Many pet owners do not know how to approach obedience training when they bring new dogs into their households. Early training is key to molding a responsive pet, and pet owners have increasingly turned to dog trainers to help their precious pooches adapt to their new homes.
The Humane Society of the United States says no federal or state certification is required for a person to call himself a dog trainer. Finding a qualified professional can be challenging, and some pet owners have even learned the ropes of dog training on their own to ensure the process goes smoothly. Those interested in a career in dog training should consider the following.
Though certification is not required, schooling can be a considerable help for men and women who want to be dog trainers. Schools may issue certificates for completing training courses, and those who desire a national certification can contact the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
Schools may or may not be run by trainers certified by CCPDT, and many trainers are self-educated or have learned their trade after working in apprentice-type roles under other trainers. When looking for a program, learn which methods you will be taught and avoid teachers who claim expertise simply from living with dogs, as even a cursory education in animal behavior can make you a better trainer.
One way to hone your skills with regard to handling dogs is to volunteer at a local shelter or animal hospital. This allows you to gain some experience working with and handling unfamiliar dogs. You'll get a first-hand view of the different breeds and can speak with employees about character and personality traits that help set certain breeds apart from others. In addition, you can observe animal behavior and figure out which tactics are most likely to be successful with given breeds. Some shelters employ behavioral analysts to assess and animal's fitness for adoption. If possible, speak with these analysts about their education and background and ask for recommendations as to where to start your own training.
Sign up for training classes
After researching the qualified instructors in your area, choose one and sit in on a class. See the type of time commitment and requirements necessary to be a successful trainer. At this point, you may want to ask the trainer if he or she is willing to take on an apprentice. An apprenticeship can last from six months to a year and is an excellent way gain hands-on experience training dogs.
Join an association
Networking can help you further your education and put you in touch with other professionals who can be excellent resources. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers is the largest professional association of dog trainers in the world, and membership offers many benefits, including informative seminars on dog training/behavior, a bimonthly newsletter, email newsletters where trainers share training tips and information, and numerous opportunities to network with fellow professionals.
Find a job
Dog trainers may be self-employed or work with established organizations that already has a staff of trainers. You may want to begin by working for such an organization before you feel comfortable enough to branch out on your own as you gain experience and clientele. Pet stores, veterinarians, shelters, and groomers sometimes contract with dog trainers as well. Advertising your services with these other businesses can be good for your career.
Becoming a dog trainer can be a rewarding venture and a lucrative employment opportunity.