Incorrect Use Of Term “Dog Trainer”

A dog trainer is one who trains DOGS. I am a dog trainer because I train my own dogs and other people’s dogs FOR THEM.

Using the term “dog trainer” to mean someone who teaches dog training classes or individual sessions professionally, actually does a disservice to many people who own dogs, especially if they are first time dog owners or novices in the dog world.

The reason is this:

Many people think that bringing a dog to dog training classes will train their dog. Even after the great amount of advancement in the training profession, some still think that a class is what trains your dog, or the person who teaches the class is training your dog while you are there.

The truth of the matter is that as a so-called “dog trainer” in a training class, one trains PEOPLE not dogs. You go to class to learn how to train your dog. Most of the time dogs struggle in class because there are too many distractions. Training is really done at home. The training classes are for people, to show how far they have come at home with the training. And the instructors of those classes are people trainers.

I am not training this woman’s dog. I am instructing her on how to train her dog.

I have myself taken dozens of “dog training” classes. I have taught hundreds of them as well. Very rarely have I ever trained someone else’s dog in class, or my own in class for that matter. Occasionally I would use another person’s dog to demo a technique, but training was extremely minimal. Again, the real training was done at home.

I don’t know if there is anything that can be done to change the term for dog trainer. It should really be dog training instructor or dog training professional. I know that the change is needed and will help to clarify to the public what an instructor and a training class actually accomplishes. I also know that I will be changing my usage of the term dog trainer. If you train your dog, you are a dog trainer.

4 thoughts on “Incorrect Use Of Term “Dog Trainer”

  1. Love this Post. The misuse of the English Language over the years is probably responsible for many people not trying to train their dog simply because they are not dog trainers! Also the often heard statement of “getting a trainer to train my dog” can be understood with the current terminology. You’re a dog trainer and therefore you train dogs!

    Dog Training Instructor is probably as precise as you can get and, if you offer programs in How to Train Your Dog, it becomes pretty clear what your role is. Dog Training Professional does not work for me simply because you still have the Dog Training logic but with some implied professional qualifications.

    Swimming Instructors teach swimming. Driving Instructors teach driving. Dog training Instructors must teach Dog Training! 🙂


  2. I am rather surprised that you have had no further comments on this subject. Even a contrasting view would be interesting. Untrained dogs have been such an issue with Ray and I, and I have heard of people who returned their dog to a humane society because “it was not trained”; I have read about people who want to send their dog away for training!! Our experience was that training Ray ourselves (with lots of help and guidance from trainers) provided an incredible opportunity to bond with him, a fact which we all appreciated. Of course it also educated us sufficiently to take on other “Ray training” projects, but the bonding ……… a priceless benefit from getting directly involved. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s