Why You Should Become an Animal Trainer
“Follow your passion.”
That bit of life and career advice gets passed around quite a bit. Unfortunately, not every hobby or interest lends itself to becoming an occupation. Taking on a job you aren’t crazy about just to pay the bills can quickly become a permanent thing. Fortunately for animal lovers, economics and enthusiasm can actually align.
Unlike many professions, pet trainers don’t normally need to relocate in order to find opportunity.
Pet ownership is on the rise across the country, which means demand for qualified trainers is not only going up, but it’s also not restricted to any single location. Pets are popular everywhere people live. Whether the place you call home is in the city or the suburbs, the odds are good that people in your community have a need for help with training their pets. For certified pet trainers, this means opportunity can be everywhere.
Similarly, the need for service dog trainers is growing steadily. Trained service dogs are needed by people with a variety of physical and limitations, and there are far too few to meet the demand.
Dog Training as a Career
Of course, the first step in taking advantage of all of this opportunity is doing something to stand out from the other animal lovers out there. Passion is a given in the world of dog care and training. We’ve known dogs as “man’s best friend” for generations. So how do you turn that affection into a working relationship?
We all should know by now that being a responsible dog owner necessarily involves at least some amount of training. However, different dogs have different needs. What is more is that different dog owners may not know how to accommodate their particular dog’s quirks and habits.
This is where the importance of becoming certified as a professional dog trainer really shows itself. Plenty of enthusiastic dog owners may understand the basics of dog obedience and positive reinforcement dog training, but going through an accredited dog training program can help you understand how to teach all dogs—not just the ones who are naturally receptive to you. A strong foundation in animal training theory as well as problem solving helps you adapt your approach to each dog.
Because the personalities of each dog and her family can create different challenges and time demands, there is as much variety in the dog training industry as there is among dogs themselves. However, the factors that remain consistent are the dedication of dog trainers, their love for their work and their passion for the animals they work with.
Whether you turn your dog training certification into a full-time job working with dogs and owners or just put in time on the weekends, it’s up to you to decide what you want your dog training career to look like.
Cat Training as a Career
Training animals isn’t just a matter of controlling their behavior, but also of better understanding their needs and how they communicate. This is an area where cats have, historically, gotten less credit than they deserve. However, the notion that cats can’t be trained is disappearing and being replaced with a growing demand for professionals who know how to work with cats.
Thanks in part to the explosive growth in the popularity of therapy animals, people are becoming more aware of the importance of professional training for their cats and dogs. The range of behaviors and services these pets are able to provide has helped prove that cats are every bit as receptive to training as dogs. It has also helped prove that both cats and dogs can be well-behaved, prosocial, and safe companions for families of all sizes and owners of all ages.
While not every cat is destined to work as a service or therapy animal, the principles of behavioral training are relevant to all cats and their families. If you happen to be one of the people who know there is more than meets the eye with cats and want to share your love of felines with others, then earning your cat training certification can put you on the path toward making that a reality.
The rewards of cat training go beyond getting to spend more time with cats and getting paid for it. A cat training career is as much about educating cat owners as it is building relationships with cats.
Training People, Loving Pets
Just like with teachers in the classroom, the day’s lessons only go so far if students don’t get the appropriate support and attention at home. Employers of all sizes are looking for certified trainers who can work with pets as well as communicate with pet owners effectively. This is where the passion you bring helps turn your education into a career to make the maximum impact.
As a pet lover, you very likely already enjoy talking about cats and dogs with other owners, discussing their behavior—both good and bad—and trading tips and tricks. Being an effective pet trainer means turning this love of all things pet-related into focused conversations, helping clients turn your training into a supportive and loving environment at home.
The difference between getting a pet to follow directions and behave during training and having that same obedience and cooperation continue after the session ends comes down to the owners. Certified animal trainers have the understanding of theory and technique needed to communicate to pet owners, and help them understand how to continue reinforcing and rewarding their pets to make the training stick.
Finding success as a pet trainer ultimately means combining a love for dogs and cats with a solid knowledge of training and behavioral principles. “Follow your passion” isn’t just good advice for pet trainers; it is the first step toward a meaningful career.