How to Become a Dog Trainer

How to Become a Dog Trainer

Author WDF Staff


It is not uncommon for dog lovers to look into having a career that involves working with dogs. Being a dog trainer is one of the best things a dog lover can do. You will spend your days working with dogs and achieve the feeling of joy and happiness when you see a dog developing and learning new things.

Becoming a dog trainer is not the easiest process. People interested in this career often have no idea what conditions they have to fulfill or where to look for detailed information. One of the things you have to keep in mind is - dog trainers often work with dogs that developed behavioral issues. That is not something that can be easily dealt with. You have the be an expert, and even then, success is not guaranteed. If you are interested in this career path, we can tell you more details about how to become a dog trainer.

Work with your dog

The first step on your path of becoming a dog trainer is to work with your dog. Teaching basic commands all dogs should know is an excellent way to start. However, great dog trainers should know how to successfully perform advanced training and teach a dog to stay in place, for example. Advanced skills will require you to include distractions. A great example is teaching a dog to stay while you walk away, and there are distractions the dog would typically pay attention to.

dachshund during training

Another good way of perfecting your skills as a dog trainer is by taking up dog sports. Dog sports will require you to sync with your dog and teach them some advanced commands. Dog sports will also allow you to perfect the mechanical part of dog training, like reward placement, timing, and reinforcement rate.

If your dog has any behavioral issues, like separation anxiety, make sure you train that behavior out of your dog. These types of behavioral problems will become a part of your everyday job, so making sure you are proficient in dealing with them is necessary. Making sure your dog overcomes that issue is a great way to start.

Work with other dogs

Working with your dog can be considered a good starting place, but keep in mind, your dog loves you, and they will quickly go past any mistakes you make. Your dog will be a lot more tolerable than your client’s dogs. Nevertheless, starting and perfecting your training skills with your dog is a great place to start. The second step would be working with other people’s dogs.

If you have friends or family members with dogs, ask them if you could have some sessions with their dogs. See how you would do train them and assess your skills. Different dogs might need different approaches, so make sure you know various ways of teaching specific behavior.

rottweiler during training

PRO TIP: Dog trainers are not stingy with sharing their experience. It is a good idea to search for your local dog trainers and contact them for an apprenticeship. We are sure some would be willing to show you a few things and even let you assist.

Sharpen your people skills

Dog trainers will have to work with people as much as they have to work with dogs; perhaps even more. You should sharpen your people skills if you want to become a dog trainer just as much as you need to sharpen your dog training technique. Working and educating dog owners is an essential part of this job.

Dog training needs to be repeated. Otherwise, the dog will forget everything they have learned. The best way to make sure a trained dog remains trained is to make sure their owners know how to properly work with them. Be prepared to educate dog owners on how to train their dogs.

One of the most effective training techniques is clicker training. You can read more about it here - Getting started with clicker training.

Education is important

Like with any other profession in the world, education is easily the most important thing. There are many misconceptions about dog training and motivations that drive dogs, so make sure you go through your basics. If you want to be efficient, you will need to adapt or improvise when some training techniques don’t work. You won’t be able to do that if you are not familiar with basic dog training principles.

two dobermans traning

Modern dog training is based on studied animal behavior sciences, experience, and learning. There are different resources online where you can broaden your knowledge and learn more about dog training. However, it is vital to check the source of information and make sure they are a trustworthy source. A great place to start might be the Karen Pryor Academy.


Certification is not necessary to be a dog trainer. However, having such a document will often be the thing that gives your potential clients confidence in your skills. You can work with dogs without any certification, but if you have done all the steps, why not get a dog trainer certificate.

The first step would be joining an organization like the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. This organization has more than 6.000+ members worldwide and will provide many benefits to its members. You will get access to other trainers, knowledge and will be placed on their dog trainer map where future clients can reach you more easily.

There are two conditions to become a certified dog trainer. You will have to accumulate at least 300 hours of dog training experience over the past 3 years and pass the written exam. The exam is 180 multiple-choice questions. It will require a lot of work to pass the exam, but it will be worth it in the end. If you fulfill these conditions, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers will give you your well-earned certification.

World Dog Finder team

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