Pet training is not a regulated industry in the United States, so the companion animal guardian is obliged to inform himself about the different approaches to training in order to select a trainer or training methodology that is both humane and effective. In the absence of personal recommendations and referrals from trusted individuals, the pet guardian in search of a humane trainer is advised to seek out a professional who has been certified by an independent credentialing organization such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (http://www.ccpdt.org/).
Beyond certification of the professional, factors to be considered in the choice of training methodology include the pet’s age, breed and temperament; the guardian’s ability and willingness to carry out the trainer’s instructions; and the specific training objectives that the guardian has identified. An additional consideration is the use of training tools and equipment, some of which can be harmful if used incorrectly or by anyone other than a professional.
If a pet is suffering from severe emotional distress or if there is concern that the pet will injure himself, other animals or people, pet guardians are urged to contact the Animal Behavior Society (http://animalbehaviorsociety.org/) or the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (http://www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/) for a referral to a certified applied animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. Additional pet behavior information is also available at the ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist.
The ASPCA supports training methods that are based on an understanding of how animals learn and incorporate kindness and respect for both the pet and the guardian. Humane training does not inflict unnecessary distress or discomfort on the pet. Humane training makes primary use of lures and rewards such as food, praise, petting and play. In addition to lures and rewards, there are many training tools and types of equipment designed to assist guardians in managing their pets’ behavior at home and in public places. The ASPCA supports the use of methods and equipment that effectively accomplish the training objective with the least amount of stress for the pet. The ASPCA is opposed to any training equipment that causes a pet to experience physical discomfort or undue anxiety.