With the popularity of television dog training shows such as Victoria Stilwell's "It's Me or the Dog" and Cesar Milan's "The Dog Whisperer," it's no wonder that some dog lovers want to become dog trainers. Also, because these shows are making owners more aware of obedience and training, there's a greater demand for dog trainers. Certified trainers can go on to work with service and police dog training, as well as dog shows.
Besides enjoying a rewarding career, dog trainers have the bonus of owning their own business and making money, using a lifetime hobby as a profession. Although you can train dogs without certification, to be successful potential dog trainers need to first be trained and certified. Dog trainer graduates can find work in animal shelters, kennels and pet stores, but pay is usually low compared to opening your own business. By earning certification, dog trainers can attract more customers, making more money and setting their own fees.
To become a certified dog trainer, you must first attend a dog trainer's school which teaches methods in basic dog training. A good school should include studies in dog anatomy, diseases, communication, as well as dog psychology and behavior. Animal Behavior College (ABC) offers schools for certification in dog training in every state. For information call (800) 795-33294.
Before signing up for a dog training school, do your homework. Ask various questions about techniques that are taught and what's included in the curriculum. A good dog training school should include business management education in setting up a dog training business. Also, look for schools that include a wide range of canine psychology and behavior, as well as teach how to create dog training courses for clients.
The purpose of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) is to provide dog trainers a way to be heard in the dog world as well as ensure standards in dog training certification. For certification in dog training, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) requires that an APDT trainer hold at least one approved certification from their list (see Resources) of approved designations. Once a year, the APDT reviews approved certifications, adding or deleting designations are needed.
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is probably the best national organization offering dog trainer certification, becuase it is unique in providing standardized certification. Candidates need at least 300 hours in dog training experience (within the last five years), besides high school graduation or a GED equivalent. Also needed are references from a vet, professional colleague and a client. The CCPDT exam is only given twice a year.
As with most professions, continuing education is important. Besides getting certified, dog trainers need to keep up their credentials by taking advantage of conferences, workshops and seminars where they get hand-on experience from other professional dog trainers.
Be cautious of online training and dog certification. Even though you may receive certification, it may not be respected by many dog owners because of the lack of on-hands experience.
Some people who work with animals tend to more animal-oriented than people-oriented. However, as a dog trainer you'll need to have good people skills as you'll be working with people as much as animals.
- Anke Van Wyk