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Top 10 Dog Trainers near you

1. Perfect Poochies
Top Pro
4.9
from 76 reviews
4.9
(76)
4.9 (76)
Great Value
  • 3 years in business
  • 129 hires on Thumbtack
"Choosing the right trainer is a difficult and overwhelming task. The following is my experience with Kathryn and Perfect Poochies. Summarized: Kathryn is amazing. I have a whole new skillset at my disposal. My dog is calmer, has less anxiety and if new issues surface, I am better prepared to deal with them. If you are a new dog owner looking for a starting point or find yourself struggling with any number of unwanted behavioral issues, she can help. Kathryn is extremely knowledgeable, experienced, versatile and patient. She was never condescending or judgmental while helping me understand areas I needed to improve. She has an uncanny ability to understand dogs and what makes them tick. Once she gets to know you and your dog, she will provide an honest assessment of what she considers to be the underlying issue(s) and lays out a plan for correcting or managing it. The love she puts into her work is evident in everything she does from designing your personalized sessions, her regular follow-up and her encouragement to reach out any time you have questions or issues. Detailed: I am a first-time dog owner. Our 18-month, 170-pound Great Dane, Odin has been part of our family since he was 2-months old. We immediately enrolled in the first two puppy training classes at Pet-Smart. Our family has consistently applied what we learned. Everything was going great with Odin until somewhere around 7-months of age. Odin would occasionally start barking at a person for no apparent reason. This behavior gradually increased to include anyone reaching into his face, unexpected fast movements and large groups of people swarming in on him. We solicited advice from our Pet-Smart trainer and studied tons of training materials – books, training guides, Internet. Some of the techniques we tried helped, but if Odin was truly upset, the only thing we could do was apologize and leave. Odin remained excellent with dogs and children but the number of adults that triggered his barking was increasing. During the summer, I was having work done on my car and I brought Odin because there were plenty of paths nearby. It took longer than expected for the car to be finished and when we returned Odin was exhausted. A young man approached, and I quickly warned about Odin’s anxiety and in his over-tired state, his behavior would probably be worse than normal. The man assured me that he had experience with dogs, and slowly bent down near Odin, leaving plenty of space and not making eye contact. He gave Odin time to get used to him and smell him and soon enough Odin was comfortable and enjoying being petted. Unfortunately, when the man was ready to leave, he jumped up which surprised/scared Odin who then also jumped up and started lunging, growling and barking at him. The man was very kind and understanding, but it was time to seek out professional help. I searched online for trainers and dog-behaviorists and there were a number of options. As we were trying to choose one, I remembered a friendly and outgoing woman who had hosted a free local dog training session. Odin seemed comfortable around her, so I reached out to see if she would be interested in private training sessions. The woman was Kathryn of Perfect Poochies. Not only did she offer private training, but she had ample experience with large dogs and the exact behavior I described. Our first training session involved getting to know our family and Odin. She asked questions about what we were experiencing and what we tried to mitigate it. Next, she analyzed our actions and body language as well as Odin’s behavior, response, reactions, attitude etc. She used this information to create a custom training plan for fear-aggression. We met once a week wherein she would teach me new techniques and verify I could perform them correctly. She would evaluate my actions and behavior and if anything I was doing contributed to his anxiety, she would help me find alternatives. At the end of the session, she always left me with several things to work on before our next session – as with anything in life, the key to success is repetition and consistency. Occasionally, she would introduce me to new products that could help with Odin’s training. The products were not a ‘company product’ or money-making gimmick - they were products she had success using with other dogs. If I wanted to try them, I had to find/order them. Following six sessions, Odin had less anxiety and I am able to successfully manage what remains. Odin now looks to me when he gets nervous instead of instantly reacting. By changing my leadership style, he obeys commands more readily and consistently. Before Odin would lurch and jump to get to anything that excited him (squirrels). Now, he just gives a light tug on the leash or stares. When he is told to “Leave It”, he settles down immediately. Previously, I would make large loops to avoid passing people. I was worried he might start barking at them. Now we can walk right by and all I have to do is tell him to “Leave It.” Odin’s responding immediately to my commands has increased my confidence, which in turn has decreased much of his anxiety. There are a couple of dog walkers in the neighborhood with whom I walk Odin. In the beginning of our training, Odin had limited contact with people and dogs. When I had the chance to meet up with them again, they marveled over the transformation in Odin’s behavior and how calm he bad become. Another technique she suggested is Odin wearing a bright vest that says, ‘In Training’ and lists a couple of items not to do around him (things that trigger his anxiety). The vest has helped make others aware of Odin’s ‘special needs’ well before they approach him. I have also gotten much better at recognizing things that may trigger his anxiety so I can avoid, prevent or discourage it. Thank you for reading my review. I am very grateful for the help I received from Perfect Poochies. It was worth every penny. Speaking of which, don’t stress about the fees, Perfect Poochies is perfectly affordable."

