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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there, community! First time poster here. I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up! Four and a half years of college, $50,000 of debt and one useless degree later and I want to be a dog trainer! (My parents are so proud.) I have not had much luck talking any local trainers into letting me apprentice under them, so I have decided just to take the plunge and start an in-home training business. I will, of course, be starting small and do not plan on biting off more than I can chew. Any secrets, common sense, or advice I should know before starting off?
 

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Positive Reinforcement Training is the way to go. :)
 

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Research, research, research. I honestly wouldn't start with a business if you haven't read anything or don't have any experience. I definitely ditto Ablue's advice to get certified. Here is APDT's education page: So You Want to be a Dog Trainer!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for your responses!

I have looked into getting certified. It is certainly something I plan on for the future. I've been researching for the past few months, reading pretty much anything I can get my hands on regarding dog training. I've gone through APDT's recommended reading list and begun purchasing away! I was hesitant to start a business without any experience. However, there's a Catch-22 that really leaves me with no other option. I cannot get hired as a trainer by most companies because I do not have experience, but I cannot get experience if no one will hire me. My plan is, before I dive head first, to test my abilities on friends' and neighbors' dogs and see how they stack up. In other words, I have not quit my day job yet.
 

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That's a great plan. I also know of a few trainers who've started with PetSmart/PetCo just so that they have experience. That might be something to look into. I would just be careful with using methods that they teach, since I know they use aversives that aren't very helpful (pennies in a can and whatnot).
 

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That was my plan A. Work at one of them, get experience. I applied at both. I used to work at Petsmart as a cashier so I thought I would be a shoe-in, but it did not work out that way. The manager I used to work for was no longer there. In fact, no one I worked with was there anymore to vouch for me. Plan B was working for a trainer in my area. That did not work out either. So here I am. Plan C.

Don't Shoot the Dog was one of the first books I bought! It was a great read. I plan on reading it again after I get through the two library books I have.
 

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How are your people skills? How much do you like training people?


Because thats what the job REALLY is. Training people to train dogs. If you dont want to do that the job will suck the life out of you honestly :)

Learn about tagteach on top of the dog topics :) im a member of the apdt if you have questions about membership :)
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Discussion Starter #11
I have worked in customer service since I was 15. I went to college so I would not have to anymore. Now I work in a stuffy law office and cannot wait to get out. I never thought I would miss customer service, but after seeing the same two people every day I am dying to get back into it!

Admittedly, my teaching abilities are not as good as I would like them to be. I am a visual teacher--I like to show people how to do them and then let them do it. Although it sometimes turns into me just doing it. I have two of Nicole Wilde's books dealing with the subject on my reading list.

What is tagteach?

I would love to know more about APDT. Specifically what kind of teaching tools (seminars, resources, etc.) they provide members. What is the most beneficial part of membership?
 

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I have worked in customer service since I was 15. I went to college so I
would not have to anymore. Now I work in a stuffy law office and cannot wait to get out. I never thought I would miss customer service, but after seeing the same two people every day I am dying to get back into it!
haha, yeah, Im in retail, and I always say I hate people, but deep down I know thats not really true :p


Admittedly, my teaching abilities are not as good as I would like them to be. I am a visual teacher--I like to show people how to do them and then let them do it. Although it sometimes turns into me just doing it. I have two of Nicole Wilde's books dealing with the subject on my reading list.
anything by Nicole is priceless. I was lucky enough to go to a seminar of hers a year :confused: or two ago... she is forever patient. When she was fielding questions, som' of them imo were a bit, well, bad (either very basic, or asking about what she JUST covered) and she never once acted irritated. Im assuming you have her "want to be a trainer" (or somthing to that effect) book?



What is tagteach?
Its applying many of the clicker principles to teaching humans. Sounds easy but its also tweeked a bit since humans use language and if its obvious your training them, they get offended. Attend a seminar if you can, I got to go to one at clicker expo being held by the creators.
TAGteach International | Sports, Dance and Special Needs Teaching

honestly, I think its a really good idea to learn this when your making the transition from teaching animals, to teaching people to teach animals. :)

I would love to know more about APDT. Specifically what kind of teaching tools (seminars, resources, etc.) they provide members. What is the most beneficial part of membership?
They hold a conference every year, I have not gone yet, I'm on the west coast and the last one was on the east coast I believe. There is a forum like this one on the site you can access once you join. There is a magazine FULL of helpful stuff they send out 4 times a year...you get info on insurance also.

