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I'm thinking about becoming a dog trainer, but I have no idea where to start. This is an interest I've had since I was a kid. I wound up going to college for something else and I'll be graduating in 2 months, but I feel myself itching to go into dog training again. I got another dog not long ago and I LOVE training her, it's so rewarding. I'm going to start agility classes with her in a few weeks.

Anyway, I've been reading some books and training my dog, I can't get too much more into it, because I'm still finishing up my degree, which is time consuming. I was thinking of volunteering at the shelter I got my dog from, but I'm not sure if they would want me for only 8 more weeks I'm in the area. I'll ask, maybe they really need help. I thought that would help get me experience with many different dogs, plus it would make them more "adoptable".

Does anyone have any ideas of things I could be doing to work towards this goal, without actually enrolling in a program yet? Is there a big demand for dog trainers? I thought I might love training dogs to be service dogs, are there books on this topic? I have never seen a service dog training book, only basic obedience, tricks, and behavior issues.

I've been looking at some programs by google searching, but I'm never sure which programs are the good ones. Then I see a lot of them are online programs. Does anyone here have experience with any programs? Do I need a certification from a specific organization or does each school give out there own certifications? How can I learn how all of this works?
 

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Hi! I'm a dog trainer, specializing in behavior modification, but also teach puppy class, basic manners, etc.

I would recommend finding a local trainer who you admire and uses training methods that you agree with and inquire about assisting and/or becoming an intern. The best way to learn is getting in there, watching classes, and assisting.

This is what I did. :)

I am working towards my certification as a CPDT-KA, and CBCC-KA, just a matter of collecting hours and taking the exam.
 
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Hey there!

I'm currently working as an assistant dog trainer at a local club (it's almost time for me to teach my own class, I mainly do beginner's and puppies!) - that is seriously the best way to get started. You can even just start with helping set-up/tear-down, and clean-up.

I read as many books as I can, and take any classes I can find. I'm also planning on taking the Karen Pryor Dog Trainer Professional Program in the next year or so once I have more hands on experience with dogs other than my own. The KP course is a 6-month online course with workshops you need to travel to.

Good luck - there is always a need for positive reinforcement trainers. In my city, the school I work at is the only all-positive training center. Everyone else teaches dominance-based, heavy correction training.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for your ideas!
@Shandula Is an assistant trainer something you would find a job listing for or is that something you would have to ask a trainer about individually and already know them? How did you get your assistant job? Did you take classes there first, so everyone knew you?
@Gilliandi How are you working towards your CPDT-KA, and CBCC-KA? Are you part of a program?

I just started reading Culture Clash. Got my amazon wishlist growing. :)
 

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Look up the APDT.com website for info you might use to find out about becoming a Dog Trainer! Looks helpful!
 

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There are online classes that can help you on your way in addition to doing what Gilliandi said (which I highly recommend doing what Gillandi said). Right now I'm working as a trainer assistant and it's awesome.

Jean Donaldson and also Karen Pryor Academy are two online schools that I've been looking into. I am probably going to go with Jean Donaldson.
http://www.dogforum.com/members/8653/
 

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@ZoesMom - Interesting - I looked at both and decided to go with KP. :D
@MollyDoggy - I e-mailed explaining I was hoping to become a dog trainer etc etc. She told me to come take a class to see if I meshed with their teaching style (there IS actually a lot I would change - so much luring/adding cues far too early but it's a great school). I enjoyed it quite a bit, and she's let me take almost all their classes for free so I know what they do in each class. I would strongly recommend reaching out to trainers.

If you're looking for good books - I really like Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor.
 

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I got certified as a dog trainer last year. I did the Catch program, but it was a 6 week on campus program at an animal shelter that they don't seem to be doing again. I liked the program but I can't speak to their internet version. If you can, I would highly recommend finding an in person course or one that involved a lot of hands on work. Dog training is like swimming, you can learn a lot from books but if you don't do it successfully in real life it's probably not going to cut it.

I would also suggest you read the book "The Other End of the Leash" or other books by Patricia McConnell. She's another great trainer/behaviorist to follow along with Donaldson and Pryor. Oh, and Dr. Ian Dunbar and Turrid Rugaas.

