How to find a good dog trainer


By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Whether you want to teach your new puppy basic commands or help a rescue dog become more comfortable in his new home, it pays to do your research before hiring a trainer. With so many options out there –  big box stores,  boot camps, boutique trainers – trying to make that decision can make your head spin!  Here are some tips to help make the process easier:

Evaluate. What kind of dog do you have? A 10 week old Lab puppy will have different needs than a 10 year old rescue Chihuahua.

Start googling. Find trainers or training companies near you and see what they have to offer. Keep in mind that in-home trainers, whether they are independent or affiliated with a company, have specific service areas and if you’re too far away you probably won’t be able to book sessions.

If you’re feeling confused by the different types of training philosophies, such as positive, balanced, clicker, etc., click here for more information.

Check the qualifications. Most reputable dog trainers will have formal education and official certification. If you see CPDT-KA after their name, you know they’ve put in the hours to become a respected professional.

Get reviews. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of candidates, start checking the online reviews and social media outlets; you should also ask your friends for their recommendations or for references from the trainer.

Trust your gut. If you’ve done all of your homework and you just don’t like the trainer after you’ve met them, move on. If your dog shows unusual signs of stress or fear, take his word for it and find a new trainer.

Enjoy the process! Learning with your pooch is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your best pal.

Renewal isn’t always about new

rosh hashanah

Hey Jamie… What’s with that weird pic of strangers, an array of sweets, and a Golden Retriever? 

Good question. 

It was a few snapshots I took last week at Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and season of reflection and renewal) dinner. I meant to get a few better ones, but by the time we drank a couple glasses of wine, and consumed waaaaay too much brisket and kugel, I was too tired. But here’s the thing… see that cute dog? That’s Charlie Bear, my cousin’s 1.5 year old Golden. She’s a beauty, and has her family wrapped around her four not-so-little paws. So much so that walking her has become a bit of a nightmare for them. My cousin Kiki shared that she’d tried everything from the Gentle Leader to a prong collar and nothing worked. Sitting on her counter, I saw a brand new fuchsia colored Sensation Harness just screaming to be opened and fit on Charlie.

Slightly buzzed, brisket-engorged dog trainer be damned. 

Fifteen minutes later I had Charlie Bear walking nicely next to me on her new harness. 

Moral(s) of the story? 

  1. Once a dog trainer, always a dog trainer. 
  2. Renewal isn’t always about new. 

Happy Autumn. Celebrate the turn of seasons and do something this week that makes you feel renewed. It will feel amazing. I promise. 

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only


And speaking of new beginnings – a huge welcome to all of the new friends we made at the Pet Sitters International Conference in New Orleans last week! (And a big shout out to our Education Director, Lynda Lobo, who wrangled that event single-handedly.)

High fives to our contest winners as well:

Level up your dog training skills at FetchFind Academy

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

We’re halfway through Essential Training Skills here at FetchFind Academy, and this was the scene in our classroom the other day:

Essentials 1
I mean, honestly – how can you not love a class staffed by Golden Retrievers?

Essentials is where we really start to train dog trainers – everything they learned in Behavior Fundamentals Online is taken apart, examined minutely, expanded upon, and put into hands-on practice. This is where all of that theory starts to make sense in the real world, and where our students start to become professional dog trainers.

After two more months of practice and projects, our Essentials students will move on to Advanced Training Skills. This is where they will do a deep dive into working with people as well as animals, via a wide range of internships and simulated situations. At the end of four months, they’ll be ready to start their careers as highly sought-after professional dog trainers. We have FetchFind Academy graduates in the top dog training companies, social welfare/therapy/humane education organizations, and rescues/shelters in the Chicago area and beyond (including AnimalSense, Paradise 4 Paws, Anything is Pawzible, Canine Therapy Corps, Pet Partners, Soggy Paws, Hawk City K9, Chicago Animal Care and Control, Safe Humane Chicago, The Anti-Cruelty Society, ALIVE Rescue, One Tail at a Time, All Terrain Canine, and Touch Dog Training). It’s almost impossible to overstate how many doors are open for people with top quality professional education and training – you can work for established companies, join a start up, or start your own business.

Advanced Training Skills is also a fantastic stand-alone program for dog trainers who want to level up their skills and pick up CEUs.

No matter where you originally trained, it’s always a sound career investment to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date. (If you’d like to learn more about joining us for Advanced Training Skills in August, please contact Lynda Lobo at

If you want to become a dog trainer, we recommend starting with Behavior Fundamentals Online – at only $49, it’s a great way to get your paws wet. And if you ever have any questions about how you can get started in any area of the pet industry, just shoot us an email at – we’re always happy to help!


“Can you fix my dog?”

datingBy Bill Mayeroff

When people learned I was studying to become a dog trainer, they normally responded in one of two ways:

“Oh, so you’re, like, teaching dogs to sit and stuff? That’s easy. Why do you need to study it?”

“That’s awesome! Hey, so my dog does [insert undesirable behavior]. Can you tell me how to fix it?”

Neither of those responses is malicious, even if they’re annoying. They’re just the result of a lack of knowledge. People don’t realize that dog trainers have worked and studied hard to get where they are. 

Let me give you an idea of how hard I and my classmates worked. During our time studying at FetchFind Academy, we spent a grand total of 120 hours – three hours a week over a total of 40 weeks – in the classroom. On top of that, there were thousands of pages of reading/other homework. There were the externships and outside observations; I’m not even going to try and calculate the total number of hours that entailed. There were tests and quizzes, along with the associated studying. There were video projects to create and papers to write. 

Long story short – we worked our butts off. And we’re still working. We’re building careers, we’re always trying to improve our skills and become the best trainers we can be. 

But people don’t always see training as a “real” career and as a result, they think that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask us to come up with a training program for their dog with little to no information and without offering any form of compensation. 

It happens almost as soon as people learn you’ve started training or even that you’re studying to become a trainer. And people will use any avenue they can to try and get free training advice out of you. 

Here’s a story for you. Being the busy, single guy I am, I use a few different dating apps to attempt to have some sort of romantic life. When I put on my profiles that I train dogs, the number of messages I got drastically increased. But it wasn’t people interested in dating me. Rather, it was people who wanted me to “fix” their dogs and not charge them. 

I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. One person even sent me a message that said simply “I need help training my puppy!” She didn’t respond when I said I was happy to try but needed more information and then told her my rate. Most people, in fact, just disappeared when I made any mention of more information or compensation.

Such requests are tough for me (and I imagine for other trainers, as well). I love training dogs and I want to be able to help as many dogs as I can. Plus, I love TALKING about training. So I’m always inclined to try to help. 

But one of the most important things I was taught at FetchFind is that I’m a professional, my time is valuable and I deserve compensation for it. I have to keep that, along with the fact that most people don’t realize how much work I and my fellow FetchFind alums put in, in mind when I get requests for free advice. 

Above all, I need to make sure I always have some of my business cards on hand.


Look at these two handsome gents.

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill Mayeroff‘s life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter. He recently graduated from FetchFind Academy and is a Junior Trainer at AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. Bill also blogs about his two favorite things – dogs and beer – at Pints and Pups.