10 QUESTIONS: Essential knowledge when hiring a trainer or walker for your dog

Story by Donna Barrett

Summer 2022

Your puppy or dog needs the same care and duty you would give a child when researching care. Why? Because your companion animal is voiceless, trusting and, therefore, vulnerable. Luckily, Airdrie is rich in certified dog trainers and qualified walkers.

Here are the critical questions you need to have answered when hiring a professional dog trainer or walker:

  1. What education and experience does the professional have? You want the answer to be they are trained in and use humane and science-based methods. Anyone using the terms ”alpha,” “dominance,” “pack theory,” or equipment such as shock, prong or choke collars is not educated in canine behaviour science. They should also be certified in pet first aid as a minimum.
  2.  What Professional Certifications have they achieved? Their answer will include some form of common certification (letters behind their name). You can do a Google search to find out what all those letters mean.
  3. What training methods and walk management approach do they use? See answer to question number 1.
  4. What professional memberships do they maintain? Look for a FEAR FREE certification as a minimum.
  5. What insurance do they carry? PROfur is the most common insurance for the dog service industry, but if your dog is being transported, the professional needs to have separate vehicle or business insurance that covers your dog while in their vehicle.
  6. Do they have a recent RCMP “Vulnerable Sector” Check?
  7. What are their protocols in case of accident or injury to your dog? See answers to questions 1 and 5.
  8. What breed knowledge and experience do they have with your dog’s breed and or behaviours?
  9. Can you speak with other clients and do reference checks?
  10. In what types of scenarios do they refer out to another dog professional? The answer shows adherence to an ethical code and good standing amongst their peers and colleagues.


Donna Barrett, CPDT-KA, is owner/trainer at Polite Pups Training