In terms of demand for trainers it REALLY depends on where you live. If you want to see the demand, well simply pretend to be a person in search of a dog trainer. Do you get a lot of results? If so, then demand isn't as high and there's lots of competition. If you don't get many results, then you would get a lot more work as a private trainer if you got certified. There's also different demands for different sorts of trainers. I see you want to do service dogs, and this is a growing field that is definitely needed. The problem with some service dog training is that A LOT of it is volunteers training the dogs, so there's not always a lot of money in it. And even within the field of service work you have to train the dogs specifically to the person's needs. A dog for someone with PTSD is very different for a blind person, one in a wheelchair, epilepsy, autism and so on. If your lifestyle was suited to it, and you'd be willing to you could possibly be a puppy raiser for some organizations that breed and train service dogs right now. That would give you a lot of experience right away! I would suggest some but some are regional and I don't know where you are. There are also books on training service dogs but I don't know any off the top of my head. The Seeing Eye is an organization to look into. There's also Paws for Veterans. Actually, here's a list of organizations you can look into. (Sorry if you're not American). Listing of Service Dog Training Organizations | DogCapes.com

Also, just to make sure you know the difference--service dogs are not the same as therapy dogs who go visit people in hospitals and schools. I'm not sure if you knew but just putting it out there. There's a lot of issues with laws and people not knowing the difference between service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support dogs.

Oh and a note on Culture Clash. If you have an old copy and it's got that "teaching them to bark to make them stop barking" section...disregard it. It was proven to cause more problems!

Keep us updated on your progress!
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Okay so I have another question!!!

I started reading a book by Nicole Wilde on how to be a dog trainer. In one of the first chapters it said that anyone could call themselves a dog trainer without any certification whatsoever and start their business. However, the CCPDT is trying to rectify that by making a certification program where people have to do continuing education to earn CEUs to keep their certification. This was written ten years ago. :eek: Is this still the case? Can I make myself a website and call myself a dog trainer and just focus on obedience in the beginning or help shelters make dogs more adoptable for free to gain experience? Would clients sign up for group classes to someone who wasn't certified?

I was looking at the KPA Professional trainer program and it requires a lot of previous training experience. It looked like you had to practically be a professional trainer before even applying to the professional training program? So, does this mean a lot of trainers just start with no formal school training or shelter work or working as an assistant? Sorry, I think we went over this already a bit, I guess I'm a bit confused. It's like people have to get certified to be considered a certified professional trainer, but you already have to have professional training experience to apply to the certification schools in the first place? :confused: Or maybe I have this wrong, I don't know.

I also see KPA as a "Dog Trainer Foundations Course". It's directed towards people who are just getting into training and don't have a lot of experience that would be required to apply to the professionals course. Do you know anyone who has done this course? It's online and $350. Would this program help someone look more "certified", without being certified, say if they wanted to start as an assistant or train at shelters?

@ZoesMom What made you decide to go with Jean Donaldson school over KP? Just wondering, things I might think about when the time comes.

@Shandula Thanks for the book recommendation! I just got my hands on a copy and about to start reading it! It's the revised version with clicker training too :0 What made you choose KPA?

@traciek88 I've seen that book around, I'll try to get a copy of it. Thank you! This is a really good list of services dog organizations that I will look at, thanks! I actually found an organization in my town. You know, I've seen that advice on teaching dogs to bark to stop them from barking in a couple books while browsing at barns and noble. I found it really strange. I think I have the second edition of Culture Clash, so hopefully it's not in there anymore. I'll make a note if I come across it.
 

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In Canada, you can be a dog trainer with zero credentials. You really need to do your research and ask questions when you're looking for a course/looking for a school to apprentice at.

I did the Dog Trainer Foundations Course :) I really enjoyed it. Lots of knowledge about shaping vs luring vs capturing, the four quadrants, operant vs classic conditioning, clicker mechanics etc. It was a really good course. I took it because I like the theoretical and practical knowledge plus, you can use it to help you get into the KPA professional program.

