Dog training not only opens a line of communication between man and dog, but also equips the canines with skills to perform diverse tasks in law enforcement, search and rescue, property protection and dog sports. Dog trainers use techniques such as classical conditioning and habituation to postively modify the natural behavior of dogs. If you love working with animals, this could be the perfect career for you.
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1. What Do Dog Trainers Do?
Their duties include:
- Assessing dogs for trainability (Determining the ability of a dog to acquire new skills)
- Developing dog training programs – This involves identifying the techniques to be used for training dogs with various abilities
- Instructing the animals during training sessions – This may involve giving verbal instructions or using signs
- Providing general care, such as cleaning, feeding and administering prescribed medications
- Keeping records of the training process
- Educating dog owners on how to train their dogs
2. Work Environment
Although dog trainers usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Fridays, some training sessions may require you to put in extra hours. For example, when potty-training a pet dog, you may need to conduct training sessions at night.
Dog trainers spend most of their time in outdoor training fields, where they instruct the canines. The work is also physically demanding, as these professionals are often on their feet standing, bending, walking, jogging or running.
Sel-employed trainers regularly travel to clients’ homes to train their dogs.
According to Payscale, dog trainers earn an average annual salary of between $18,142 and $72,000 annually.
4. Entry Requirements
To become a dog trainer, you must be knowledgeable about dog behavior, animal learning, canine development stages, and dog health care. The best way to gain this knowledge is to pursue a certificate or diploma in dog training.
Here are some of the institutions with dog trainer programs:
- Penn Foster Career School, Pennsylvania
- Bergin University of Canine Studies, California
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).
It is important to note that the programs offered in the institutions may focus on a certain aspect of dog training. For example, the diploma offered at Penn Foster Career Schools focuses on obedience training while Bergin University focuses on assistance training.
As you study, or upon completion of your course, you can volunteer in dog centers to gain some experience working with dogs.
5. Important Qualities
- Strong analytical skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Strong teamwork skills
- Physical fitness
- An interest in dogs and animal behavior
- Good problem-solving skills
- Good instructional skills
- Good interpersonal skills
- Good observation skills
6. Career Advancement
Once you are hired as a dog trainer, you should obtain certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). This way, you will improve your competence and gain professional recognition.
To access networking opportunities and stay abreast of industry developments, secure membership in the APDT.
You can also pursue a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior.
7. Job Opportunities
Although some dog trainers work part-time, you can find employment full-time opportunities in:
- Dog training centers
- Social services agencies (offer jobs for training dogs to help people with disabilities).
- Dog shelter, adoption and rescue organizations
- Animal hospitals.
With vast dog training experience, you can establish your own dog training business. You can also get hired as an instructor in schools that offers courses for aspiring dog trainers. With a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior, you will have the opportunity to practice as an animal behaviorist.
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Finally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster-than-average growth (15 percent) for all animal care and service workers, including dog trainers. This means you should not expect to face fierce competition for jobs.
So if you believe that the dog is man’s best friend, this career will give you the chance to spend you professional life with these wonderful creatures.