A career in dog training can be tremendously rewarding for you if you love working with dogs and it does take a very special and dedicated person with a really big heart towards animals to become a professional dog trainer.
However, a dog training career can also be very challenging and it is going to take you a great deal of time, patience and determination to become a successful dog trainer.
Therefore, before you go enroll yourself to become a dog trainer, let’s first examine your motives and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you love all dogs regardless of age, breed or temperament? Can you really work with them even if the dogs are stubborn and aggressive?
- Are you comfortable working with people? A dog trainer job is not just about training dogs. It is also about training people, specifically the dog owners themselves on how to train their dogs.
- Are you kind, respectful and patient? Dog trainers must be kind and patient teachers since most dogs cannot be trained in a couple of minutes. Many hours of dedication and patience will be required to work with both animals and humans to achieve the desired results.
- Are you willing to put in a lot of time and effort to become a successful dog trainer? In your dog training career, you will come across many different types of behavior problems with different breed of dogs therefore you will need to be committed to keep your dog training knowledge up-to-date by attending seminars, workshops and conferences so that you will become a well-qualified, knowledgeable and skillful dog trainer who understands canine behavior, knows the appropriate techniques on how to train and care for the dog.
Let's say that you have decided that you are truly passionate about dogs and committed to make handling dogs a successful career, the next big question is how to do you start your dog training career?
A career in dog training can begin in a number of ways:
- By volunteering at one of your local rescue centres or animal shelters, you can pick up lots of great hands-on and observational experience. Often dog shelters will also have some form of training program for their volunteers or you may also be assigned to help one of the trainers. As your experience progresses, you will be given more responsibilities to help out in other aspects of the dog training.
- While expensive and quite a time commitment, attending a proper dog training school or a K9 academy can give you a more formalized and professional education as a dog trainer. To get started, check with your local pet stores or veterinary hospitals for reference and recommendations.
- You can also contact the local dog behavior trainers or dog breeders in your area and become an apprentice to take lessons from them directly. Alternatively, some guide dogs training centers offer apprenticeship programs for anyone interested in becoming instructors for the school.
- Another way to start your dog training career is through self study. Read as many training books as possible and attend lots of seminars, workshops and conferences to learn about dog training and behavior modification. In addition, you may also want to try training your friends or neighbor's dogs to get some real hands-on experience and improve your training skills with dogs.
While there are also some mail and online correspondence courses that claim to "certify" you as a "professional" in the field of dog training and behavior, you would do well to avoid any of them. Most correspondence courses at most can only offer you basic information on dog handling skills and you probably will learn as much from reading books on dog training.
As you make the transition from trainee to dog trainer, you can start your professional career in dog training working full time or part time. As a professional dog trainer, the income that you could earn can be attractive. Many full time dog trainers earn an income of $30,000 to $100,000 annually depending on experience, reputation and location.
As mentioned before, a career in dog training can be extremely satisfying and rewarding. If you truly care about dogs and can work with both dogs and humans on a daily basis, then becoming a dog trainer would be an excellent and fulfilling career choice for you.
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