and Working dog training for field/ service/ protection dogs. I know that there's a lot of good and bad infornation posted here. I'm just curious as to what people's thoughts and experiences are in training.

Details:

  • I actually asked this at one point and got tons of great answers (i hope whoever answered mine answers this one as well): http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Aj.48WhgoxuxtBVsM_T9B_jsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20100224141029AAObz1a Comes down to the basics: - How many personal dogs are titled/trained - How many did you HELP train/title - How many mentors, how many years under said mentor(s) - Number of dogs worked with, variety of breeds - Knowledge of NUMEROUS methods (not just one) I do NOT look for degrees form any colleges or schools because i have yet to find a school/class that does a good job in training multiple methods on multiple breeds/dogs. They can be good STARTER courses but you learn best from a mentor or several in real life situations.
  • I look for a trainer experienced in training a wide variety of breeds. Someone who can train poodles and labs is of no interest to me, not because I don't like the breeds, but if a trainer has no experience with more challenging breeds, I'm not going to pay them. I also sit and watch a class before I ever commit my dogs. I want to watch this trainer's interaction with the dogs, see how well they can read the dogs and if they have a wide repertoire or believe in only one method no matter the breed or temperament. I've now found an awesome obedience trainer for my Belgians who has years of experience, is a licensed judge and has herding dogs herself (shelties). She impressed me from the first class I attended with how extremely well she could read my dog right from the time she met him. She's a good teacher, willing and able to share all the little things that make a huge difference in competition. The classes at the open level are small, 6 dogs, so there's plenty of time for everyone to practice and for the instructor to watch all the dogs. She also tailors the methods used to best suit each individual dog. To me, that's a huge part of what makes a great instructor.
  • One of my frequent pieces of advice for people wanting to start agility is to go watch some classes, and talk to the instructors, before deciding which class to take. I'm always amazed at how many people will sign up for a class (agility, pet, whatever) with the only criterion being that it is the closest one! For people getting started in any dogsport, I want some time spent on foundation behaviors first, with the focus being on developing good teamwork. Person has to learn to reinforce appropriately, set appropriate criteria, direct the dog correctly, and dog needs to learn the specific skills, and that working with his person is the best thing that happens in his world. If I watch an advanced class and I don't see that teamwork, then that isn't the instructor for me.