I chose the KPA mainly because I had done the foundations course, and I'm a big fan of KP. In addition, the KPA course has hands-on workshops, and that really interested me, whereas I'm pretty sure the Jean Donaldson one didn't, at least when I last looked into it.

I'm a huge fan of continuous learning, so there is a good chance that I would do both courses over the span of a couple years to really get grounded.
 
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@Shandula Oh I'm so excited to meet someone who took that course. How long did it take you to complete it every day?

Is this the kind of course that you go through and pass/fail or graded or just a completion? What kind of homework assignments were there? What were your favorite course topics?

I'm trying to find more information on it, but the website doesn't seem to have a lot.
 

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I completed it really fast - the person who emailed me my certificate (see below) even said I did it super fast. :p I was home every day, and if I wasn't working on wedding stuff, I was working on that course.
It is broken up into different lessons (I don't even remember how many... eight? Six? Something like that) and at the end of each lesson you have a quiz. You need to get 80% on each quiz to "pass" that lesson. I think you can take the quiz a maximum of three times. I think the first three lessons or so involve no work at all with your dog - it's all about human learning.
My favourite part was easily the section on shaping. As a result shaping is now my default way to get a behavior. I never realized how "zombie" like dogs become when you're always luring. It becomes very much about the cookie and not the behavior (and I was always good about fading the lure!)

I think you can sign up to take a quick "demo" which will let you see how it looks when you take the course.

Side note - I leave in two days for ClickerExpo and I am freakin' pumped about it!

 

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Okay so I have another question!!!

I started reading a book by Nicole Wilde on how to be a dog trainer. In one of the first chapters it said that anyone could call themselves a dog trainer without any certification whatsoever and start their business. However, the CCPDT is trying to rectify that by making a certification program where people have to do continuing education to earn CEUs to keep their certification. This was written ten years ago. :eek: Is this still the case? Can I make myself a website and call myself a dog trainer and just focus on obedience in the beginning or help shelters make dogs more adoptable for free to gain experience? Would clients sign up for group classes to someone who wasn't certified?

I was looking at the KPA Professional trainer program and it requires a lot of previous training experience. It looked like you had to practically be a professional trainer before even applying to the professional training program? So, does this mean a lot of trainers just start with no formal school training or shelter work or working as an assistant? Sorry, I think we went over this already a bit, I guess I'm a bit confused. It's like people have to get certified to be considered a certified professional trainer, but you already have to have professional training experience to apply to the certification schools in the first place? :confused: Or maybe I have this wrong, I don't know.

I also see KPA as a "Dog Trainer Foundations Course". It's directed towards people who are just getting into training and don't have a lot of experience that would be required to apply to the professionals course. Do you know anyone who has done this course? It's online and $350. Would this program help someone look more "certified", without being certified, say if they wanted to start as an assistant or train at shelters?

@ZoesMom What made you decide to go with Jean Donaldson school over KP? Just wondering, things I might think about when the time comes.

@Shandula Thanks for the book recommendation! I just got my hands on a copy and about to start reading it! It's the revised version with clicker training too :0 What made you choose KPA?

@traciek88 I've seen that book around, I'll try to get a copy of it. Thank you! This is a really good list of services dog organizations that I will look at, thanks! I actually found an organization in my town. You know, I've seen that advice on teaching dogs to bark to stop them from barking in a couple books while browsing at barns and noble. I found it really strange. I think I have the second edition of Culture Clash, so hopefully it's not in there anymore. I'll make a note if I come across it.
@MollyDoggy Yes, it's true that the dog training industry is not regulated and anyone can make a website and call themselves a trainer with no experience. I highly recommend that you don't do this! The general public does not have an understanding of what dog trainers do as it is. I've already had people bugging me to take on reactive and aggressive cases just because they found out I am now working at a training facility. Just because I work there does not mean I am ready to take on cases like that. People have no understanding of how the training world works and then they get disappointed when they get a trainer who is not experienced enough to help them. They think that PR training does not work because they got someone inexperienced.

I would highly recommend volunteering at the shelter (working with their trainers) or volunteering your time at a training facility as an assistant trainer. That way you still have someone guiding and helping you!

