Dog Obedience Training School Courses - Certified Dog Trainer Curriculum


The ABC Dog Obedience Instructor curriculum offers each student the convenience of a home study dog trainer program at a reasonable cost. In addition, students have the added benefit of working one-on-one with a professional dog trainer.

ABC's comprehensive science-based, positive-training curriculum is 11 stages long and expands over 800 pages. The first stages of the curriculum give you a strong foundation of academic and theoretical knowledge about dogs and how to teach them using positive training methods. Once a strong foundation has been established, ABC students receive authorization to observe and participate in professional dog training sessions, which are taught by ABC Mentor Trainers. The hands-on portion of your training is an important component of the curriculum, as you will have the opportunity to see professionals in action.

Study from the privacy of your own home

By choosing to enroll in ABC's program of study, you can keep your present job while you enroll in our school for dog trainers. The ABC home study portion of the program brings the classroom to your living room and neighborhood, which means no added expenses will be incurred for housing at a remote location and no time will be wasted by driving back and forth to a classroom based dog training school.

Flexible Hours

You can study around your current work or school schedule making this program a custom fit. With this flexibility, the normal completion time is 52 weeks.

Personal Program Manager
Although the first portion of the program is done in the privacy of your home, you will not be alone. An ABC Program Manager will be appointed to you upon enrollment. They will be there to guide you through the entire dog trainer program, counsel you, answer all your questions, and grade all your exams. Your personal Program Manager will contact you shortly after enrollment to get acquainted and welcome you into the program. At that time, you will be given the Program Manager's toll free number and email address for future interactions as you journey through the program. 

Curriculum Description by Stage

The maximum time allotted for each student in the ABC program is 78 weeks but students are encouraged to progress more quickly based upon their own efficiency and desire to do so.

Stage 1 - A BASIC STUDY OF CANINES - 7 Days (2.67 units)
This stage will provide you with basic knowledge about canines. It is important as a Dog Obedience Instructor to have an understanding of dog breed characteristics, developmental periods, proper socialization, basic health routines, disease prevention and canine communication. This will serve as a foundation of knowledge about normal canine behavior and ideal canine husbandry you can refer to as you counsel your clients. Having a clear understanding of normal canine behavior can help you clarify to your clients the difference between normal canine behavior occurring at inconvenient or inappropriate times and abnormal canine behavior. Being able to educate your clients on ideal canine husbandry can even help them prevent potential behavioral and health problems.

Click here for a sneak peek at Stage 1

Stage 2 -LEARNING THEORY - 14 Days (5.33 units)
This stage provides you with a strong understanding of the scientific principles of how animals learn. You will learn that animal training can be successful if it follows the basic principles of behavioral theory. This stage is designed to teach you these principles along with many specific training strategies, including classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Included in this stage are step by step instructions explaining clicker training, a popular movement involving new ways to communicate positively with pets and other animals.

Stage 3 - A TRAINER'S TOOLBOX - 7 Days (3.33 units)
This stage is designed to introduce the student to many types of dog training tools. These include; clickers, collars, leashes, housetraining aids, chewing deterrents, interactive toys, and safety equipment. Students will learn that although a key component to a successful training program is a mutually committed relationship between a dog and dog owner; training tools will often expedite the training process.

Stage 4 - TRAINING FUNDAMENTALS - 7 Days (2.00 Units) 
This stage begins by reviewing the history of dog training and the differences between obedience training, behavior modification and problem solving. This stage is packed with information that is designed to help you identify specific genetic behaviors and characteristics in dogs. This knowledge will be a valuable tool when you begin training dogs on your own.

Stage 5 - HOW TO TEACH BASIC OBEDIENCE CUES - 28 Days (10.67 Units)
In this stage you will be given written and illustrated step-by-step instruction on how to teach basic obedience cues. These instructions can help you better serve your future clients, both two legged and four legged. The obedience cues covered include sit, stay, down, come, heel, loose leash walking, leave it, and fetch. A myriad of different training techniques are included, however, the bias is toward positive motivation. This stage also includes solutions to the most common challenges that you will encounter while teaching dogs and dog owners.

This stage is designed to teach the student how to effectively treat the most common behavioral problems in dogs, e.g. housebreaking, house manners, puppy nipping, chewing, digging, jumping, excessive barking, and begging. This stage further explains how to set up a treatment plan using positive reinforcement of alternate behaviors and management. As a professional dog trainer, your clients may ask you for solutions to a wide variety of behavior problems shown by their dogs. This stage will give you a variety of solutions to offer along with the ability to convey these solutions in an effective and clear manner.

Stage 7 - SAFETY - 7 Days (2.00 units)
This stage teaches the students how to recognize the precursors of dog aggression, how to avoid it and handle such aggression. It will also discuss the indicators of stress in both dogs and owner. You will not only learn how to recognize these signs of stress but you will be taught how to address them. You will also learn how to properly introduce dogs to children and what safety precautions should be taken.  An instructor knowledgeable on how to take proper precautions will be able to conduct safe and stress free lessons with their clients. This goes a long way in creating a positive learning environment for all involved.

