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How to Become a Professional Dog Trainer

Updated on May 9, 2012
My dream of becoming a dog trainer came true in 2008.
My dream of becoming a dog trainer came true in 2008. | Source

Do you want to be A dog trainer or THE dog trainer per excellence?

You love dogs and you are addicted to Victoria Stillwell's shows. You have trained your own dogs to be very obedient and you have offered many tips to your other dog owner friends. You exhibit quite a collection of dog training books. Your ultimate goal is to become a dog trainer. But where to start?

In reality, anybody can become a dog trainer. All it takes is to print out some business , leave them at vet offices, boarding and grooming facilities and clients will shortly follow. However, there are enormous differences between a novice trainer that has little experience on hand and a knowledgeable trainer that has had hands on experience and lots of tips to share.

If you really want to become a great dog trainer, the latter is the way to go. Take short cuts, and your reputation will quickly go down the dumps as people will quickly realize you do not have much to offer. Instead, serious business starts off by looking into learning as much as possible and absorbing other techniques from other professional trainers that have been in business for quite some time. Here are some helpful tips if you are really serious about dog training:

-Learn as much as you can

Read the latest books on dog training. Watch videos, DVD's about dog behavior and how to deal with behavior problems. Learn about diverse training techniques and decide where you will stand. Absorb as much info as you can and learn from the experts. Knowledge is power and there is no other way to learn.

-Decide your specialization

There is so much more than dog trainers. There are dog agility trainers, hunting dog trainers, puppy kindergarten trainers, basic obedience trainers and much more. Find what interests you the most. The more you love your job the better the outcome of your career.

-Look for mentors

Ask trainers around if you can attend their training sessions in exchange for help cleaning kennels or volunteer for a shelter and ask if you can help out the dog trainers dealing with obedience issues. In one way or the other, as with most jobs you may start from the lower end of the ladder, however, simply think that with some time you will find yourself at the top.

-Learn people skills

You will mostly work with dog owners, explaining how they must properly train their dogs. You must develop good social skills when interacting with the public. Learn how to explain with clarity without using too much lingo. Patience, good manners and the ability to communicate well are essential for dog trainers. Remember that you will train the owners more than the dog.

-Learn Body language

Dog training is more than just teaching a dog to sit and come when called. A dog trainer must learn to read dogs like a book. They must be able to interpret the dog's body language in order to prevent unwanted behaviors from taking place. Anticipating a behavior is key to preventing it from happening. It may take less than 3 seconds for an aggressive dog to snap, learning what precedes that state of mind is fundamental.

-Get Certified

Once you have had some good hands on approaches it is time to get a degree. There are various ways to get certified, most need enough proof of hands on experience. The most common programs are developed by special organizations of private dog training schools. Some large retail pet stores offer programs and some online study courses do as well. However,it is up to you how far you want to go with your career. Simply think what kind of dog trainer you would want to train your dog, very likely it will be the very best possible!

Here are some references:

The Basic Trainer Skills Exam of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)

The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)

The Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT)


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