Dog training is an exciting career that lets you spend a lot of time with dogs. Dog trainers correct animal behavior, get the dogs adjusted to their new homes and ease separation anxiety. You will require a lot of patience and a thirst for knowledge to become a successful dog trainer. Once you complete your basic training education, you can work with professional dog training organizations like K9 Answers Dog Training to hone your skills and gain experience. They offer various group and private training programs and dog walking services. Read on to know how you can become a successful dog trainer.
Responsibilities of a Dog Trainer
A dog trainer works with pet parents and teaches dogs to obey commands. They help prevent unwanted behaviors like loud barking at night, jumping on the furniture, or urinating in inappropriate places. Typically, dog trainers will work with dogs that are anxious, fearful, or hyperactive. They also provide training for law enforcement, hunting, dog sports, search and rescue, herding livestock, therapy, entertainment, and protection. Dog trainers use various methods like dominance-based training, the Koehler method, relationship-based training, clicker training, and positive reinforcement to train dogs. Below are some of the common responsibilities of dog trainers:
- Create a training plan for dogs and their owners
- Teach commands to both dogs and owners
- Help owners teach their dogs to behave well during walks when around other animals, riding in vehicles, and when meeting new people
- Teach owners to recognize signs of health problems or pain in their dogs
- Help identify and overcome dog behavioral problems
- Help owners learn effective training techniques
- Reinforce positive behavior in dogs
- Help and teach dogs to complete agility courses
What Skills Does a Dog Trainer Need?
Dog trainers will have to deal with various types of dogs. They need a special set of skills to succeed in their jobs. Some of the skills a dog trainer needs include:
Patience – You will have to use repetitive tasks to train dogs. You must be patient with them as they learn new things to ensure they practice the right behaviors. You may also have to try different techniques of training, depending on the type of behavior the dog needs to learn
Problem-Solving Skills – You should be able to solve different types of problems as a dog trainer. These problems can range from behavioral issues to the inability to perform tasks successfully. You must be able to identify the problem and find a solution to it.
Communication – As a trainer, you should be able to identify non-verbal cues. This will help you overcome challenges when developing training programs. You should also be able to set clear goals with the pet owner and understand their expectations. Communication skills become critical for understanding requirements if you are going to be training service animals.
How Can You Become a Dog Trainer?
Becoming a dog trainer requires a certain amount of learning and practice. Below are steps to learn the skills required to be a successful dog trainer:
Learning about the different training methods is the first step toward becoming a dog trainer. There are three ways to educate yourself to be a dog trainer – Self-Taught, Apprenticeship, Dog Training Courses and Schools.
Self-Taught – The Association of Professional Dog Trainers says that most trainers are self-taught. You can read up extensively about different dog behaviors and their modifications, attend seminars and webinars, conventions, and workshops, and mentor other trainers to become dog trainers yourself.
Apprenticeship – You can ask an established dog trainer if they can take you as an apprentice to learn various dog training techniques. As an apprentice, you will observe your mentor, take notes, and slowly assist with the training and classes. An apprenticeship allows you to develop your training skills under the supervision of an experienced trainer. The trainer can provide suggestions and feedback during the process. Apprenticeships range from six months to a year and give you hands-on experience.
Dog Training Courses and Schools – You can go to a dog training school or take up a formal course if you prefer a more guided and structured curriculum.
Once you complete your education, you can get certified as a professional trainer. Many associations provide dog trainer certifications. Choose the certification that suits you by going through the requirements. Some training programs will also offer certifications after you complete their courses. Since most employers hire people with certifications, getting one can be beneficial for your career.
Once your training is over, you will have to get experience as a trainer. You can volunteer with a local animal shelter or rescue or participate in an apprenticeship with a local trainer to gain experience. As you improve your skills, you can start getting clients of your own.
The only way to be a good dog trainer is to put your skills to use over and over again. Just gaining theoretical knowledge and training under others will not help you improve your skills as a trainer. The more you practice, the more you will be able to perform subtle training techniques with ease, such as grabbing treats from a treat bag quickly to reward a dog while holding its leash in one hand. Study dog behaviors constantly even after you complete your training and stay updated with new training techniques and strategies.
Once you complete your training and gain the confidence to become a trainer, you can start getting clients. Networking is a great way to get new clients. Attend group classes, seminars, and conferences to meet new people and introduce yourself. Not only will you meet potential clients at these events, but you will also get a chance to interact with established trainers and learn new things.
Training dogs may sound easy, especially if you are a dog lover. But it requires a lot of patience, discipline, and forethought. Having an idea of how you can begin your learning as a trainer and slowly developing your career can help you succeed in this profession.