Question by ACtimes3: I want to become a dog trainer, can I specialize in training puppies and therapy dogs?
I am looking into ABC (Animal Behavior College) to study dog training. I was wondering if I can specialize in training puppies and therapy dogs? Is there a demand for this?
Answer by Borders Rock
I would suggest that you first become a “regular” dog trainer. You need years of experiance in order to specialize, just like in any other profession. There are MANY MANY methods of training out there and you first have to choose the one that you feel is best for the dogs and yourself. There is the “correction method”, the “clicker method” the “purely positive method” and that is just to name a few. You first have to understand all the various methods and decide which you feel is most appropriate. Once you do that, teach dogs of all ages for a few years successfully and then specialize.
Puppies ALWAYS need training so there will be a never ending supply of students if you are good at what you do.
Therapy Dogs – that rather depends upon what you consider a “therapy dog”. Are you talking about the ones that visit hospitals and nursing homes and participate in the “read to children” programs? If so, there is no specialized training involved. Either the dog has the right personality and training through the regular channels or he/she doesn’t. My older Border Collie is a certified St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog up here in Canada. All that was required was “testing” – for temperament and obedience and reaction to “strange” circumstances and loud noises. Temperament cannot be taught. It’s there or not…behavior can be modified but not temperament….Also, most Therapy Dog programs do not want “young” puppies and dogs. I believe that here the dog must be a minimum of 2 years old before it can be tested. This does NOT fit in well with your “puppy” scheme – unless you continue on with older dogs once they are out of your puppy class.
If, by Therapy Dog, you mean “service dogs” to the blind, deaf, physically impaired…that is a different story. All the various agencies for these dogs will have quite strict requirements (I imagine – I have never needed to check) and will more than likely require years of proven experience before they will train you to train these special working dogs.
Good luck….I love to hear that someone is interested in making the dog’s life (and owner’s life) a most enjoyable experience!
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