You love dogs, all animals really, but especially dogs. Not only do you love being around them, but you find their behavior interesting. The idea of working with dogs in a professional capacity and to earn a living helping pets has considerable appeal.
Maybe you considered veterinary medicine, but it wasn’t for you. Please don’t feel bad; there are lots of other ways in which you can help dogs live their best lives. One option is to become a dog trainer. Perhaps you have always had an easy time getting along with dogs and find that most dogs seem to be very comfortable around you. Maybe you have even done a little research by Googling “dog trainer school near me” but are still unsure what you need to know before becoming a dog trainer.
So, let’s review the top 6 things you should consider before becoming a dog trainer.
1) Do you love dogs and want to help them? This might seem like an obvious question, but you might be surprised how many people don’t consider it when looking into this profession. I had people tell me that when they got into sales or accounting, they didn’t do so because they loved those subjects, so why is dog training any different? The short answer is that you will almost always do better and be happier doing something you genuinely love.
2) Are you a patient person? Dog training takes time, practice, and patience. So having a patient personality is a real plus when becoming a dog trainer.
3) Do you enjoy helping and working with people? This might seem like a strange question, but a great deal of training dogs is really about teaching the people who love them. The better you are at working with and communicating with people, the easier it will be for you when you work with pet parents. Some animal lovers don’t consider themselves “people persons,” and while working with people isn’t an absolute prerequisite for being a good dog trainer, it will help.
4) What kind of dog training do you wish to do? Do you want to teach dogs obedience? Perhaps you have worked with dogs in competitive obedience and want to learn and do more there. Maybe you are intrigued with helping people experiencing canine behavioral challenges or desire to train service dogs or search and rescue dogs. Once you know what type of training you wish to learn, you can start researching the best schools to attend. The southern California based Animal Behavior College is a good example of a school that teaches some of the aforementioned topics. Speaking of California, there are outstanding dog training colleges in California, which might seem like a random comment, but since dog training is a skill typically practiced outdoors, the weather in California, particularly southern California, means searching for dog obedience training in Los Angeles and/or a dog training college in California will result in you finding a dog training school that enjoys some of the best weather anywhere in the United States.
5) How do you learn best? Some people learn most effectively in an immersive classroom program, while others thrive taking online classes to start and then combining them with a hands-on portion down the road. Once you have asked and answered these questions, you can begin to look at certified dog trainer schools near you and make an educated decision as to whether you wish to attend an online dog training program or a dog trainer school in person. Again, schools like Animal Behavior College offer both types of programs. An online program or an immersive classroom course that involves students going to the school campus and learning about dogs and dog training 5 days a week, 8 hours per day for over 5 months.
Which program is right for you? Again, that depends on how you learn best.
Finally, before you apply to any school ask yourself the 6th question.
6) Are you prepared to dedicate both time and effort to mastering your new profession? Some folks think dog training is about playing with puppies and petting dogs all day. While there is undoubtedly puppy play and lots of doggie petting, a great deal of work is involved in becoming a professional dog trainer. First, dog trainers need to understand the principles of behavior, behavior modification, and how to apply those principles in real-world situations. Dog trainers need to know how to work with all different types of dogs and personalities, and there is some risk involved in this profession. Dog training takes time to master, and it can take trainers years to become experts. It requires academic and physical commitments along with patience and a great deal of practice. Is this worth the effort? That’s for you to answer. But if you want the ability to make a tangible difference in the lives of pets and the people who love them, if you’re going to take pride in becoming a certified dog trainer and take pride in the fact that pet parents searching for a “certified dog trainer school near me” will find your name, and you will be able to help them, then perhaps this is the profession for you.