A career in dog training can be very rewarding, especially if you are an animal lover. You can specialize in teaching certain breeds such as Australian Shepherds and other herding dogs. Or you can go to work at a school that trains all breeds including pound dogs.
Most trainers feel that it is easier to specialize in one aspect. Basic obedience programs are an example of a single training aspect that any owner could need.
You will find the demand for a basic obedience school higher than it is for other specialties. So, you will have more customers if you are able to provide that service.
Would a career in dog training suit you and your lifestyle?
If you are interested in more advanced aspects, you can always make that a sideline. The demand for teaching herding techniques to an Aussie might be lower, but you could be one of the trainers that really enjoy that kind of program.
Currently there are no standard requirements for people that are interested in a dog training career. Other than those that are self-employed, most dog trainers work at a school. The schools have different employment requirements.
A high school education or equivalent is a normal requirement. The school may require that you attend their educational program for trainers. You may be required to attend seminars or workshops. Apprenticing with an experienced trainer is another option.
If you are interested in teaching companions, assisted living dogs for the disabled or guide dogs for the blind, you will need to learn from someone that is already working in the field. The same is true if you wanted to train a herding breed like Aussies.
While there are some schools for trainers in the US, there are no standards for accreditation. The programs and methods used by the trainers that own the dog training schools vary. The responsibility to check out the school falls on you. There are no licenses or diplomas to look for.
You could begin a career in dog training with no education or certifications. But, you probably wouldn’t be very good at it.
A complete program would include some history of trainers from the late 19th century and the present day. Although our knowledge of how best to train an animal has changed greatly over the years, it is important to understand why most of us focus on positive reinforcement, rather than negative punishment methods. A little history lesson will help you understand.
Understanding a dog’s behavior is important for anyone interested in a dog training career. Why do they act as they do? What is the animal telling you with his stance? What behaviors are characteristic of specific breeds, in other words, which behaviors were “bred in”?
Any teacher needs to learn how best to plan or design a course of instruction. It may be helpful to take some public speaking classes, as you will be dealing with owners, as well as their pets.
You might consider volunteering at a shelter or rescue group in order to get some experience. Sometimes the best way to learn about specific breeds is to spend some time with them.
A college education is not required to have a dog training career. However, classes in veterinary sciences or behavioral psychology could be helpful.
There are a few colleges that offer programs in animal training, although the focus is not specifically on dogs. The career goal of most of their students is to work in a zoo rather than a career in dog training.
Your personality is something to consider before you make the decision to become a trainer. You will be working with dogs and their owners. You should be an effective communicator, a sympathetic listener and a compassionate handler to excel at a career in dog training.
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