There are many different beliefs in dog training.  Some dog trainers talk about “being the alpha”.  Many insist that you must “show the dog who’s the boss”.   How is a dog owner supposed to choose a dog trainer?  Is it really necessary to frighten your dog in order to make him well behaved? 

Let’s change the context a little bit.  If you have an infection, do you go to a doctor?  Or do you try an old wives’ tale remedy?   If you go to a doctor for an infection, do you expect him to prescribe antibiotics?  How does the doctor know to use antibiotics on an infection?  How do you know that the sun will always rise in the east, and set in the west?  When you get out of bed in the morning, do you worry about falling up to the ceiling?  We know these things through science.  Science tells us that antibiotics fight infections, the sun will always rise in the east, that gravity will assure falling down, instead of falling up.  It is nice to be able to count on these things.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a science devoted to the training of your dog?  Well, there is a science devoted to animal training.  It is called applied behavior analysis. 

Like many scientific discoveries, applied behavior analysis allows the best, fastest, most humane results.  Trying to change a dog’s behavior without scientific knowledge is likely to result in inefficient methods, and perhaps unnecessary punishment applied to the dog.  You would not choose a doctor who had not been to medical school.  Don’t choose a dog trainer who supports unfounded beliefs.    Choose a dog trainer who understands the scientific principles behind animal training.  A trainer who understands the science should be able to train many different species of animals.  Dogs, cats, birds, elephants, and fish all learn the same way. 

How do you find someone who understands the science?  Depending on the severity of your problem, you might choose one of three types of qualifications.  The most qualified, educated person will be a veterinary behaviorist.  A vet behaviorist has all the training of a regular vet, plus years of additional training about animal behavior.  All of the veterinary behaviorists in the United States are listed here:

The next group, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists, can be found here:

Finally, you can find a Certified Professional Dog Trainer here:

The above groups have various levels of education, but each has proven knowledge of applied behavior analysis.  If you have a dog trainer who tells you that it is necessary to yell at your dog, to throw things, to alpha roll  or frighten your dog, review your choice of trainer.  You can have a wonderfully well behaved pet without any yelling or hitting.  Your dog should be your friend and family member.  You would not yell at or hit your friends or family.  Consider science based training for your beloved pet.


Tricia Fagan

Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed

DogS Gone Good

trainer @ (remove the spaces to send an email)

(713) 557-1949