We're based in Cheltenham Call us 07554 427 857

Dog training in Cheltenham – Choosing a trainer

Published on 21st September 2015

Looking for dog training in Cheltenham?

Welcome to our blog post; dog training in Cheltenham – choosing a trainer. Hopefully you will find this both supportive and informative and how to choose a trusted dog trainer.

So you’ve found companionship in your best friend but now have a few teething problems

He or she may be pulling on the lead, not coming back when called or even showing signs of aggression around other dogs. You’ve read every training tip online only to be left more confused than when you’ve started! Sounds like you and your dog?

Don’t worry, there is help at hand when you are looking for dog training in Cheltenham. You have three main options: one-to-one dog training, behavioural consultation pet behaviourist, or group training in a suitable environment. First let’s look at the issue you are having – it could be a behavioural issue or a training issue or even an overlap of the two, confused? Read below to find out more.

Do I need a dog trainer or behaviour specialist?

It can sometimes be confusing to know if it is a behavioural or training issue that you require help with; so we’ve highlighted some recent behaviours and training in which we’ve worked with a variety of dogs to minimise or modify. Training issues can be overcome in a few sessions, whilst behavioural issues are often more complex – this means we will look at all the possible factors contributing to the issue and the history surrounding it.

Reward based training with Cheeky

Common behavioural issues: separation anxiety, spraying, fear aggression, food possession.

Dog training with Social Paws: recall, heal work, jumping up.

An overlap of behavioural issues and dog training: puppy biting, chewing, jumping up, barking on lead.

Qualifications and experience

So you now have a basic understanding of the difference of what is a dog behaviour issue or dog training issue and have decided that you would like to search for a trusted dog trainer. The first thing We’d advise looking at, before choosing a dog trainer, is relevant qualifications and experience.


Do they have any formal qualifications? We recommend that you choose someone who has been educated at a university level and attended recent courses, seminars or examinations approved or run by the Pet professional Guild (PPG), Institute of modern dog trainers (IMDT), The Association of pet dog trainers (APDT), The Association of pet behavioural councillors (APBC) and Animal behaviour and training council (ABTC).
Manager of Social Paws, Helen Eade, regularly attends courses and seminars and has a Bachelor of Science honours degree in animal behaviour and welfare. Her philosophy is that learning is ongoing and is keen to keep up to date with new training methods and scientific research.


So you’ve found a dog trainer, but realise that they can not put what they’ve learnt into practice; they have all this knowledge, but haven’t handled many dogs. Here at Social Paws, we think it’s important to have a balance of both hands on experience (with a range of dog breeds, ages and temperaments), plus the qualifications to understand the theories and principles that underly the practical training.
Helen Eade has over 18 years of hands on practical experience, with a range of dogs (many of which were aggressive or fearful). As previous head of quarantine and behavioural assessments at the Cheltenham Animal Shelter she underwent years of practical in house training, including dangerous dog training. Helen has also volunteered at other dog related businesses and rescues and has always been passionate about animals.

Force free methods

Happy Senna

We only use force free training methods at Social Paws

When looking for a dog trainer always ask what methods of training they use. If any methods involve physical punishment, shock collars or any other unethical training aids – we recommend that you avoid. These methods may seem to give quick results but, in the long term, will only make the issue worse (and also scare and intimidate your best friend).

Reward based training

Ask about reward based training. If no rewards are used – how is your dog going to be motivated? Here at Social Paws we use a variety of force free techniques and reward based training. We find out what makes your dog tick and what he or she is willing to work for. The only forms of punishment we use are ‘timeouts’ or removal of ourselves from the situation for inappropriate behaviour (for example leaving the room).

Training by fear

When looking for a dog trainer, look for someone who refers to themselves as a respected teacher who can guide your dog and support you with ongoing training. Be wary of trainers who talk about methods of making your dog submissive, or referring to themselves as the ‘dominant pack leader’. These theories are not only outdated but often rely on forceful methods.

Word of mouth

Want a second opinion? Do your background research – ask your friends – if they’ve never heard of the trainer you are looking to use I would exercise caution. Also look at their testimonials, get in contact with previous clients, ask them how they felt about them and what methods they used.

People skills


Helen has exceptional people skills and helps organise events in Cheltenham

So you’ve found what you think to be the perfect dog trainer; they are great at training your dog and getting the results you need! However, they are unable to transfer these skills to you and, not only that, they are unable to sympathise to you and your dogs needs.
We recommend you look for a dog trainer who has experience with both animals and people – they can relate to the experience you are going through and can explain things to you through non-jargon language. Most of all, they are patient and caring. Helen takes time to get to know the person and their dog, she has years of experience in support work and as a part-time events organiser.

The next step

Finding the right dog trainer suited to the needs of your dog (and you) can take time and careful research. Once you’ve found a trainer, don’t expect a magic wand to take all of the training issues away. Training involves not only support from the trainer but also commitment on your part. It’s like going to the gym – if you don’t practice the exercises you’ve been taught, how can you expect them to work in the long-term? However you should start seeing a significant improvement in yours dogs behaviour in the first few sessions, if you are getting ongoing support or are following a training plan.
Here at Social Paws, we have several training packages – from basic to more advanced. If you wish to speak to Helen about your dog’s behaviour, or a training issue, she offers a free initial consultation. She will also ask you to fill out an initial form, so she can get an understanding of the factors that may be contributing to the issue and about your dog’s temperament. If you are looking for group training/classes, you will find more details below.
Helen is keen to support and network with other trainers and behaviour specialists in Cheltenham and is thankful for all the support they have given her over the past months. Helen’s specialist area is dog behavioural issues, working with nervous dogs.

Contact Helen for help and support here: helen@socialpawscheltenham.co.uk

Useful links

One-to-one behavioural consultation/support:

One-to-one training walks and training session:

Group classes/training:

The Pet Professional Guild, The Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals:

Institute of modern dog trainers (IMDT):

The Cheltenham Animal Shelter: