A career in dog obedience training allows business-savvy dog lovers to turn their passion into a well-paying job. With over 77 million households in America having one or more dogs, there is no denying the immense demand for dog obedience trainers.
Moreover, this demand will only get higher as the number of dog owners inevitably increases. Now, while having a passion for working with dogs does come in handy on the job, it is not the only prerequisite.
There are a handful of technical and business-related considerations that must be made to enjoy success on the job. If you find yourself on the path to becoming a dog obedience trainer, the guide below should familiarize you with everything you need to know to get started.
What Is a Dog Obedience Trainer
Dog obedience training is an umbrella term. It involves utilizing a series of techniques to educate and modify a dog’s behavior positively. To do this safely, effectively, and humanely, a dog obedience trainer needs to understand the fundamental blocks of dog psychology.
Dog obedience trainers play huge roles in the lives of the dogs they train and, by extension, the owners. While there is plenty of education and certification avenues for dog obedience trainers, it is common for professionals in the field to be self-taught.
A great deal of dog obedience trainers happens to be dog lovers and enthusiasts who decided to study dog behavior and the fundamentals of how animals learn on their own.
What Do Dog Obedience Trainers Do?
As mentioned above, “dog obedience trainer” is an umbrella term for training techniques geared toward dog education and positive behavioral modification. Regarding actual duties, the roles and responsibilities of a dog trainer may differ from case to case.
Below are some common scenarios wherein the expertise of a dog obedience trainer is usually called upon:
- Carrying out basic obedience training for puppies
- Training companion dogs in duties specific to their situation
- Training search and rescue dogs
- Carrying out obedience training for dogs who are entered into competitions.
Communication, patience, and reinforcement are key for a dog obedience trainer.
How To Become a Dog Obedience Trainer
Most states do not have laws that specify that dog obedience trainers must be formally trained or certified before they can practice. That said, some extremely specialized fields in the profession may require more formal education.
Thankfully, both options are available. Those who wish to be self-taught can do so freely, while those who wish to attend a formal training program will find no shortage of options.
Dog Trainer Programs
Dog trainer programs usually take less than a year to complete and can be taken online. Below are some of the most popular choices to consider.
- Animal Behavior College (ABC) - At Animal Behavior College, students acquire the theoretical and practical knowledge they need to become certified dog obedience trainers. The theoretical aspects of the course can be completed online, while the hands-on aspect is executed through an externship program.
- Karen Pryor Academy - Karen Pryor Academy provides excellent online classes, work experience, and high-quality mentorship. The program is very thorough and takes six months to complete.
- CATCH Canine Trainers Academy - Just like the other entries on the list, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy also provides excellent online courses along with hands-on workshops for accumulating real-world experience.
Dog Obedience Trainer Certification - Why Get Certified?
While certification isn’t an absolute necessity for most dog obedience trainers, there is no denying that getting certified does have its perks. Below are a few reasons why many professionals in the field choose to get certified even though it is not state-mandated.
- Credibility - For starters, certification lends credibility to any dog obedience trainer. This can come in particularly handy when seeking employment.
- Mentorship and Networking - Certification bodies and professional associations are great places to connect with other professionals in the field. Here you learn new things, improve your craft, and get inspired by other professionals.
- Resources - Certification bodies also provide access to key resources and innovative technology. Furthermore, they are invaluable for emphasizing continuing education and constant improvement.
There are a few alternatives to consider regarding certification for dog obedience trainers. Ultimately, they all offer enough benefits to make them worthwhile, and which one you choose is down to personal preference.
Below are some of the most noteworthy bodies to choose from.
- Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) - Here, professionals can get the CPDT-KA (Knowledge-Assessed) or the CPDT-KSA (Knowledge and Skills Assessed).
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) - Here, professionals can get the Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant certification (ACDBC) or the Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) certification.
- International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) - The two classes of certification offered by the IACP include the Certified Dog Trainer certification and the Certified Dog Trainers Advanced Certification.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dog obedience trainers earn an annual average salary of $36,240. This is considered part of the general “animal trainers” classification. Professionals in this field may earn much higher than this figure if, for example, they work in states with higher averages than others.
Work experience can also affect how much a dog obedience trainer earns, as more experienced trainers usually have the leverage to charge higher. Lastly, specific industry/ work environment can also be a factor.
Private clients, for example, may pay as high as $150 per hour for obedience training for their dogs.
Regarding career projection, the BLS estimates that the demand for dog obedience trainers is set to increase by a stunning 22 percent, which is well above the average for other occupations. The current figures are also encouraging.
Dara from the American Pets Products Association shows that Americans already spend about $10 billion on dog training, walking, and sitting needs.