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Becoming a Guide Dog Trainer
Training guide dogs, or any service dog, will require a commitment on your part. Guide dog trainers typically do not make much money and their jobs are anything but 9 to 5. As a guide dog trainer, you won't just be working with dogs, but with people. Some of these people will be easy to work with, but some may be difficult and challenging.
To train as a guide dog trainer, you must train at schools that train the dogs. People who need guide dogs obtain their dogs from these schools. The dog's training is intense and the amount of training required is expensive, which is why they are done through guide dog schools. If you wish to be a guide dog trainer, you will first be working as an apprentice in one of these schools and then as an instructor.
Certification as a dog trainer is a good idea as it will show the school you are serious in your chosen profession. There are many good certification programs listed on the APDT website in Resources. Most will require you to have a college degree as well as some proof of working with dogs.
Steps to Take
Contact guide dog trainings schools both in your area and in places where you're willing to live for a job as an apprentice guide dog trainer. Find a list in Resources below.
Get applications and interview for the job. You will need to apply to this like any regular job and the best candidates, that is, those who are most skilled in both dog and people skills and those whom the interviewer thinks would be the best candidates are most likely to be hired. Like any job interview, you'll need to understand everything you can about that particular school plus show them that you've done your homework by asking intelligent questions about training and apprenticeship.
Get accepted and train with the guide dog school. The guide dog school should pay you to work as an apprentice under an instructor--you're being trained to work full-time, but at the same time, you're doing work and earning money.
Graduate from guide dog training. Train dogs as an instructor for the guide dog school you trained under. The school you've chosen for your apprenticeship is most likely the school you will continue to train dogs as they will have taught you how they train their dogs. As an instructor, you will train dogs and apprentices in the guide dog school.
Keep your certifications and knowledge current by attending seminars and other classes designed to keep you up to date on the latest training techniques.
Have You Ever Considered Training a Service Dog?
Different guide schools have different requirements, so it's important to check into the requirements before applying to the apprenticeships.
For More Information
Working with dogs is inherently risky and you may get injured or bitten.
Be sure to carry business liability insurance if the company will not cover you in your apprenticeship.