$100

estimated cost

$100

estimated cost

$100

estimated cost

2. Off-Leash K9 Training
4.7
from 22 reviews
4.7
(22)
4.7 (22)
Great Value
  • 9 years in business
  • 43 hires on Thumbtack
"I recently had my dog participate in the basic obedience class. Bijou is a rhodesian ridgeback and I adopted her 3 months ago and she was 1 year old. I quickly learned that Bijou was extremely smart but very stubborn. She would only listen to my commands if I had a treat and would basically pull my arm off on walks. Bijou was also house trained but because of her stubbornness she would have "accidents" in the house every single day not matter how often we took her out to go to the bathroom. In addition, Bijou got attacked by 3 dogs at a dog park and it changed her personality from playful to scared and she would get nasty every time she saw another dog out of her fear of being attacked. After day 1 of training Bijou was completely different. She was listening to all of my commands and it was obvious her confidence was coming back. After the 2nd training session Bijou stopped having "accidents" in the house and started going to the bathroom on command outside when I asked her to. Using the instructors approach to training we've been able to teach Bijou endless tricks and quickly. It's been a pleasure being able to take her on runs in the city off leash (and she'll stay right next to me even with other dogs around) and eat at resturants outside and not have her freak out. The best part is she plays so nicely with dogs again, and we were able to take her back to "A Dogs Day Out" because she plays so well again and it's due to having her confidence back. My sister stayed with me the past weekend and brought her dog Huck, a golden doodle, and everything was so peaceful in the house and they played so nicely outside together. One of the biggest compliments is when we are eating outside in the city and people stop in Aw of Bijou’s obedience and we get asked by complete strangers where she was trained and wish their dog was as well behaved. I think Nick's training is so effective because he discovered a way to communicate to dogs that fills that gap and better connects dogs with their owners. My sister was so impressed by Bijous improvement in obedience when she visited with her dog that she is now driving all the way from North Carolina to get Nicks training. My sister has completed 3 other dog training courses with little results. The best part is Nick guarantees results, and it's because he has a 100% success rate. Because Bijou is so obedient I’m excited to take her to more places and on more adventures like camping in the Boundary Waters, I know she’ll stay where I tell her to in the canoe and will stay close to me on the trails. It’s so great being able to take my dog out with me vs. leaving her at home because I know she’ll behave. Thank you for all of your help Nick, you've truely improved Bijou and my quality of life!"

$100

estimated cost

$100

estimated cost

$100

estimated cost

Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

Which dog training method is best?

The best type of dog training for both you and your dog depends on the outcomes you hope to achieve. If you want your dog to learn agility training, go to someone who specializes in those techniques. Regardless of whether you want your dog to learn basic behavior or competitive-level tricks, the majority of dog training is actually about training the owner how to communicate with their dog. Most professional dog trainers agree that a model of training based on positive reinforcement breeds a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. The alternative to positive reinforcement training is using force or aggression techniques like physical punishment or shock-collar training to get the dog to do (or not do) a behavior. While the dog may learn how to behavior as you direct, it is also learning to communicate with force and aggression, and will in turn use those behaviors on other dogs (or people) that are smaller or weaker than it is. Before signing up with a dog trainer, meet with the trainer and ask for references. Watch the trainer interact with your dog, and make sure they treat your dog with patience and firm kindness. Ask them questions about their training methods:

  • What type of training methods do you use?
  • What is your background and training, and how did you become a dog trainer?
  • How long do you expect that we will work together before we achieve the results I’m after?

How long does it take to train a puppy?

Dog training depends on the dog and how much homework the dog owner is willing to put in. Puppy training is similar to dog training in that the onus of the work depends on the owner learning new ways to interact with their dog. For a quick crash course, you can opt for a single, two hour smart-start puppy training consultation to teach you the ins and outs of being a new dog parent. You can learn how to manage potty training and what to do if the puppy experiences separation anxiety. As long as you’re willing to work on dog training a little bit each day, your puppy will quickly learn these new behaviors. If you’re not confident about training your puppy yourself, you can enroll in a 6- to 8-week puppy training course, with weekly lessons touching on everything from bite control to obedience. Puppies usually need to be at least three months old for group training classes. If you want more intensive one-on-one work, you can opt for private lessons. Some behavior problems can be resolved in one session if the dog owner learns and can implement new skills. In the case of more serious issues, 3 to 10 private sessions can typically correct challenges.

How old should a puppy be for training?

Dog training shouldn’t wait until you’re having behavior problems. If you get a new puppy, start from the beginning with professional training to give both you and your puppy the tools you need for a healthy relationship. Dog training is as much about teaching the owner how to interact with their new dog as it is about the dog learning to behave. Puppy training can start as early as eight weeks old. Trainers who offer puppy training programs may works specifically with dogs between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks old. Trainers can teach owners about potty training and how to deal with accidents, working with separation anxiety, and training your pooch out of destructive behaviors like chewing, biting and demand barking. Puppies will start to learn to walk on-leash and other basic skills.

In addition to behavior training, socializing your puppy is an important part of dog training. Socializing your dog means they become comfortable and confident in a variety of settings and have a great foundation for becoming a well-adjusted adult dog. After your puppy has had the proper vaccinations, you can start to introduce it to a variety of different dogs and people in safe settings.

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