Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Hiring a part-time Dog Trainer

    Posted 11-27-2022 05:12 AM
    Good morning:

    We recently received a small grant to hire a part-time dog trainer (1-year contract position).
    For those of you who have on-staff dog trainers, how did you go about the hiring process?
    What guidelines, criteria and questions did you ask? 
    Experience? Certifications?
    Did you do a working interview?

    Our shelter is small 501c3 private intake.
    We are located along the Gulf Coast Texas and the majority of trainers in our area utilize "balanced training" and more aversive training tools, which we are opposed to.
    We utilize only positive training methods at our shelter. 

    ( Please no debates or comments on R+ training vs Balanced training. I know it's a hot topic but it's our choice and we are committed to it. )

    Thank you for all of your help & insight!


    ann traynor-plowman

  • 2.  RE: Hiring a part-time Dog Trainer

    Posted 11-28-2022 08:00 AM
    I think what you intend for the trainer to do will influence the questions. For example, if this person would be exposed to or part of making euthanasia decisions then a question related to that should be asked.  If they'll be interacting with anyone who isn't a dog trainer you may want to see how well they can explain things to a layperson. Since R+ is important I would include a question about their training philosophy, how they handle errors/"disobeying", trainers they enjoy, and if they can agree to use R+. When it comes to certifications I'd be looking for CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, KPA, CDBC, and CTC-but if you aren't having luck finding someone with a certification you might need to rely on your questions and a demo to gauge their experience. 

    We have trainers for shelter dogs and trainers who work with the public. The interviews are a bit different, but both do include scenario questions,  observing shelter dogs and explaining their observations, and sometimes a demonstrations with a dog of a certain skill.

    Jasmine Odynski

  • 3.  RE: Hiring a part-time Dog Trainer

    Posted 11-29-2022 07:13 AM
    Hi Jasmine.

    We are a small, limited intake, no-kill non-profit, and fortunately,  it would be extremely rare that we would have a need for the trainer to provide euthanasia  consult.

    This is a new position and the right fit would conduct 1- group training class for adopters & 1- group training class for ourK9 volunteers to help keep handling skills consistent. The rest of the time they would be working with certain dogs who need more training consistency than our volunteers can provide.

    Thank you for your insight and I love the idea of scenario questions and observing the shelter dogs w/ explanations of what they are seeing. Would you be interested in providing any interview examples that you may utilize? 

    My goal is to find someone who is certified and uses R+ training methods but in our area I may need to go by experience, questions & observations as most are heavily into aversive training tools. 

    Thank you for the feedback!

    ann traynor-plowman

  • 4.  RE: Hiring a part-time Dog Trainer

    Posted 11-28-2022 02:07 PM
    It's a good point that there is a difference between trainers that work with shelter dogs and those that work with the public. It really depends on what you need them to be able to do. I had experience with working in a shelter and teaching classes and private lessons which was a requirement at my shelter. I have done working interviews but usually going to be interviewed by another professional trainer as it would be hard for a nontrainer to judge. Maybe a local trainer could help you interview? Certain certification require that trainers adhere to LIMA standards like CPDT so balanced trainers don't usually go for those in my opinion.

    Crystal Tysz

  • 5.  RE: Hiring a part-time Dog Trainer

    Posted 11-29-2022 06:59 AM
    Thank you for the insight, Crystal.

    This position will include 1- group training class for adopters and 1-group training class for or K9 volunteers (to help keep volunteer skills consistent), in addition to providing some training consistency for specified dogs. 

    We are fortunate to have a Certified K9 Behaviorist (R+) who provides us with K9 Body Language classes 3-4 times a year & assists us with evaluations/training plans on more challenging dogs as needed. We also have an Certified CPDT trainer who has assisted greatly with restructuring our K9 volunteer programs & although not certified, I've been training &/or assisting R+ Trainers with classes for years. I'm betting either the Trainer or Behaviorist can assist us with a working interview. The alphabet soup after a name carries more clout. 

    Thank you.

    ann traynor-plowman