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How does one become a "Dog Trainer"

September 3rd, 2004, 11:54 AM
I went to "Puppy School" the other night with my aunt, who is working on her adorable new 10 month old Jack Russell Terrier.

My aunt kept saying to me, "You could do this! I've seen you work with dogs and I know you would be good at it!"

I have to admit, I had a blast there. Although there were different nuances between how I've trained my dogs... different hand signals etc., I got to thinking how much I'd enjoy doing something like that.

So, as a question to you experts out there, what are the steps to take in becoming a "dog trainer"?

heeler's rock!
September 3rd, 2004, 03:46 PM
Good for you Babs! In Canada, you don't have to be certified to be a dog trainer. There aren't even that many places that offer a good, comprehensive course. Almost any jo schmo off the street can become one if they want. I am a dog trainer, but I went to school for it. I learned from an amazing trainer named Brad Pattison of He doesn't use treats, clickers, or any other "masking" techniques. A good trainer is one who can gain the dog's respect without bribing (sp?) it. It's like you giving your kids $5.00 everytime they do their homework. What happens when you want them to do it for free? I wouldn't recommend on-line or distance education courses. Also, do not fall for the ones done through Petcetera and stuff. If you want more info. on Brad or Yuppy Puppy, let me know! There were 5 of us that took his course, and it has been awesome!!! :D

September 3rd, 2004, 08:08 PM
Hi there! This question was asked at least once before (that I know of). I too was kicking around the idea of becoming a trainer once the kids are a little older and in school full-time. Lucky Rescue pasted some advice from another thread (I think the original author was CanadianK9Info??), and I thought it was excellent advice, so I'm re-posting here (hope that's OK, Lucky!). Good luck in your pursuit! :D

"The best way to become a qualified trainer is to get a dog and train it, go to dog shows and title it in obedience, tracking, agility etc. Title your dogs all the way (not just beginner level titles I mean advanced). I really feel that if you don't compete in obedience you have no business running classes. Title your dogs then ask a qualified trainer (another competitor) if you can audit their classes to learn more, work with shelter dogs to gain experience. Join professional organizations such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers , go to seminars by trainers like Terri Arnold , Connie Cleveland..... it takes years to become qualified, please do not put the public at risk by giving out unqualified advice.

I forgot to mention earlier. You should also be reading a ton of books. Pick up books by authors like Terri Arnold (you can get her books on her website they are called Steppin Up to Sucess), Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor (Don't Shoot the Dog), Jean Donaldson (she is a trainer in Montreal... has written some great books including The Culture Clash etc.), Joni Andersen (The Latchkey Dog). Read everything you can get your hands on."

September 3rd, 2004, 08:30 PM
Tx for the link Heeler I'll be sure to take a peek at it.

heeler's rock!
September 3rd, 2004, 11:09 PM
After reading Luba's advise, I am wondering what type of trainer you want to be. The class I took teaches about canine language, body language, and things like that to gain respect from your dog. i don't do obedience trials or anything like that with my dog, and even other trainers in Calgary that were certified in the US don't. I think it just depends what type of trainer you want to be. I agree that you need to read a lot of books by people that know what they are talking about. A good one I read is by Dr. Karen Overall. I don't have it with me right now so I can't remember the title, but I'll post it when I find it. I agree too that it does take a long time to become qualified. I might be certified, but I am still working on my own dogs so that I can become qualified! :D

The creator of the course I took has been working with dogs for 15+ years so I trust him. Plus, I took my dog to a lot of unqualified trainers in the past and the good ones all say the same thing. That is how I know it isn't phony garbage he was feeding me. Plus, he has been a great support to all of his graduated students. I hope this helps Babs! :D

September 4th, 2004, 01:07 AM
If it were something I'd pursue, I would want to be a general obedience trainer. Nothing fancy, not for shows... but someone who helps their dogs become "good dogs". I would want to work with people and help them learn about essential pet ownership skills like housebreaking, anti-biting, the importance of socialization, ongoing training, tips on routinge care and maintenance (like making sure they know municipal licensing schedules and when they should have their dogs administered vaccines and flea/heartworm tablets).

I guess in a way, I want to train the dog owners, more than the dog... LOL!

I have been a Graphic Designer/Web Programmer for the past decade, and my career is in a slump currently. I've been thinking of a career change, but want to do something I love. When my aunt suggested it... it really got me thinking...

Any information you guys can give me will be valuable... but I live in Kitchener, Ontario... so any courses would have to be local.

September 4th, 2004, 09:37 AM
I know the U of Guelph is supposed to have a top-notch animal behaviour program. That might be a good place to start asking around.

As for showing dogs and such - sure, the titles are great, especially if you're planning on becoming a trainer - it's easier for people to belive in your ability if you have titles to show for it (just like in the work place, right? :rolleyes: ). Most students, though, get into agility and flyball for the fun of it and to have something to do with their dogs - give them jobs, so to speak. My instructors also train for and administer the Canine Good Citizen test, which I think is a great title for any dog to have. Means a lot more in everyday life! :D

I think all good trainers focus on training the owner, not the dog, regardless of their personal training methods. As for advising them on municipal licensing - I don't know how easy that will be. You could have people from 3 or 4 different municipalities in a class, all with different laws regarding licensing. And people move around a lot, so why take up their training time with info that could well be useless to them in a month or a year? IMHO, let my vet teach me about vaccinating, and let me deal with my own licensing and such. I'm here to learn how to train my dog, and I'd rather spend the full 6-8 weeks devoting my time to that, thanks! ;) But that's just my opinion...

Babs, I'm with you! I too have been contemplating a career change. I really envy people who can turn a hobby or a passion into a career. What a way to live your life!! :cool: