How To Become a Dog Trainer
It really seems like a dream, doesn’t it? Dog trainers get to help owners communicate with their new puppies, rescue dogs, and even teach old dogs new tricks. They get to help fix behavioral issues when all hope seems lost. It is a rewarding, creative, and fun career.
Don’t be fooled! Becoming a dog trainer is not all puppies and teaching “roll over.” The path to a career as a dog trainer often requires a lot of picking up poop, walking endlessly around the block, and working the hours when everyone else is off work. That being said, the pros often outweigh the cons.
Still think dog training is the right career for you? Read on about how you can enter the wide world of dog training.
Route 1: Dog Training School
There are many places where you can get a high-quality education in dog training. Often these schools have a very thorough curriculum that teach you the ins and outs of dog training while using your own dog to practice. Generally speaking, these schools lack the hands-on experience needed to get you comfortable around clients. However, at PAVLOV, we always love to see an applicant with this education attached to their resume.
There are two schools in particular that we love to hire graduates from: Starmark Academy and The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers. These schools have a very balanced approach to dog training. The skills you learn will not be limited to one training style. You will learn how to do everything and then can choose your own philosophy once you gain dog training knowledge and experience.
Beware of schools or certifications that offer only one skillset and scare you away from certain dog training tools or techniques. Some schools will tell you they do not use “fear-based” techniques and then use a bunch of propaganda to scare you away from using them. This kind of limited education will not only keep you from gainful employment with many companies, but will also keep you from being able to help as many people and dogs.
Route 2: Apprenticeship or Internship
Apprenticeship and internship have long been the routes most dog trainers take to their career in dog training. Many dog trainers can use the help that an apprentice dog trainer offers in exchange for a hands-on education. At PAVLOV, we like to hire trainers with at least 1 year under another professional dog trainer or dog training company.
Reach out to local companies and see if any of them are taking on apprentices or internships. Choose companies wisely, and make sure that if a dog trainer only specializes in one dog training style, that you supplement your education with other styles as well. Know that apprenticeships or internships are often unpaid. Some may require you to enroll your own dog in one of their programs as an introduction, which will cost the amount of that program. Keep in mind, however, this will be significantly less expensive than schooling, and a worthwhile investment.
PAVLOV offers an internship and we are always looking for fresh faces to learn the ins and outs of the trade with our expert dog trainers. We are the highest rated dog training company in both Denver and Portland, so you will be learning from the best. Many interns go on to accept full-time positions with us, especially if they have already gone to Starmark or The Michael Ellis School as well. Click here to apply or learn more.
Route 3: Certification
We only recommend this route in addition to the above options and not as a standalone option. Many dog training certifications require a test that will examine your knowledge, but not your hands-on ability. However, this is a way to communicate to the public and fellow dog trainers that you are dedicated to maintaining a high standard in the industry.
PAVLOV offers a certification through our internship program. Becoming PAVLOV certified shows future employers that you are well-versed in all training styles, tools, and techniques and that you have an interest in continuing education.
Other options are IACP and CPDT certifications. IACP is more friendly to a wide variety of training styles, though many of our dog trainers love their CPDT certification and the continuing education it offers them.
After you finish one or multiple of these steps, you’re ready to join a team as a junior trainer! Anticipate spending 6 months on your internship and education, plus 6 months gaining experience in a group class setting or big box store before you can join a top-tier private or board-and-train company. Then, get your resume out there and join the wild world of dog training.
PAVLOV is hiring dog trainers in both Denver and Portland, Oregon. If you have an education and at least 1 year of professional dog training experience, click here to apply to be one of our private or board-and-train dog trainers.