There was a thought regarding dog training that it was only about teaching dogs obedience commands, usually through the use of heavy-handed punishment-based techniques. It was viewed as somewhat of a luxury for pet parents and was often wrongly considered to be something so straightforward and simple to achieve that anyone could do it on their own without the help of a professional. Often the dog trainers use their knowledge of animal behavior to help people learn how to train their dogs.
People bring their dogs to trainers because they want to teach them basic obedience skills or correct behavioral problems, but some specialized trainers prepare dogs for roles as police dogs, guide dogs, or therapy dogs. The prospective dog trainers can get their training in a variety of ways. There are no colleges or professional degree programs that prepare people for careers in dog training, but some find specific courses helpful in understanding the science behind animal behavior. Most psychological courses provide some insight into the principles of animal learning like reinforcement, punishment, motivation, and conditioning.
Beyond independent study, dog trainers can further their training by completing a course with a school that educates trainers, or by taking on an apprenticeship with an experienced trainer. There are certain programs that teach trainers how to design classes create instructional materials, and work with clients proves to be beneficial as well. They recommend volunteering at animal shelters to gain experience handling and working with a wide variety of unfamiliar dogs of different breeds, backgrounds, and temperaments.
The time it takes to become a dog trainer depends on the path one takes in their training. It can take several weeks or several months to complete a training program or six months to a year to complete an apprenticeship.
The median yearly pay for animal trainers in the United States was $25,270 in 2012. The lowest ten percent of earners in this field made less than $17,580 and the top ten percent made more than $49,840 that year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of animal trainers in the United States will grow by 15 percent between 2012 and 2020, faster than the average growth for all occupations. The BLS expects that demand for animal care services will grow over the next several years, and that job prospects will be good for animal care workers such as dog trainers.
Long-term career prospects
At the beginning of their careers, dog trainers may work for established trainers who own their own businesses. With experience, trainers with strong business skills may open their own training schools for dogs or even teach courses for prospective dog trainers.
Areas of employment
Dog trainers may be employed by large pet stores or dog training academies, or they may work independently. If you volunteer at an animal shelter or apprentice with an experienced trainer, you may be able to find job leads through the contacts you make in these positions. If you wish to work independently, you will need to advertise your services and network with the animal care community in your area, including shelters and veterinarians.
Organizations like the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors offer helpful resources for those interested in becoming dog trainers. You will get to learn more about becoming a dog trainer by talking with trainers, veterinarians, and other animal care workers in your community.