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Dog trainer certification programs

Is it worth the time and money to attend a state-certified dog trainer school?

In the past, most professional dog trainers were self-taught or trained by the military. These days, many pro dog trainers start their careers by attending a state-certified school school for dog trainers.

Dog trainer certification programs generally last from 4 - 16 weeks, and require full time attendance (at least 40 hours per week, but often much more). The cost of these programs is relatively expensive, ranging from $5000 to $12,000.

So, is it worth the considerable time and money to attend a dog trainer's academy before becoming a professional dog trainer? In my opinion, the answer is "yes."

Why Attend Dog Trainer School?

Unless you happen to have access to an expert dog trainer who is willing to mentor you, attending a state-certified school for dog trainers is a great way to fast track your dog training career. That's because certified programs have comprehensive curricula that are created and overseen by world-class dog trainers.

A good dog training certification program will immerse you in the world of dog behavior until one of two things happens:

  1. You absorb the knowledge and start to become dog behavior expert.
  2. You realize that dog training just isn't the right career path for you.

Because of the time and expense of attending dog trainer school, you should do more research if you think that scenario 2 is a possibility for you. But, if you've got enough experience that you're pretty certain you'll enjoy working with dogs and their owners on a daily basis, then attending a dog trainer's school is a great way to gain a comprehensive understanding of dog behavior in a relatively short period of time.

Why Do You Recommend Only State-Certified Schools?

While there are a few state certified dog trainer's schools around the US, there are many uncertified programs that are generally less expensive. So, why not just save some money and attend one of the uncertified schools? Well, there are two reasons.

First, when you sign up with an uncertified dog trainer's program, you just can't be certain of the quality of education you'll receive. Dog training on a professional level is not easy — mastery of the field requires a lot more than just reading books or listening to lectures. To become a skilled dog trainer, you need hands-on experience and mentoring from someone who is highly skilled in the profession. If you've found a way to get that experience by mentoring with an expert dog trainer outside of a classroom setting, that's great! If not, a professional dog trainer's school is probably your best option.

The second reason to attend a state certified school is credibility. If you're attending a school for dog trainers because you want the best shot at quickly finding a dog training job after graduation, then — like choosing a college — you need to choose a dog trainer's academy with a solid national reputation.

Read my articles about how to become a professional dog trainer and the top 5 myths about working as a dog trainer to learn more.

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