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How To Become A Certified Dog Trainer

How To Become A Certified Dog Trainer. Dog enthusiasts who want to change careers frequently think about a career in dog training. Dog training may be a very satisfying profession. You get to assist individuals and their pets live together happily and harmoniously while also spending your days surrounded by dogs.

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However, many individuals only contact a dog trainer when they are experiencing a problem. This could entail dealing with dogs who are reactive, have separation anxiety, or have other problems. Helping owners resolve these problems can be unpleasant and difficult, and successful outcomes are never promised. So, if you want to train dogs but your only experience is with your own dog or training it, know that you still have work to do.

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Job Description: What Does a Dog Trainer Do?

We’ve outlined everything here for you if you think you’d be a fantastic fit for a career in dog training but are unsure of what a dog trainer actually performs in their daily schedule.

You will teach dogs the fundamental commands and abilities they require in order to behave, act respectfully, and operate in society as a dog trainer or dog obedience trainer. Making sure that the people who own these animals are at ease and confident in giving their canines the leadership and direction they’ll need to prosper as well-behaved pets is another aspect of your work.

Your employment may involve everything from straightforward voice commands and house training to more complex activities like guiding the blind and helping with the crippled. Even some trainers specialize in teaching dogs how to navigate obstacle courses and triumph at dog competitions.

Given that people will always require someone to explain and instruct them on how to properly handle their pets, the options for dog training are essentially limitless.

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The following responsibilities are probably yours as a dog trainer:

  • Work on fundamental commands with dogs
  • Make sure owners are at ease and knowledgeable on how to control their dogs.
  • If possible, teach dogs for specialized jobs like hunting, emotional support, or service
  • Training discipline dogs when they misbehave and offer doable courses for both pets and their owners to finish.


Even though training animals, and training dogs in particular, can be a fulfilling vocation for which many people have a passion, it’s safe to say that you won’t be making the highest salaries.

The expected yearly pay for dog trainers, who are classed as animal trainers, is $33.600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it should be noted that dog trainers often make more money than other types of animal trainers.

In fact, some jurisdictions pay dog trainers an average yearly wage that is more than $40,000 over the national average.

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What’s superior?

Depending on the facility they work at, their level of expertise, and the unique talents they are able to instill in the animals they work with, dog trainers may earn a high salary.

Dog obedience teachers can earn up to $53,000 year and $150 per hour at the top end.

Annually National Average Salary: $38,230

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $31,860
Alaska $46,160
Arizona $32,490
Arkansas $39,040
California $41,890
Colorado $36,380
Connecticut $41,290
Delaware $40,920
Florida $39,380
Georgia $34,410
Hawaii $38,690
Idaho $21,490
Illinois $34,260
Indiana $28,460
Iowa $31,860
Kansas $49,550
Kentucky $38,490
Louisiana $31,580
Maine $36,500
Maryland $37,770
Massachusetts $40,730
Michigan $38,540
Minnesota $41,200
Mississippi $28,350
Missouri $31,910
Montana $35,250
Nebraska $28,270
Nevada $30,120
New Hampshire $39,710
New Jersey $43,710
New Mexico $32,840
New York $67,440
North Carolina $32,950
Ohio $38,480
Oklahoma $30,700
Oregon $40,680
Pennsylvania $33,840
South Carolina $31,490
South Dakota $37,090
Tennessee $28,430
Texas $32,750
Utah $29,320
Virginia $39,640
Washington $38,240
West Virginia $38,990
Wisconsin $36,930

Education Required to Be a Dog Trainer

At the moment, becoming a dog trainer does not involve any formal education or licensing. The truth is that if a dog trainer doesn’t have any kind of experience, they’re probably not going to succeed in the market. This may give you the impression that anyone with a dog whistle and a leash can become a trainer and flood the market.

That stated, you must pursue your own education if you want to be a successful dog trainer.

First, speak with the Association of Pet Trainers and the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers to learn more about what classes and training programs to enroll in, what research to perform, and how to get the necessary experience to work as a professional dog trainer.

To distinguish yourself from the other dog trainers in your market, think about completing classes on your own time and pursuing certifications.

When compared to dog trainers who lack certification or experience to offer their clients, those who hold CPDT qualifications and regularly pursue more education are significantly more successful.

