Do you just love spending time with your dog? Are you thoughtful, compassionate and love to help others too?

Dog training is one job you might excel at. But how to become a dog trainer? While hobby level training can go a long way in your own home, becoming a professional trainer is quite a different thing. Today we look at how to become a dog trainer and what kind of accreditation will make it official.

How to Become a Dog Trainer

To become a dog trainer, it’s best to make sure you have the drive to actually follow through. Take a look at our steps below to see if dog training would be a good fit for you.

Start Learning

The best way to become a dog trainer is just to dig into as much information as possible. Try to read as much as you can about animal training. Check out videos or magazines on the topic and learn about the different approaches to training animals.

You should also learn about dog body language. While training a dog, it will be critical that you can read how the animal is feeling, so a good knowledge of body language will help.

If you’re not sure where to start with dog training, your local library is probably a great place. They’re likely to have books or videos on the topic. Some popular books on dog training include:

  • Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide, by Brenda Aloff.
  • Don’t Shoot the Dog, by Karen Pryor
  • The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell
  • Complete Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training, by Pamela Dennison

These books are a great place to begin your dog training journey. Of course, after reading, you have to start practicing.

Give It A Try

The best place to start practicing is at home. Your own dog is the perfect volunteer. You already have a great relationship with your own dog and they trust you. This makes them the best choice when you just start off on your training adventure.

Once you get your feet under you and you have an idea of how to train a dog, you can start seeking an apprenticeship or actual work.

Depending on where you live and what’s in your area, you might have to take what you can get. But seek out training academies or schools. See if you can volunteer time at an obedience school. One of the best things about this is you then gain access to other trainers.

Another wonderful resource is other trainers. Most are very willing to talk about their training philosophies and actual tips when working with dogs. Of course, you both have an interest in training animals, so a professional relationship can easily form.

Go to School

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, you can turn to actually train yourself. There are numerous schools out there for you to attend and gain accreditation. Many schools exist and there are even online-only courses you can take.

One important point when you are vetting schools is to make sure they line up with your own training philosophy. For the most part, most schools are humane and use positive reinforcement, but there are some schools that are quite the opposite. Be sure you get a good feel for the school you select.

More Practice

Once you’ve gotten some professional training, it’s time to see what you can do. You should begin looking for work as a trainer. You can look at dog training facilities in your area, but you can also be your own boss. Offer your training services at your local job posting board. There are often job boards at libraries, colleges, or places of worship. Getting your name out there will help you get known in the industry and in your locality.

Get Credentialed

Once you have trained yourself and gotten some work under your belt, you should consider getting a certification. There is no government regulation when it comes to dog training in the US, but there are many certifying bodies that exist. One common certification is the Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assisted Certification (CPDT-KA). This certification is not easy, but achieving it can go a long way in showing potential clients just how serious you are.

Next Steps

Once you’ve done some training and become certified, really the sky’s the limit. You can choose to start your own dog training business. If that’s not something that interests you, you can simply train at an existing training facility.

You can even choose to write, podcast, or blog about your experiences training dogs.

Once you become certified, you can take your knowledge in any direction you choose. Just remember that the journey begins with a very easy step. Check out your local library for some information to see if becoming a dog trainer is right for you.


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