What to look for

Trainers have many styles, techniques and pricing structures. The most important things to keep in mind are:

  1. There is no such thing as too old or too young to start!
  2. Training is 30% about the dog, 70% about the owner/handler
    • The most obnoxious training question I get asked is “did you train her yourself?”. A trainer teaches you how to train your dog. They do not wave a magic wand and your dog is now well behaved. It is NOT like sending your kid to school!
  3. Find a trainer who you can connect with and understand
    • Since the trainer’s main job is training YOU, it’s important that you can understand them and trust what they’re telling you.
  4. Training is all about repetition.
    • They say a dog needs to repeat a command 30 times with a cue before they’ve learned it. This sounds like a lot; however, it does’t mean you need to set aside 2 hours a day. Especially while young, your puppy can’t concentrate for more than 5-10 minutes at a time so train in short bursts throughout the day! A great way to time training sessions is every commercial break while watching TV.
  5. If you’ve bought/adopted a puppy (under 1 year old) then expect to spend as much on training as you spent on the dog, maybe more!
    • The reality is that you’re going to spend pretty much the first year and a half training your dog. If this is your first dog, expect to be working with a trainer on and off over that time. And we haven’t even talked about Dog Sports yet!

Nationwide Pet store trainers

Both PetCo and PetSMART typically have in-store training classes. They’re on the cheaper end of the spectrum and provide a great environment with lots of strange smells, sounds and people around the class. The downside is that the quality of the class you will get is entirely based on the trainer who is teaching it. The Lynnwood, WA PetSMART’s lead trainer is Kerri McClelland, a member of the PNW GSD Pack group, and she’s awesome! She’s a great resource to find out who the good trainers are at other King County PetSMART locations. For any other PetCo or PetSMART locations, post in the group looking for reviews and references to figure out who the good trainers are.

Western Washington:

Show recommendations in Western Washington
Trainers on this list are in alphabetical order.

A Savvy Dog Training

(http://asavvydogtraining.com) – Lynnwood, Mill Creek and Woodinville – Great all around trainers, classes for obedience, Agility and reactive dogs.


Kerri @ PetSMART in Lynnwood

General obedience and tricks (great for puppies!)

Nitro K9

(http://nitrocanine.com) – Edmonds and most of King County – Lots of packages and classes, check our their site for more information. Lots of options with them.

One Command K9

(http://onecommandk9.com) – Lacey, WA (not sure if he travels). Specializes in general obedience

PacWest K9

(http://pacwestk9.com) – Tacoma, WA – Gina comes highly recommended with several other members of the group who use her. She does obedience and several dog sports.

Puppy Perfectors

(http://www.puppyperfectors.com/) – Seattle, WA – Comes highly recommended for puppy obedience and beginning agility classes.

Riverdog Canine Coach

(https://www.facebook.com/riverdogcaninecoaching/) Issaquah, WA – Great for general obedience as well as dog sports. They are one of the better options out there for puppy classes as well.

Sparks K9

(http://www.sparksk9.com/)  Monroe, WA – A great resource for both puppies and adults alike! They have specialized classes for reactive dogs as well.

Take the Lead

(http://taketheleaddogtraining.com) – King County – Specializes in Reactive dogs, great for general obedience as well.

Western Oregon

Show recommendations in Western Oregon
Listed alphabetically

Pet Village Ltd

(http://www.petvillageltd.com/training) – Salem, OR. Salem, Oregon – Jennifer is a great trainer and is very active in schutzhund/IPO sports. She has a Schutzhund club and she earned her international judges license to judge working dogs in 2007. She is known to be the youngest to achieve that honor in U.S.

Online Video courses

Show online video recommendations
If you’ve trained a dog in obedience before or are on a tight budget, online video courses can be a great option. While you can learn the basic skills of dog training, what’s missing compared to working with a trainer in person is the feedback on how YOU are doing. Does your body language match your commands? Are you getting frustrated and raising your voice? For this reason, online videos are best as supplemental resources. If you haven’t worked with a trainer for an extended period before, it’s better to start in person first.


(http://leerburg.com) Leerburg is a collection of training material from a large number of trainers. Not all of them are created equal, unfortunately. Stick to material from Ed Frawley and Michael Ellis.


(http://MikeRitland.com) Mike Ritland, the author of Team Dog, SEAL Dogs and a few other books, has started a new training site like Leerburg. It’s relatively new, launched October of 2016, however based on Mike’s other materials we can assume it is a good starting point.