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How To Become A Certified Dog Trainer

Train Your Own Dog

Training your own dog should be the initial step in your trip. Find a dog you can spend a lot of time with if you don’t already have one so you can establish a regular training schedule. Don’t just teach the fundamentals, such as “sit” or “down.” Teach more complex skills as well, such staying put despite the difficulty of distance and distractions. An great objective is to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. To really get into the technical facets of training, such as timing, rate of reinforcement, and reward placement, think about joining a dog sport with your dog. Finally, as you come across any problematic habits, alter them.

Your dog doesn’t need to be flawless at the end. However, you need practical expertise with whatever you might be required to teach because your potential future clients will need assistance with a variety of behaviors. All of that knowledge will help you develop your skills. Since training is a mechanical skill, you must practice on your own dog to get a high degree of competency before you can demonstrate it to students.

Apprentice With Other Dogs

Although it is beneficial to train your own dog, keep in mind that your pet loves you and will overlook any faults. Your dog friend won’t mind if you make a mistake when using goodies or if you unintentionally praise the incorrect behavior. Your customers, though, might not be so patient. A good dog trainer also has access to multiple training techniques. For instance, your dog may have learned to sit with ease using the lure-and-reward method, but a different dog may require a totally different strategy.

Working with dogs who aren’t your own is the most effective way to improve your abilities and put other techniques into practice. You might inquire if you can train your friends’ and relatives’ dogs. Or, you might inquire about working with dogs at nearby shelters or rescue groups. Being an apprentice to a successful dog trainer is an even better idea. In addition to giving you access to additional dogs, this will also allow you to have someone watch over your technique and direct your development. See if any local dog trainers in your area are willing to hire you as an apprentice or assistance by reaching out to them.

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Train People to Train Their Dogs

Most dog trainers don’t actually train dogs, which is a secret about dog training. They teach individuals. As a trainer, your primary responsibility is to instruct your clients on how to perform the exercises on their own. Dog trainers therefore require interpersonal skills. Even if you prefer animals over people, you still need to be able to inspire your customers, mold their talents, and celebrate their accomplishments.

Therefore, unless you’ve worked with human clients, it doesn’t matter how many dogs you’ve taught; you only have a portion of the required package. Once more, you can assist friends and family in training their own canines. Alternately, you might work as an apprentice for a seasoned trainer and get experience with their students.

Educate Yourself

Dogs and their motivations are the subject of many myths, yet contemporary dog training is grounded in the science of animal learning and behavior. Consequently, learning about those topics is a necessary aspect of being a dog trainer. For instance, it’s crucial to comprehend the four operant conditioning quadrants or the principles of classical conditioning. If you don’t comprehend the underlying concepts of your tactics, you won’t be able to solve problems for your clients or modify them for a certain circumstance.

You may increase your understanding about dog training by utilizing the many great resources available. For instance, training facilities like the Karen Pryor Academy provide a range of in-person and online dog training classes and webinars. Just make sure to check the instructor’s credentials to make sure their lectures are grounded in science. You can get a head start on your search by looking through the list of sources maintained by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

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Becoming A Certified Dog Trainer

You’re now prepared to start training dogs because you’ve worked with humans and dogs, taken the courses, and completed them. Join a reputable group first, such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Your clients will see that you are committed to your new career if you are a member of organizations like this one. Additionally, your subscription will give you access to data and programs that will keep you abreast of all the most recent developments in the field of training. Being listed in the organization’s trainer locator database is an added benefit that will make it easier for clients to discover you.

Investigate certification next. You can refer to oneself as a dog trainer without having any professional schooling or certification. However, why not show your clientele that you’ve put in the hard effort if you have? For instance, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers requires that you pass a 180-question multiple-choice exam in addition to completing a minimum of 300 hours of experience training dogs in the previous three years in order to receive the designation of Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed. With such high criteria, accreditation will guarantee that potential customers have confidence in your abilities and select you over other dog trainers.

Last but not least, keep learning! In order to become the greatest dog trainer you can be, it’s critical to stay up to date on the most recent research and methods in the field of dog training.

FAQs on How To Become A Certified Dog Trainer

How many years must you spend in school before you can train dogs?

Although certification programs and dog training classes are highly recommended, going to school is not a must to become a dog trainer.

How much money can you make training dogs?

Dog trainers make an average of $33,600 per year, but some have claimed to make as much as $53,000 per year ($150 per hour).

Where do dog trainers find employment?

Dog trainers can choose to work in different places. Trainers can work for themselves, at pet shops, veterinary clinics, 4-H organizations, community colleges, and other places.

What is a dog trainer referred to as?

Dog trainers are often known as animal trainers, dog obedience trainers, or obedience trainers.

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