Stage 8 - PUBLIC SPEAKING & TEACHING GROUP CLASSES - 7 Days (2.67 units)
During the first portion of this stage you will be given information regarding public speaking and methods to use for conveying training lessons clearly and effectively to dog owners. During the second portion you will be given information on how to conduct group classes. It is important as a Dog Obedience Trainer to be able to effectively speak and motivate people. Since you are studying to become an instructor, the manner in which you speak and how you organize your instruction is crucial. This stage includes a variety of techniques used for communicating effectively to both individuals and groups, along with methods of improving basic people skills.

Stage 9 - BUSINESS BUILDING - 21 Days (8.00 units)
This stage was written by Mr. Steven Appelbaum. Mr. Appelbaum is the President of Animal Behavior College, Inc. (ABC) and was the owner and builder of the nation's largest independent dog training company, Animal Behavior & Training Associates, Inc. (ABTA) for over ten years. Mr. Appelbaum will share his journey and business building secrets, from hanging flyers up in grocery stores to procuring an exclusive agreement with Petco Animal Supplies to provide dog training services in over 500 Petco stores nationwide. Included in this stage is the step by step instruction of how to create a business plan, how to create a budget, and how to market a pet training business. Sample proposals, contracts and miscellaneous forms are also included. This stage will also provide students with the skills and information that is beneficial to work as an employee in the pet industry including resume writing, job-search skills, and interviewing techniques.

Stage 10 - SHELTER PRACTICUM & EXTERNSHIP - Up to 24 Weeks (1.33 units)
As you enter this stage of the program, you will become part of ABC’s international campaign to improve shelter dog rehabilitation and adoption. The campaign is called “Students Saving Lives” and was actualized from the personal quest of Ms. Debbie Kendrick, the Vice President of Animal Behavior College. As an ABC student, you will be asked to volunteer a minimum of 10 hours at a local animal shelter, humane society, or rescue organization of your choice. This will give you a chance to practice some of the techniques you have learned thus far and prepare you for the upcoming hands on training with your Mentor Trainer. You will be practicing your skills using basic training techniques. You will also get an opportunity to start building a relationship with the organization of your choice. This portion of the program can be rewarding for students as they are able to practice what they have learned while helping homeless dogs become better candidates for adoption.

The second portion of this stage is the student’s externship. During this portion, you will work with an ABC Mentor Trainer, observing and participating in the instruction of basic obedience cues, such as, sit, stay, come, down, heel, and loose leash walking. You will have a chance to work with individual dogs under the guidance and supervision of the Mentor Trainer. As a student, you will be applying the various training techniques just observed, as well as the ones learned in the previous stages. The Mentor Trainer will evaluate you on your teaching performance providing suggestions, guidance, and constructive critique of your skills.   Your hands on training can vary from 7 to 24 weeks in length depending on your Mentor’s training schedule.

Pet CPR and First Aid Certification
Being a professional in any animal care profession is accompanied by the responsibility of being able to react calmly and safely in the event of an emergency. Animal Behavior College’s Pet First Aid and CPR Certification will give you the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively to medical emergencies like choking, heat stroke, bleeding injuries and poisonous bites from insects and snakes. You will also learn how to artificially keep a pet’s heart and lungs working until you can seek veterinary help, along with many other vital lifesaving skills. By learning what can happen to your pet and how to respond appropriately, you may prevent many emergencies from ever happening and thereby help ensure the safety of not only your own pets, but any pets in your care.

Stage 11 - Graduation - 14 Days (5.33 Units)
Stage 11 is graduation. During this stage you will be given a final exam to measure your overall performance. Once it is passed, you will receive a diploma certifying you as a graduate from the Animal Behavior College Obedience Instructor Training Program.

The Animal Behavior College (ABC) Obedience Instructor Training Program is designed to provide its students with the knowledge to teach dog owners the skills to humanely and effectively train their own dogs. The Animal Behavior College Obedience Instructor Training Program curriculum emphasizes the understanding of canine problems as well as solutions using techniques based on decades of experience. This same experience has taught us that while it is important to understand the motivations behind a dog's behavior, obedience instructors must have a myriad of behavioral solutions at their disposal. Finally, we have endeavored to provide students with the tools that can allow them to become an effective communicator and teacher.

Short Term Programs

Given the advanced level of education, you will be unable to start our Short Term Programs until you finish the first 9 stages of our Certified Dog Trainer Program. If you opt to PRE-purchase our Short Term Programs when you enroll in the Certified Dog Trainer Program you will be purchasing the Certified Dog Trainer Package.