Honestly tho, for me, the biggest benefit is just simply looking more credible to the public, and having a credible site list me. Since anyone can just say "im a dog trainer" its important you have som'thing to set you apart. You get to use the logo on your bussiness cards and website also.

but yes I get what you mean, you can't get hired without experience, you can't get experience without being hired. You cant be certified without experience that no one will give you. All the while, these bad trainers run around shouting dominance and taking naive peoples money. Its a silly system.

Have you decided to do classes? privates? what you want to offer? Not offer?



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I'm in the same boat as you, At Whitts End. It's very difficult to get experience or do stuff when nobody wants you.
 

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Maybe this is a bad idea, but my field is hard to break into as well (graphic design), and I know entry level folks who do projects pro bono (for free) or at a very discounted rate for awhile until they can charge normal rates and have a decent portfolio. You can end up building relationships with clients who may be willing to pay to keep you once you have more experience, and you'd also have more than just "friends and family" experience.
 

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Maybe this is a bad idea, but my field is hard to break into as well (graphic design), and I know entry level folks who do projects pro bono (for free) or at a very discounted rate for awhile until they can charge normal rates and have a decent portfolio. You can end up building relationships with clients who may be willing to pay to keep you once you have more experience, and you'd also have more than just "friends and family" experience.

ah, yes. This is a good idea. I've heard of new trainers doing this.



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Discussion Starter #16
I want to do private in-home sessions at first to gain experience, build a client base and report, and get comfortable training. Right now I am only comfortable doing basic obedience. No aggression. I would like to attend a training program after I am sure it is something I am cut out for/have the funds. Later I would like to have a dog training facility where I hold group classes. I had planned to charge $35/hour to start with. Other trainers in my area charge $50/hour. At least I think. Now that I think about it I am not sure where I got that number. It's been a while since I have looked.
 

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I started off at Petsmart, which gave me the experience to be able to get into more "credible" trainer roles. I run my own training program now out of a boarding kennel as well as take some clients on the side. I keep missing the deadline for my CPDT, but am going to try to do it this autumn. I have all the hours and two references, I still need my vet reference..
Anyway, ditto the probono or cheap work unless you're willing to go the petsmart route. BTW, Petsmart will teach you some good things (and last I checked I believe they are trying to update their curriculum to go away from any corrections- I was the most popular trainer in my district so they let me do what I want as far as not including corrections, using more clicker-heavy stuff, etc..) but you have to continue your own education via research, seminars, etc. Sounds like you've got a good reading list going :]
 

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Any interest in doing a formal training program?
I see you are in the states (so maybe this is a no go) but these folks are awesome and really affordable. I know a number of students who have gone through the program - they said it was very comprehensive (including lectures on things like insurance and starting your business) and really prepared them well to start training.
The author/head instructor is also the founder and chair of the IPDTA.

Why CCS? - Become a Professional Certified Dog Trainer
 

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The biggest thing I look for in a trainer is titles. I won't go to a trainer if they can't title their own dog, even if they have every APDT certification. All that is is paper and some time. It doesn't show me your skills.

I'm working at becoming a trainer, and I'm not looking for accreditation anywhere as of now, and I doubt I will. I'm working at trialing my own dogs and showing some of my acquantances' dogs. I do "pro-bono" training at the dog park where I work for members for free or the price of treats, but that is as far as I will go until I am ensured/bonded, and have titles to back up my knowledge. Would you trust someone to train your dog in obedience if they couldn't get an obedience title on their dog? Joe blow on the street may, but I wouldn't.
 

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There are lots of good trainers without titles on dogs ;). Competition does not appeal to everyone and not all trainers have sound dogs for competition.
Also, For example, trialing dogs near me would involve traveling at least 80 miles one way, take a day off work plus pay entry fees plus pay a sitter to watch the other dogs
So while i dont disagree with the idea of titling being good, i think its unfair to insinuate a trainer must have a titled dog to be worthwhile. If i was looking for a schtzhund trainer, yes id look for titles but 99.999 % of the public doesnt want much outside of basics and som' behavior mod. I dont feel you need to be a professional racecar driver to teach the average person how to operate their sedan ;)
I've met trainers with ob dogs and they are useless for behaviot issues. I personally dont do akc obedience so i dont offer it. I offer behavior mod which is very VERY different. You cant title a dog in "resource guarding rehab" ob Titling takes money and time and money and time and more money and time that most adults do not have :) ;)
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