That being said, I chose Jean Donaldson because it's more of an advanced course. I haven't actually signed up for it yet because it's so much money and we don't have it at the moment. One of my trainer friends went through the Karen Pryor Academy and she thinks it will be too basic for me. The Jean Donaldson curriculum is more in depth and more advanced. Right now I am working at a training facility under two CPDT-KA trainers and I'm learning a ton.
 

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@MollyDoggy Sorry it took me to long to see this!

The CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA are certifications that you can get after completing a certain amount of assisting and lead instructor hours, as well as taking an exam. So I'm collecting hours currently, and once I have those I can apply to take the exam. All of my assisting hours are done and now I'm just collecting lead instructor hours. :)

Here's the website: Certification for professional dog trainers and behavior consultants

This is one of the reasons why finding a mentor is the way to go. Great place to collect hours and learn!
 

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I've actually been looking into Bergin the last few days, I'll hopefully be talking to an admissions counselor later today.

They are an accredited university and give out Associates, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees in 'Canine Studies'. They're the only accredited school in the US that does this (others just give out certificates). They are super small- I think each class has like 22 people or something crazy like that. They specialize in Service Dog Training but have a Companion Dog Training track as well. For both the Associates and the Bachelor's tracks students are assigned a dog to take home, be with all the time, and train. I'm not sure how this works with the Companion track but I know their Service Dogs are trained this way before being placed with the public. IMO that is a great pro or a great con depending on one's situation- for example, it's a nice way to have a dog and gain experience without being financially responsible for it, but it's not great if you already have more than one dog or even have a dog that doesn't get along with others. You do also have to live in the area and they have no housing through the school- it's a nice area but there is a pretty high cost of living + whatever it costs to move there.

For me it's a great deal because I don't have a degree yet and want at least an Associate's before I venture out into the world and I still have financial support from my parents to cover costs of moving cross country and cost of living in CA, plus even with housing and tuition (which I think is like $10,000 per year) it would be cheaper than going back to my alternative college. If I had a degree and was covering costs out of my own pocket, however, I don't know if I'd feel the same way.

It seems like you can go far just finding a mentor/apprenticeship, seminars, taking advantage of books and the internet and even online classes from big name trainers, and get some business knowledge and then find a niche that needs filling.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
@Shandula Thank you for sharing more about the course! If I can get the funds, I will do it after I graduate. I can't wait! :D I'll have to do some reading about shaping, that looks interesting!

@ZoesMom lol, I should have been more specific, I would never start a training business just starting out. Just trying to understand how things worked I guess. :) I'm going to take that KPA Foundations course after I graduate and see about volunteering at a shelter first and see how I can start learning from other trainers. Thanks for sharing more about the Jean Donaldson course!

@Gilliandi Thanks for explaining about CPDT! I'm going to have a long look at this site.

I have one more question for everyone if it's okay. You've all been so helpful, I really appreciate it! My last question is, well I don't want to turn this into a negative topic and I hope this isn't against forum rules to ask? However, I do want to be aware of things I might not like about dog training, before going head first into it and realizing, "OMG, This isn't for me!" :eek: I would already be changing careers right out of college from a different career I only now realize I don't like.

So I guess I'm wondering, what are things you wish you knew before getting into it, that might change someone's mind before seriously pursuing it? What don't you like about training dogs (or training humans to train their dogs)? I only have experience training my own dog, so I have no idea what it's like to do house calls training other people to train their dog. If it's mostly a positive experience or is it sometimes very difficult to handle?

I just finished reading, "So you want to be a dog trainer", which kind of touched these topics a little bit, but I guess I want to hear more deeply about it. I'm a very anxious person, I want to know if this a career I can handle, which will come with some experience doing it and finding out for myself, but would love to hear from your experiences too. Dogs calm me, but people make me anxious, so it's a weird combination for me.

Thank you!
 

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Victoria Stillwell has a dog trainer academy that she just started up this year. As soon as I get the money I will be taking that course. I can not remember the website but I have a thread about it. May be something for you to look at��.
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