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How to Become a Dog Trainer


Do you have a desire to train dogs? Maybe you previously trained one of your dogs and loved it. Maybe all dogs seem to love you. A lot of folks like the thought of dog training. Some decide to train them for a nice hobby, and some choose to do it as a paid job. It doesn’t matter which way you go, you have to know the steps to be a dog trainer.


Role of the Dog Trainer

A dog trainer works with dog owners and their pets. These folks teach your dog things like basic obedience, manners, and even a few fun tricks. Some of them specialize in working with problem dogs. A large percentage of training dogs includes teaching their owners ways to work with their dogs and manage their behavior and training. They also may teach a class on obedience commands or come to your house to train your dog.


Devote Some Time To Being With Dogs

A great way to find out more about the way dogs behave is to devote some time to be with them. There are many ways a person can get some hands-on familiarity with dogs. You can:

  • Do some volunteer work at the dog pound
  • Work at a veterinarian’s office
  • Contact dog breed clubs in your area
  • Bring your dog to an obedience course or a dog club

If you choose to volunteer at the dog pound or work with a veterinarian, you’ll get a chance to be around several dog breeds with dogs of all sizes and lots of different temperaments. Maybe there will even be a real dog trainer or an animal behaviorist there that you can learn from.


Be an Apprentice or Take Classes

Once you are ready to begin learning all the dog training procedures, it is a great suggestion to become an apprentice by working with a dog trainer. You can also take a course in how to train a dog. All you have to do is find out if there are any dog trainers in your area that are looking for an apprentice.

There’s several places that provide dog behavior and training courses. A few community colleges provide them via their adult education courses. Some places also have created dog training classes on their own. There are even online classes and a few have classes where you have to go in person for several weeks. Since there’s no accreditation needed for a dog training school, be sure you do the proper research before you choose one to attend. Be sure the instructors as well as the school or the business sponsoring the classes all have good reputations.

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Join a Group

You can find out what educational opportunities exist for a dog trainer by joining a professional group. One such group is the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. These many times will offer or host a seminar, a workshop, a conference or some other type of opportunity where you can learn more about training dogs. You can also find dog trainers who will work with you there.



Get a Degree

You don’t need a degree to be a dog trainer, but you could start your career by being an animal behaviorist if you are interested in dog behavior. The Animal Behavior Associates, Inc., says that you can get certified as an applied animal behaviorist if you get a master’s degree or get a Ph.D. in the area of behavioral science after taking classes in animal learning, behavior and ethology. Or you can get a DVM along with advanced training in animal behavior in order to be certified as an animal behaviorist.


Certification for Dog Trainers

Currently, there is no certification required to train dogs. But if you want to do it anyway, the way to go is via the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, which offers such certification as well as additional continuing education. To get a certification, a dog trainer has to have recommendations, have worked as a dog trainer for a specific amount of time, and then pass a test that has 250 questions so they can prove what they know about dog behavior and dog training. There’s a handbook you can get from the CCPDT to study for the test. Even if you don’t want to take the tests, the handbook is a great tool for seeing the type of information dog trainers ought to know.


Learn All About the Industry

If you think dog training is a lot more than a mere hobby in your life, and you’d love to do it as your career, it will help if you have business experience. When working with customers, you are surely going to need to know a lot about customer service as well as how to train dogs. Plus it’s vital to learn about how to start and run a small business as a dog trainer.


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