14 Requirements for Becoming a Dog Trainer

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14 Requirements for Becoming a Dog Trainer

by Rodrigo Trigosso

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a dog trainer? Here you will find the requirements you should fulfill and the time it may take you to make your dream come true.

Before considering a career in dog training, you should consider some important requirements. You must be aware that loving dogs is not enough to be a successful trainer. You must be proficient in dog behavior, learning theories, behavior modification, first aids (both human and canine), marketing and business management.

In addition, you may want to train dogs for competitions, such as Schutzhund, Agility, Mondio Ring, Freestyle, etc. In this case, you should have a strong knowledge of rules and competitive procedures.

To make a long story short, the list below explains you the 17 most important requirements you must fulfill to be a dog trainer:

1. You must be passionate about working with dogs. Otherwise you will be very unhappy with your job. Taking away exceptional cases, dog training is not a high-salary career. So, you should not expect to compensate frustrations with money. That's why you really have to be passionate about working with dogs. Of course, this passion can only come if you love dogs. If you don't love dogs and are not passionate about working with them, just look for another job.

2. You must feel comfortable working with people. Feeling comfortable working with people is as being comfortable working with dogs. That's because the job of a dog trainer involves teaching people as much as teaching dogs, or even more. If you don't teach people how to handle their dogs in different situations, then they won't be able to control their pets. As a consequence, your dog training business is not going to receive any good publicity.

3. You should be respectful and kind with both people. Acting in an arrogant manner toward other trainers, dog owners, animal behaviorists or anyone, can't help you. Arrogant behavior does not create word of mouth publicity. Even worse, people who attended a training class with an arrogant instructor, tend to not go to the same place when they need help again. So, being polite and respectful is part of developing your dog training business.

4. You should be respectful and kind with animals. This point needs no further explanation. Nobody wants his dog be mistreated by a harsh trainer.

5. Develop teaching skills. Since you are going to teach people how to handle and train their own dogs, you must have some teaching skills. There are lots of good trainers that don't succeed because they can't teach people how to train their dogs.

6. Be patient. Patience is perhaps the most important skill a dog trainer must master. Dogs can't be trained in a couple of minutes. So, you need to be patient to allow the dog (and the owner) learn at their own pace.

7. Sense of humor. You are going to find a lot of problems during training sessions. However, many of those problems are so funny that they deserve a dose of humor. Having good sense of humor allows you to not get buried under a 'problematic job' and helps you to be creative when solving a behavior issue.

8. Be honest. You have to tell the dog owner what really happens. Not what he wants to hear. There are problems that can't be solved by training and, if you face one of those problems, you should inform the dog owner. On the other hand, there could be some issues that you can't handle. Be honest with the dog owner. If you can't address an issue (for instance, aggression) recommend another dog trainer who can.

9. Never underestimate the skills of other dog trainers. It does not matter if they use old techniques that you don't approve. Every dog trainer has his own method and nobody should be underestimated by the way he trains. Of course, you may disagree with other dog trainers, but never underestimate them.

10. Learn about several dog training techniques, even the old ones. Knowing the pros and cons of each technique will let you choose the right ones. This does not mean you should try every technique you've heard about. But reading books and watching videos about different techniques may teach something new and improve your training skills.

11. Keep up to date on the science of animal behavior and learning theories. Dog training is not a science but it is based on some scientific principles. As a good dog trainer you have to be up to date on animal behavior and learning theories to take advantage of recent discoveries.

12. Read a lot about dog training, but don't believe all you read. There are lots of myths and hypes in dog trainer. As a dog trainer you should keep some skepticism and critical thinking.

13. Learn about marketing, publicity and business management. If you are a professional dog trainer, then you have to manage your dog training business. Otherwise you are not a pro.

14. Learn about dog nutrition, health and care. Put a lot of attention of dog first-aids because you will need them sometime. Besides, learn about management of kennels, doggy daycare, etc.

Rodrigo Trigosso is a biologist and professional dog trainer. To learn more about how to become a dog trainer, visit his website, the Dog Training Tutorial, which provides objective and reliable information on dog training and behavior.

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