Why Certification is Important for Dog Trainers
You love training your dog. Not only do you get to spend time with him, but you also have the best behaved dog of anyone you know. You’ve even had some success helping your friends train their dogs. Your life matches the description of a dog trainer! You believe this might be a great career path for you. What is your next step?
If you love animals, training dogs is a great way to spend your days surrounded by them. It’s also a good choice because it’s an easy field to pursue. No degree or certification is required to become a dog trainer. Really, all you need are clients to be able to start a dog training career. However, before you rush out to have business cards printed, you should seriously consider getting training yourself and becoming certified.
Whether you’re looking to work for someone else, or to run your own business, being a certified dog trainer gives legitimacy to your abilities. Just like a plumber saying he’s licensed and bonded, customers feel more comfortable with someone who has been trained and certified. With a dog training certification, you can take on those customers, and their pets, with confidence.
Choosing a Dog Training School
The best way to get started on your dog training career is to enroll in a trade school or training program specifically designed to teach people how to become dog trainers. The breadth of training will be much deeper with these programs, and you’ll receive certification upon completion. Several of these dog training programs are even offered online, so you can take advantage of self-paced learning wherever you live.
Every dog trainer program will vary some on the curriculum, but any good program will cover these important topics:
- Basics of dogs – Every dog trainer needs to have basic knowledge of dog psychology and why dogs behave in certain ways. This will be the basis for learning to read dog body language and understand cues they are giving you.
- Theory of dog training – Dog training has evolved over the years. Common methods used even 30 years ago are now considered detrimental or even inhumane. Only consider programs that teach positive reinforcement techniques. A great program will teach you the theory and scientific principles behind this method.
- Specific skills and tools for training – Theory is the basis for all training, but you need to be able to apply that theory to teaching specific behaviors. A great program will cover all the common commands of dog obedience plus all the methods used in teaching advanced behaviors. You should learn all the skills you will need to teach tricks or other specialized actions.
- Problem solving behavioral issues – There are common behavioral problems you will need to learn how to solve. Not all of your training will be working with impressionable, young puppy minds. Older dogs often need to unlearn bad habits to integrate successfully with their human family. A great program will give you the skills needed to do this.
- Breed specific traits – We have managed to breed dogs to fulfill specific tasks. The result is that even mixed breeds will have traits specific to the jobs they were originally intended to do. If you only work with dogs that were bred to be companions, you might not know what to do with the intensity of a herding dog or the scent distraction of a hound. This should be an important part of any curriculum.
In addition to the above topics, a successful dog trainer needs some non-training skills. A good program will also cover these areas. Every dog you work with will have an owner, so good people skills is a must to be a dog trainer. You’ll need to be able to sell yourself to potential clients and teach the owners how to properly work with their dogs. Clear communication between you and your clients is key to helping your clients change their dogs’ behaviors for the better.
The versatility of dogs means they can be trained to help humans in many different ways. After your first certification, you may want to pursue a specialized area of training, such as service dogs or search and rescue dogs. There are many paths you can take with your dog training certification. It is truly a career that can be tailored to your interests—and all of it is with dogs!