How do I become a successful dog trainer? The Ultimate Guide

You have to understand dog behavior

Dog training requires knowing how to understand dog behavior and interpret dog body language. Similar to human body language, dog body language can be easily misinterpreted or simply mysterious. You may think your dog is happy when he’s “smiling” at you, but he may actually be suffering from stress or fear.

Before you train any dog, it’s important you read up on dog behavior and body language. Knowing when a dog might bite or suffer from anxiety during a session is invaluable to your dog training career.

Learn How to Succeed as a Dog Trainer

“Should I become a dog trainer?” is a common question pet owners ask themselves—and why wouldn’t it be? As a pet owner, you love your dog, you love being with dogs, and you may have even successfully taught your dog to behave without reading any books. You think to yourself, “Why work in an office when I can work with my favorite animal every day?” If you’re contemplating a career change and you’re interested in dog training, you’ve come to the right place! Below, we list what it truly takes to become a successful dog trainer.

You have to know how to market yourself

Dog training is just like any other business. In order to gain clients, you have to market yourself. Many successful dog trainers will tell you that being a dog trainer is equal parts working with dogs and working on your business. This is where some dog trainers lose hope, as they might find it difficult obtaining new clients.

“The hardest part is selling yourself,” says professional dog trainer Heidi. “Not everybody can go out there and talk to everybody and say, ‘I’m the best dog trainer in the area.’ Or if they see someone having a hard time with their dog, just walk up to them and say, ‘Hey, let me help you with that.’”

However, there are plenty of resources out there that can teach you how to market your dog training business. You can find marketing advice from books, blogs, and podcasts. A few dog trainer schools even offer marketing courses as part of their curriculum designed to help you grow your business when you graduate.

How to become a professional dog trainer? – Everything you need to know to become a dog trainer-

Interested in pursuing dog training as a career, but arent sure where to start? Heres our best advice for anyone thinking about a job in the field.

Training dogs usually means teaching people to train their own dogs, so you should be a people person. You should also love learning, be patient, and be able to work with a variety of learning styles.

At this time no federal or state certification is required to be a dog trainer, although certification is available. Contact the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers for additional information about the profession and eventual certification. Trainers who have received certification and hold the title CPDT are required to obtain continuing education credits on a regular basis in order to retain their title. AHS apprenticeship program

We coach our apprentices to have a solid foundation in using science based methods to teach owners and their dogs. Apprentices watch their mentors teach classes, take notes, and gradually assist with larger portions of class. This allows you to gradually teach classes on your own under the supervision of an experienced professional who can provide feedback and guidance throughout the process. In addition, apprentices are expected to complete readings and coursework pertaining to general learning theory and animal behavior and husbandry. Assessments will be administered to evaluate comprehension and understanding of the material, and successful progression through the program.

The Behavior and Training Apprenticeship is an unpaid position. We do charge a small fee to help cover the cost of the program. Completion of the program does not guarantee an offer of employment at Animal Humane Society. Apprentices who successfully complete the program are encouraged to apply for future openings within the department or organization.

The time commitment varies from five to twelve hours per week, depending on your availability. Apprentices are scheduled for the same shift(s) each week at the same location. *Note: Animal Humane Society is located in the Twin Cities Metro area of Minnesota.

Read books about animal behavior science, particularly the science of animal learning. Some great resources for beginners include:

Avoid authors that downplay animal behavior science and claim to have learned by living with dogs. Living with dogs doesn’t automatically provide the skills and insight necessary to safely train other people to handle their dogs. Read about the profession

Volunteer at a local shelter like Animal Humane Society to improve your dog-handling skills. Even if you have raised many dogs yourself, you will benefit from handling large numbers of unfamiliar dogs. It’s a very different experience than working with your own. Visit dog training classes

Visit local dog training classes that use science-based positive reinforcement techniques. Watch how the trainer in each class teaches and how the dogs respond. If you own a dog, consider enrolling them in classes (even if theyve had previous training). This will allow you the perspective of a student as well as a prospective trainer. Take behavior classes

After completing your apprenticeship, look for local training schools, shelters or small training businesses that are hiring trainers. Ask about their methods and training philosophy to determine whether or not their methods are consistent with your own.