If you were to ask several dog owners why they’d want to become a dog trainer, everyone of them would reply with a different answer. Some want to become trainers because they need to be certain they’re raising their dogs well, and others want to have a career. Before jumping into your local college consider the different training techniques and the many books written by professionals.
Tips to become a dog trainer
I am all for ‘progressive reinforcement’ and ‘operant training’ methods. Some training techniques that you should avoid are ‘negative reinforcement’ and ‘dominant training’. Believe it or not, all training methods work and some offer quicker results than others. However, it’s the long-term results that are the most important. For example, negative and dominant training could result in more behavioral issues as a dog matures.
The last thing you want is to start training dogs to be obedient using fear, this causes dogs to become more fearful and disrespectful. Whatever technique you use, it takes time for the end result to show up so be careful in your choice of teaching methods. For example, when your training to become a dog trainer you will soon discover:
- Fear eventually begets fear
- Aggressiveness eventually begets aggressiveness
- Respect eventually begets respect
- Love eventually begets love
- Don’t Shoot The Dog! by Karen Pryor
- Excel-erated Learning by Pam Reid
- So You Want To Be A Dog Trainer by Nicole Wilde
- Train Your Dog The Positive Gentle Method by Nicole Wilde
- One on One: A Dog Trainer’s Guide to Private Training by Nicole Wilde
- It’s Not the Dogs, It’s the People! A Dog Trainer’s Guide to Training Humans
- Dog Behavior, Evolution, and Cognition (Oxford Biology) which is written by Ádám Miklósi
- How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, Revised and Updated 2nd Editon by Dr. Sophia Yin DVM MS
Should you decide to train for a qualification be selective and know the background of the school before signing up. Training schools are not very regulated so always be cautious – do your homework first. Your choices will have a reflection on your career path.
I would encourage you to ask questions at clubs, classes, apprenticeships or voluntary work.
It’s important to observe different classes to see if this type of career is for you.
You can find local classes and trainers at your vets or grooming salons. If you like what you see, you could ask if there’s any paid or unpaid work to gain experience.
Prior to the class or training compile a brief list of what you are looking for, here are some helpful tips:
- Does the trainer conduct the class with everyone?
- Does the trainer become side tracked by a particular person frequently?
- Does the trainer explain themselves clearly?
- Is the trainer helpful?
- Is there personal interaction with each attendee?
- Was the class fun or boring?
- Was the trainer in control?
- Did the dogs and owners enjoy themselves?
- What training method was used?
- Did the trainer have a good training strategy?
- Is there any supportive homework?
If you’re sure you want to become a dog trainer check out your local shelters for work. Volunteering will give you ample of opportunities to work alongside experts, an array of dogs and teaching styles.
Just one hour away from my home, lives the best breeder and trainer in my country. If you don’t mind traveling, you too could have access to the best, and you could voluntarily work alongside them. They may have apprenticeships whereby you could gain a qualification under their name; this of course is a bonus to any business!
To become a dog trainer it involves dog walking, one to one behaviorist, dog sitting, dog grooming, dog psychology and becoming an expert at understanding humans. Most trainers are self-employed and can enjoy a good income, so long as they work all its aspects of the career not just one. If you seriously want to become a dog trainer, you must also love people and dogs, if you don’t, then there is no point in seeking out this profession.
For more information on types of training techniques and schools check out: