Dog training is the process of communicating (shaping or teaching) skills or behaviors. Both for the owner and their dog. For the dog, this can include teaching a response to certain commands, or helping a dog learn coping skills for stressful environments. –(source)
Dog training philosophies, approaches, techniques, and equipment differ greatly.
There are currently no licensing, education or experience requirements to work as a dog trainer or dog behavior professional; so it is important for you to be a knowledgeable consumer when selecting someone to help you learn more about your dog. –read more
Dog training is a divided profession.
By Jean Donaldson, Director of The SF/SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers. Article name: Talk softly and carry a Carrot or a Big Stick? –(source)
Dog trainers are not like plumbers, orthodontists or termite exterminators, who if there are six in a room together, will pretty much agree on how to do their jobs. Dog training camps (of philosophy) are more like Republicans and Democrats, all agree that a job needs to be done, but wildly differing on how to do it.
The big watershed in dog training is whether or not to include pain and fear as means of motivation. In the last twenty years the pendulum swing has been toward methods that use minimal pain, fear or intimidation – or none at all. The force-free movement has been partly driven by improved communication from the top. Applied behaviorists, those with advanced degrees in behavior, and veterinary behaviorists, veterinarians who have completed residencies specializing in behavior problems are in greater abundance than in previous decades, and there is more collaboration between these fields and trainers on the front lines. These two professions are quite unified on the point that the use of physical confrontation and pain is unnecessary, often detrimental and, importantly, unsafe.
On a more grassroots level, trainers have found more benign and sophisticated tools by boning up on applied behavior science themselves. Seminal books like marine mammal trainer Karen Pryor’s ‘Don’t Shoot the Dog’ made the case that training and behavior modification can be achieved without any force whatsoever.
Dog training is currently an unregulated profession: there are no laws governing practices. Prosecutions under general anti-cruelty statutes are occasionally successful but greatly hampered by the absence of legal standards pertaining specifically to training practices. Provided it’s in the name of training, someone with no formal education or certification can strangle your dog quite literally to death and conceivably get off scot-free.
It’s not a complete wilderness: three sets of dog training guidelines exist, one in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Mission Statement, one published by the Delta Society and one by the American Humane Association (AHA). All state that less invasive (i.e. without pain or force) techniques must be competently tried and exhausted before more invasive techniques attempted. Such guidelines are not yet mandatory but they’re a start.
The current professional climate is one laden with some remaining fierce debate. There’s an ever-expanding group of trainers that train force-free, (ad. literature will be some variation on the theme of “dog-friendly” or “pain-free”) trainers that still train primarily with force, (ad literature: “no-nonsense” or “common sense”) and trainers that employ liberal use of both force and rewards (ad literature: “balanced” or “eclectic”). From a consumer’s standpoint, the choice in methods is wide. You can hire a professional to train your dog pretty much any way that suits your fancy and it’s all legal.