If you love dogs and it is your passion then it is time to seriously think of becoming a full-time dog trainer. This is not a joke. Although, dog training is not a regulated profession you can learn few skills and get professional help to become a proficient dog trainer.
How To Become A Professional Dog Trainer?
The good thing is that you adore dogs and probably have a dog of your own so you have already made a head start towards that shining career.
This is the stepping stone of success from which you can build on from being a die hard dog lover to a great dog trainer. Follow these best practices to sharpen your rough edges and get into the grove to lead a happy professional career as a dog trainer.
Steps To Become A Dog Trainer
1. Read A Lot About Doggie Behavior
You can start off by reading good books that give you an insight about doggie behavior. Some of them include:
- The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia B. McConnell
- Culture Clash: A New Way of Understanding the Relationship Between Humans and Domestic Dogs by Jean Donaldson
- Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
- The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller
Apart form these books you should also take training from a reputed animal behavior college located near your vicinity. For clicker trainer we recommend you to join Karen Pryor Academy as it will give you a golden opportunity to get in person training. Also watch YouTube videos of dogs to get up close to their behavior.
2. Volunteer At An Animal Shelter
It is great to get exposure by volunteering at an animal shelter and get first-hand experience of being around doggies. If the employees over there can help you out while you get up close to the furry friends it would be great. If you have an option approach a positive-reinforcement trainer who offers you an internship or mentor ship as you get lot of exposure by working up close with the dogs while also getting proper training and experience that will come handy when you start off as a professional.
3. Furnish Your People Skills
We know that you loves dog and that is the very reason you want to become a professional dog trainer. But don’t forget that you will also have to deal with the dog owners, who are by the way humans and so apart from dog training skills you will have to learn some people skills. After getting enough experience, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Whether you enjoy puppy socialization classes or the basic ones? Do you love the basic classes but not the advanced skills one? Are you interested in agility dog training? The last thing is to evaluate whether you would like to become a business owner. If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur then you would require basic marketing and bookkeeping skills and not to forget registering your business. If you are not interested in starting off your business then look for opportunities from companies that are looking to hire entry-level dog trainers.
4. Set Up Your Business
If you want to start your own dog training business you need to take the following steps:
- Get your business name registered along with procurement of business license
- Get your Federal Business Tax ID (also known as EIN, a social security number for your business entity)
- Setting up social media
- Business cards setup
- Hiring an accountant or procuring a financial software
- Defining client contracts and policies
- Procuring dog trainer liability insurance
- Fixing your fees and packages
- Deciding a place to hold classes or private sessions
This is not an exhaustive list but just an overview of what needs to be done. So better start reading books that consist of tips of starting an actual dog training business.
5. Get Professional Memberships & Certifications
Although dog training is not regulated, you can get a certification by taking private sessions and group class hours called as Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed certification that is a proof of your experience as a dog trainer by attending a lengthy exam. Apart from this, it is recommended to join other professional groups for developmental opportunities, networking or even getting liability insurance. Whatever path you undertake it is important to keep in touch with fellow trainers so that in case you get struck somewhere they are there to guide you.
Keep a vigilant eye while attending dog training classes that may not only enhance your skills and knowledge but may make you a great dog trainer that others love to follow!! So why wait? Start right now and utilize your passion for dogs to transform yourself into a full-fledged dog trainer!!