If you are interested in becoming a certified dog trainer, you’ll want to understand the basic skills required for this job and how you can learn them. Dog trainers work with a variety of different breeds, ages, and sizes. You need to be ready to take on anything that gets thrown your way.
One of the primary focuses of dog training is obedience. Dog owners turn to obedience specialists every day to help them with a troubled pup who won’t seem to listen.
Most professional dog trainers possess patience, consistency, and formal education in some form of dog training or hands-on experience to match.
As someone who grew up in a household with a dog training business in the basement, I know all too well the daily triumphs and struggles of a dog trainer, so I want to help you with all the techniques and tricks I’ve learned over the years.
Let’s dive right into it!
How to Become a Dog Trainer
As you step foot into your journey toward becoming a good dog trainer, here are some of the steps you can take to learn animal behavior along the way.
Start Training Your Own Dog
Why not start in your own home? If you have a dog, start training them to get a little experience. You can start to train dogs when they’re as young as eight weeks old, and you can learn how they respond to certain training techniques and commands.
Train Alongside Other Dogs
Once you’ve developed the basic commands, you can expand and try training other dogs. Consider finding dogs in your neighborhood or friend and family groups to see if they could use help. Socializing your dog with other dogs is also a great way to understand how they interact.
When the dogs learn how to calmly approach each other, you can walk them together on the training leashes. Dogs do best learning how to socialize with other dogs in stages.
If you find someone willing to let you train their dog, this is a great experience, so be sure to do a great job and use them as a reference in the future. Take everything you’ve learned so far and apply it.
Once you’ve received a little on-the-job training, you might be ready to get serious about becoming a dog trainer. There are a number of great dog trainer programs through various career organizations.
Having the experience from training your own dog and a few others will help put you ahead of the competition in training programs, and you’ll have a better chance of doing well and having success after graduation.
While you’re doing this, be sure to volunteer at a local shelter and continue working with any dogs you can find.
Educate People to Train Their Dogs
My mother, who ran the dog training business in our basement, always told me that the business of training dogs is actually a lot more about training people.
If a pet parent wants to know how to crate train a puppy at night, you need to first teach the owner what to do before they can train their pup. Makes sense, right?
I also recommend teaching owners what not to do. I don’t recommend shock collarsfor trying to keep dogs inside of certain areas, but some pet parents might still use these types of techniques as they also come in in a more humane version now!
Having great people skills will help you teach your clients and show them that only so much of the work can happen under your care. The rest of it has to happen in the home between them and their pooch.
How to Become a Dog Trainer
If you’re ready to take a deep dive and become a professional dog trainer, you’re in luck. Dog trainer salaries are increasing, and more and more people are looking to hire professional trainers for private lessons.
Here are some steps you’ll want to take:
Join a Professional Organization
Support and networking is key when starting this career because dog trainers often work independently. Joining The Association of Professional Dog Trainers can help you meet other dog trainers and make important connections in the industry.
Additionally, as a member of this type of professional organization, you will have access to different dog training courses and information to keep you up to speed in modern-day dog training.
Learn the Latest Research and Techniques
Study, study, study. Learn what training methods, techniques, and technology are coming out to make the job of a dog trainer easier. By staying up to date on the latest and greatest, you’ll better equip yourself to be an in-demand trainer in your area.
Start Working With a Certified Professional Organization
A great way to qualify yourself is by working with a certified professional organization like the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).
This organization provides you with the hands-on training you need to work in an animal shelter, vets office, humane society, or rescue group. I’ve even seen people use this type of training to start their own breeding business.
Important Skills and Tips for Dog Trainers
Here are some practical skills you’ll want to possess to become the best trainer you can be.
Strong Understanding of Dog Behavior
As a successful trainer, you should have a strong understanding of animal behavior. You need to be able to read how the dog is feeling based on their eye shape, tail position, and stance. By paying attention to their body language, you’ll learn what steps you need to take to correct them.
You can start by learning how to train a puppy not to bite when they’re only a few months old. If you have a puppy that’s biting, this is a great place to start and a common issue that a lot of dog owners encounter with their puppies.
Experience and Expertise in Dog Training Skills
Getting experience training dogs is a great way to learn more about becoming a trainer. You’ll have to complete around 300 hours of dog training within a three-year period and pass an exam to become certified as a trainer.
Not only will this provide you with the necessary education, but the experience you get along the way will prepare you for what’s to come when you enter the field.
Excellent Communication Skills
As a trainer, you’ll want to not only be able to communicate with the dogs but the owners as well. When training dogs, verbal communication in the form of tone will mean a lot. Dogs might not understand what you’re saying, but your tone says it all.
Calm and Confident Personality
When training dogs, it is important to remain calm and confident. Maintaining a calm disposition and confidently giving commands will help dogs learn. Additionally, remember the common thing I preach to you. Consistency is the name of the game, and you need to pick a strategy and approach it the same way each time.
It’s important that you remain patient throughout the process. This is important for both training dogs and for your career as a trainer. Patience shows your clients that you possess the necessary skills to train their dogs properly without becoming overwhelmed or angry with their furry friends.
Job Duties of a Trainer
There are certain job duties of a trainer that are a part of a trainer’s responsibilities. A trainer should follow these job duties to create a well-behaved dog
To create a training plan, you must first start with some general information and define the behavior that you want the dog to learn. Create some short-term and long-term goals and make a plan on how to get to those goals. Ensure that the dog has a supportive environment and develop a reward system for the dog when he learns a new behavior or skill.
Teaching commands is one of the most common reasons that dogs need training. Teaching common commands such as sit, stay, heel, roll over or teaching how to potty train a puppy sets the dog up for success. Rewarding and praising animal behavior when learning the command is important so the dog knows that he did a good job.
One of the most significant aspects of training is that you also need to teach the owners in your dog training classes. While you are also teaching their canine companion, you are teaching the owners how to demonstrate these strategies and imply them to their dog. You must remain patient with the owners as well as the dog to achieve success.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Dog Trainer?
Completing a dog training school can take several weeks to months. It depends on how quickly you are aiming to become a successful trainer.
What Is the Salary of Dog Trainers?
The average salary for a professional trainer in the United States is $17.26 per hour, but this will vary dramatically based on your location. Keep in mind that you can start your own business and make much more compared to most dog trainers that work for other companies.
Name Some Professional Dog Training Organizations in the Us.
The APDT, CCPDT, and IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals) are some of the best dog training organizations in the United States.
Getting licensed by these organizations will cost between $300 and $500, depending on the state. Getting a professional dog training certification that is the equivalent of a degree can cost up to $5,000 depending on the education platform.
Not only is dog training a growing career, but it’s also a rewarding one. If you’re a dog lover and own dogs like me, you’ll find constant joy in the little moments of triumph when that stubborn pup finally catches on and starts listening to their owner.
Whether it’s the gracious thank you’s from parents or the slobbery kisses, you’ll thank the stars every day that you took that initial first step. With a little hard work and a lot of patience, you can become a successful dog trainer that changes lives.
Never stop learning, work hard every day, and enjoy the little things. Good luck!