How to Become a Dog Trainer

To become a dog trainer you will need to get experience with many types of dogs and decide whether or not to pursue dog trainer certification or attend a dog trainer school.


With a modest experience around dogs and usually possessing a high school diploma, almost any person can call themselves a "dog trainer". However, to become listed on a professional association website, such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, so you have credibility with owners and veterinaries as a suitable dog trainer, you should consider pursuing certification.

There are many different types of programs, some operating at the state level, some national and some international. One example is the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, which is attained after three hundred hours of experience and the successful completion of an examination.

In addition, some trainers will have undergraduate or associate degrees in education or in animal behavior, and will apply the knowledge that they learned in school to dog training. This background will give them an advantage over beginning dog trainers with no background or experience in training and behavior modification.

Advice for Becoming a Dog Trainer

It isn't enough to watch television programs about celebrity dog trainers: you need to have some experience with dogs. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or with an animal rescue as a dog walker and look for opportunities to assist their dog trainers with behavior modification programs. You will want to ask them about common problems that owners come to trainers about, such as aggression or general bad dog manners, so you can get experience on how to handle these issues.

You will also want to get some experience with the different forms of dog training so you can decide which one is best suited to you as a trainer. Once you have this knowledge, it will be easier for you to select a program or dog training certificate program that uses those methods.

You may also wish to purchase or adopt your own dog and begin training your own dog. This last step should only be taken after you have volunteered at an animal shelter and when you have committed yourself to becoming a dog trainer, since taking on the responsibility for a dog, as most owners and trainers know, is a hefty commitment of time and money.

Dog Training Jobs

A general dog trainer will work with animals on obedience commands, such as puppy kindergarten, socialization, adult canine obedience and general canine "good citizenship". In addition to teaching basic obedience, dog trainers may also specialize in dealing with aggressive dogs, or dogs with other behavior problems, such as car or biking chasing, or overcoming issues related to different human companions, such as shyness or aggression toward children.

Other dog trainers will train dogs to act as protection or service dogs, though this requires special training or experience. Some dog trainers who train protection dogs will have worked in K-9 policing or have trained Schutzhund (protection dog). Animal trainers who train service dogs will have many years of experience working in animal training and studying the tasks that a service dog will need to accomplish for their owner.

Many people are willing to spend a great deal of money on the happiness and security of their dogs, and dog trainers are one of the services that they are willing to pay for to keep their pet and their family safe.