Training Shelter Dogs
(available for Dog Obedience Instructor program students and alumni only, or students with sufficient previous dog training education)

As an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, you may encounter dogs temporarily residing in shelters and rescues due to owner relinquishment. This devastating situation calls for immediate attention.  This program consists of 250+ pages of material authored by Teoti Anderson, former president of the APDT, with contributions from Kelly Gorman-Dunbar and numerous members of the ABC staff. The wealth of information provided discuss understanding the different kinds of shelters, how to approach them, identifying dogs for adoption and defensive handling, as well as temperament assessments, including some excellent information from the ASPCA MYM Safer Program.

Upon completion of this program, you will have a solid foundation of knowledge regarding the training and treatment of shelter dogs with specific attention to re-homing. You will also learn the skills which could help launch an animal shelter or dog rescue training program.  You may hold classes for dog owners and/or seminars to improve the knowledge of people in your community. As an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, you may have the opportunity to not only train shelter dogs, but to place them in permanent, loving homes. Every hour spent with a shelter dog makes a world of difference, and upon completion of the Training Shelter Dog Program, you will have the knowledge to positively transform the lives of shelter dogs.

Furthermore, Training Shelter Dogs is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

The Art of Selling and Teaching Private Lessons
(available for Dog Obedience Instructor program students and alumni only, or students with sufficient previous dog training education)

Understanding how to conduct private dog training sessions is a crucial component of a professional dog trainer’s career. There are several reasons why learning how to offer quality private lessons is greatly beneficial to your training repertoire. Some clients are better served by one-on-one, individualized, personalized training rather than a group class atmosphere – perhaps the client’s schedule is especially hectic, her puppy is not of age to attend group classes, or her older dog’s shyness renders him uncomfortable when forced to interact with other dogs. Regardless of the particular client’s reason, the demand for private-lesson training can be a wonderful opportunity for the professional dog trainer. 

The Art of Selling and Teaching Private Lessons is comprised of approximately 300 pages of highly-detailed information on conducting private lessons. Authored by Teoti Anderson, former president of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), this Short Term Program will bolster your knowledge of proper private-lesson training and will instruct you on such imperative topics as sales techniques and tips, understanding communication styles, the different types of private training, developing effective training plans, how to teach off-leash behaviors, and how to achieve client compliance in order to maximize your training. Additionally, this program covers advanced tips for marketing yourself and your business and includes information on liability protection.

Upon completion of this program, you will have the knowledge to offer and conduct private lessons within a client’s home, at a local park or at your own facility. Your knowledge of how to obtain clientele and conduct efficient private lessons may assist you in growing your business and maximizing its potential.

The Art of Selling and Teaching Private Lessons is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking 
This program provides detailed information on the proper care of and interaction with a variety of pets—dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, fish and reptiles.  Subjects include understanding animal communication, such as body language and vocalization, basic nutrition and hygiene, first aid and safety.  You will also learn how to: build relationships with clients and their pets, ensure personal and homeowner safety, create and maintain schedules, build clientele and much more—everything you need to know to start your own pet sitting and/or dog walking business.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to offer new and highly sought after services to pet owners. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking has been approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits

Pet Nutrition and Diet 
The Pet Nutrition and Diet Short Term Program discusses basic nutrition, the regulations governing commercial pet foods, and the nutritional needs for both cats and dogs.  In this course, you will learn how to read pet food labels including the importance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and protective nutrients.  You will also learn about the different types of diets (i.e. dry food, canned food, raw food, supplements, etc.) and how food can play a huge role in a pet's behavior.  After the completion of this program, you will have the knowledge to educate your clients on how to provide their animals with proper nutrition based on their pet's individual age, weight, and health condition.

Pet Nutrition and Diet is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Pet Massage
The Pet Massage Short Term Program gives pet groomers, dog trainers, and veterinary staff the knowledge of how to calm some of the pets they interact with.  The ability to soothe and calm dogs and cats through touch improves the human-animal relationship and promotes trust and bonding.  Dog Trainers may have the ability to create a more positive training experience because they will have an enhanced knowledge of canine anatomy and acute awareness of touch zones.  This comprehensive course includes step-by-step instructions that guide you through the details of the choreography of a massage for different sizes and types of pets.  Topics include: general anatomy and physiology, principles and concepts for different types of massage, creating your workspace, preparing yourself, details for how to develop a pet massage business, and much more!*

In addition, Pet Massage is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

*State and federal laws regarding the practice of Pet Massage vary widely and are subject to change. Since ABC has no jurisdiction regarding state and federal laws revolving around the practice of Pet Massage, ABC highly recommends that potential students educate themselves on the state and federal laws and regulations and how they may affect their practice of Pet Massage before purchasing the ABC Pet Massage Short Term Program. It is the responsibility of potential students to determine what laws and regulations their state has adopted to govern the practice of Pet Massage. ABC does not assume any responsibility for state or federal regulations that prohibit or limit the practice of pet massage by the student.


If you have additional questions about our certified dog training program, please feel free to contact us.


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