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What Makes a Dog Trainer Truly Effective? The Research Tells All

In recent years, people have become more aware of the need to find a dog trainer who understands and uses evidence-based best practices. Evidence-based best practices refer to dog training methods that have been scientifically studied and demonstrated to be effective. However, just having research supporting a method is not sufficient - additional factors are needed for real-world success when applied with a living dog. Successfully bringing evidence-based protocols to life requires a blend of best evidence, clinical experience and patient preferences.

The Science Underpinning the Practices

A good dog trainer should be working with the clinical recommendations available to them from credentialed organizations like the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). Such organizations inform trainers about which practices are supported by the data they have analyzed. Their findings are not based on an individual trainer’s anecdotal evidence about why one method works better than another or why one tool is appropriate or not appropriate. There’s solid science behind the recommendations from groups like AVSAB. It's important to note that dog trainers are not data analysts or researchers - their role is the applied implementation of evidence-based protocols, not the evaluation of the research itself. Finding an individual study on google that fits a trainer's existing approach does not necessarily constitute an evidence-based best practice.

Clinical Expertise and Patient Preference

While the research lends credibility, no two dogs and their human companions are exactly the same. This is where the clinical experience of application comes in. Skilled trainers must get to intimately know each unique dog-human team and their lifestyle factors. Their hands-on expertise helps determine how to adapt scientifically-supported protocols for optimal real-world effectiveness with each distinct learner.

Personalizing each dog's training plan relies on two key factors. First, the trainer must comprehend the scientific research. Second, they must know how to apply that research to the unique aspects of each dog and human - including personality, home life, and capability to learn new behaviors.The recommendations serve as a flexible framework rather than rigid dictates. Finding the training "sweet spot" involves keen observation skills and intuition developed over extensive practical experience.

Blending Technical Knowledge with Practical Expertise

When properly balanced, the trainer's technical grasp of evidence-based principles aligns with and complements their clinical expertise for adaptation. Their scientific understanding fuels how they imaginatively tweak and tailor methods. In turn, their practical explorations reinforce rather than diminish the protocols' empirical foundations.

The most gifted trainers have almost a sixth sense for tweaking a plan just right for spectacular results. They fluidly adjust reward timing, distractions, motivation strategies and more within reasonable parameters. Their interplay of science-driven and clinically-experienced skills potentiate tremendous success.

When sincerely pursuing training excellence, the best evidence-based practices unify science and clinical expertise. The two factors blend seamlessly and in a manner that complements each other synergistically.


Interested to Learn More? Let's Chat!

If you read this article and thought - I could use some help training my dog with these evidence-based best practices - I'm here to assist! As a certified professional dog trainer, I have both the scientific knowledge and clinical experience to design an effective training plan tailored precisely to you and your dog's needs.

I offer customized online coaching programs to teach your dog new behaviors and troubleshoot any issues, all from the comfort of home. Everything is personalized for the unique needs of your canine companion.

If you're interested to learn more about my online training services, please click here to send me a message! I'd be delighted to chat more about how I can best help you and your dog meet your training goals and full potential together.

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