Dog training is an extremely rewarding career. If you asked different trainers how they got into this career, you would not get the same answer; people get into this business for all different reasons, from love of animals or dogs in particular, to having a sound understanding of dogs and some just honestly want to help others. One should remember first of all that, for the most part, training is a “service” occupation and that one is usually working with people who happen to have dogs. In other words, you are working with animals but you are primarily working with people. One could say that you have to train the person first, before you can train the dog! Today’s dog trainer needs to develop proficiency in canine behavior, human psychology, business management and professional development.
In order to be able to do that, one will have to go to school to get the certification to be a trainer. There are many places that offer the courses, all across the States and Canada and even overseas, and a lot of them have great reputations. You will want to do your homework and research on each one before deciding which school to try for. You will also want to make sure that you pick one that will most suit your needs in achieving your goal. Do not forget that there are also many different areas that you can offer training in, from regular dog training for the home and neighborhood, to training Seeing Eye dogs for the blind, search and rescue, cancer detection and training to use dogs as part of pet therapy for different people such as kids, seniors and the severely ill.
In general, those individuals employed as dog trainers are largely “self educated”. This means they have read extensively on behavior modification and dog ethnology, attended seminars, workshops and conventions, and perhaps mentored with other trainers. There are some “dog training schools” out there. A good school should cover the basics for training which are: The history of dog training, since it began in the late 19th century, which will also compare it to other animal training, Animal learning which deals with positive and negative reinforcement, punishment, habituation, sensitization and desensitization and the comparison of human learning to dog learning, Dog behavior and everything associated with that, Designing classes which is how to design your courses and instruction materials and deals with counseling people and motivating them and of course Business management, how to operate your business properly and successfully. Your training of a dog should also last more than just a few days, because it can take weeks before your training takes affect, and you or the owners start to see some results.
Another way to gain experience is to apprentice yourself with someone who is a Dog trainer, someone who can show you the hows and the whys and who can give you some on hand learning. You can also volunteer at shelters and places like that to get the idea of different breeds and personalities. Joining online groups with similar goals and interests can also give you some very valuable information that you can use when the time comes. One never stops learning so to speak, doesn’t matter what your profession is. It is how one can stay one step ahead of the others. Once you are ready to work, there are many places to be employed whether it be for yourself or for a pet store or vet, there are many different possibilities to work, not just as a Dog Trainer, but perhaps as a Dog Behaviorist or a Researcher. This all may sound very daunting at first, but if you are serious about becoming a dog trainer then you will have to do your research on it, and be very dedicated when it comes to learning and not to get frustrated if the learning seems slow or if you get hired to work with a difficult dog. Most of it comes by learning and experience alone and the more you have of that, the more successful you can and will become. There is even a strong dedication to licensing Dog Trainers in the future, making the job more credible and sound, which is great news for everyone, because it ensures safe and sound methods are being used and prevents people from becoming one who have no real interest in the job itself, and is using it just to make an income.