FREE dog training advice from a pro!

How to Become a Professional Dog Trainer

Follow these three steps to start a successful dog training career.

Training a dog... How hard can it be? If I want to be a Professional Dog Trainer, I can just hang my shingle and get to work, right?

Well, technically that's true. Unfortunately, dog training is currently an unregulated profession. But, realistically, to work as a successful full time dog trainer, you must have skills and knowledge that provide significant value to your clients. Otherwise, while you may get a few clients in the short term, your reputation will quickly run you out of business.

If you've taken a realistic look at the challenges a Professional Dog Trainer faces each day and you still want to pursue a dog training career, follow these steps to get your career off the ground:

STEP 1: Read at least ten high-quality books that thoroughly explain a variety of dog training methods.

Books are an excellent way to begin educating yourself about dog training. A few books I recommend are "How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend" by the New Skeete Monks, "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell, and "Clicker Training for Obedience" by Morgan Spector.

While some people recommend studying only "all-positive" dog training methods, I think it's a good idea to educate yourself on a wide variety of training methods. You may not use every method that you explore, but you should feel confident that the methods you do choose are based on educated decisions that you've actively made. And remember, as a professional dog trainer, you'll work with a wide variety of dogs and behavior issues that will require an arsenal of different training methods. Make sure you're well-equipped to deal with every potential problem you'll encounter, from severe anxiety issues to dominance aggression.

STEP 2: Train every dog you can get your hands on - for FREE.

Train your own dogs. Train your relatives' and neighbors' dogs. When you're first getting started as a Professional Dog Trainer, offer to train every dog you can, and do it for free. Focus on teaching these dogs simple skills, like how to sit on command or behave nicely on a leash. Once you become a professional, you'll use these basic obedience skills to solve a variety of behavior problems.

Before you decide whether you want to become a Professional Dog Trainer, you should work with at least 10 - 15 dogs that are not your own. This is the easiest way to get a real life perspective on the challenges of working as a professional dog trainer. You'll get to experience your reactions to the range of different dog and human temperaments with which you'll work. You'll also see whether you enjoy the creativity it takes to develop a unique learning plan for each dog.

STEP 3: Get certified from a state-recognized Professional Dog Training School.

Now that you've read enough books and worked with enough dogs to get a feel for the life of a Professional Dog Trainer, you can decide whether you're willing to invest the time and money it takes to work as a full time dog trainer. Professional Dog Training schools, like Triple Crown Academy School for Dog Trainers and the Tom Rose School, are expensive and they require a significant dedication of time. But, these schools are really the best way to prepare yourself to become a Professional Dog Trainer.

When you choose a dog trainer's academy, only consider schools that are state certified, so you know you're working with a credible institution. State-certified schools are regulated by the boards that oversee other trade schools, like those for mechanics and hair stylists. The curriculas are approved and instructors are generally very experienced. Also, if the school you choose is state certified, you'll have the option to finance your eduction through a standard student loan program.


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