6 Places to Get a (Fairly) Formal Education In Dog Training

6 Places to Get a (Fairly) Formal Education In Dog Training

With so many different resources about how to become a dog trainer out there, it is difficult to pick which program is going to provide you with a quality, up-to-date education on dog training. Below I’m listing a few programs that I’ve either taken myself or have had trusted friends take and enjoy. These programs will teach you how to train dogs with lessons on the science of animal learning and training.

If you already know how to train dogs, but you’re interested in a course that will teach you how to run a successful dog training business, check out my 12-week Start Your Own Dog Training Business Course.

Have a favorite program you’d like to add to the list? Leave it in the comments section below!


1) The Academy for Dog Trainers

In 1999, Jean Donaldson founded the Academy for Dog Trainers. Jean Donaldson’s book, The Culture Clash, was ranked #1 for training and behavior by The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. This school for dog trainers is one of the most highly acclaimed schools out there for professional dog trainers.  The Academy for Dog Trainers now has many instructors including several world renowned dog behavior experts.

The Academy is virtual so you can take the courses from anywhere with a laptop. They include weekly webinars and discussions to further develop a sense of community and utilize video coaching to practice training mechanics. If you’re interested in getting a thorough dog training education from the ground up, this is a great choice.

2) Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning With Animals Course

I took this course a few years ago and I would deem this as an absolute necessity for all animal trainers as it dives into the basic principles of learning theory, applied behavior analysis, and science-based animal training. This course is college-level and has a great online community forum to discuss ideas and work through the program.

Homework is assigned out weekly and the short-answer format allows you to explain your logic behind your answers. The instructor’s assistant then evaluates your answer and gives you a few more possibilities or scenarios to think about. In the end, you take a short answer exam that brings together all the information you learned in the course. I have no doubt that this single course contributed greatly to my ability to handle and understand animal behavior issues. This is truly a great critical thinking course that all animal trainers should take.

3) IAABC Courses

Or more specifically, the Animal Behavior Consulting Principles & Practice is a great place for you to get a comprehensive overview of what it takes to take on behavior cases. You start with the basics of animal learning, applied behavior analysis, and what it means to be an animal behavior consultant.

“The IAABC Animal Behavior Consulting Principles & Practice Course is a unique twelve-week, multi-module course providing a comprehensive overview of the many facets of animal behavior consulting for all species.” You’ll learn from several different instructors, all of which are well-respected as experts within our industry, throughout the course which allows you to grasp different perspectives on animal behavior as you go through it.

Be sure to let them know The Modern Dog Trainer sent you on the form if you register.

6) Karen Pryor Academy

The Karen Pryor Academy or KPA is extremely well-known in the dog training industry. They are the go-to experts for clicker training around the world. As a participant, you’re also provided with marketing materials and lesson plans to help your dog training business get off the ground.

This course sticks to clicker training foundations and advanced level skills. Something to keep in mind is that while I love applying clicker training concepts to address and change a dog’s emotional state for behavior issues such as reactivity, this is something I learned from mentors and isn’t something that is taught in the academy.

If you’re considering training service dogs, training trick dogs, or sticking to basic obedience training, their Dog Trainer Professional Program is definitely a great course to take.

5) Victoria Stilwell Academy

The Victoria Stilwell Academy teaches dog training foundations as well as how to manage and communicate with clients and run a successful business. VSA’s Dog Trainer Course requires two trips for “intensives” where you’ll test out your new training knowledge and skills under the supervision of instructors and mentors. This course only occurs a couple times a year, but is hosted in the USA and the UK.

You can see starting course dates and learn more about her program here.

6) Become a Pro Dog Trainer by Sarah Filipiak

Sarah’s new 6-week online course walks you through the core principles of professional dog training. She teaches the foundations you’ll need to know to train dogs. You’ll also learn about dog body language and how to choose which training technique based on the dog in front of you. This course comes with a 6-week dog training course curriculum you can start using immediately and several handouts.

Have a favorite program you’d like to add to the list? Leave it in the comments section below!


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If you’re thinking about starting your own dog training business, take advantage of this free eBook to avoid some detrimental mistakes that many dog trainers make.

Are you spending your time on the right tasks to grow your business? Are you worried about making continuous income throughout the year? Will your business be sustainable for years to come? Prepare yourself with the help of this eBook!

Tips for Becoming a Full-time Dog Trainer

Tips for Becoming a Full-time Dog Trainer

This article was provided by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers to accompany our brand new podcast! Learn from professional dog trainers who have made the transition into full-time business owners before. We’re sharing our tips for those who are just starting out. Don’t forget to listen to the first episode of The Modern Dog Trainer Podcast!

what its like to be a full-time dog trainer

So You Want to be a Dog Trainer?

  • Love for dogs? Check!
  • Want to make your own schedule and work autonomously? Check!
  • Desire to make money doing something fulfilling? Check!

Sounds like you want to be a dog trainer! The good news is that dog training can be a lucrative and fulfilling career if you can make it! The bad news is, there are some barriers to entry with choosing a career as a dog trainer.

Becoming a Full-time Dog Trainer

If you’re still reading, it sounds like you’re ready to take the plunge. And as a board member of the leading independent certifying agency for dog training professionals, I believe that you can do it. But before you begin, you should start thinking about some of the things you need to do to be successful. And while you’ve likely thought about stocking up on treats, leashes, and training collars; you have likely not thought about some of the intangibles that are worth your consideration before making the jump into full-time dog training. Things like:

  1. Your schedule will be all over the place.  As a dog trainer, you are in the service industry. People in the service industry work when their clientele do not. For a dog trainer, that means nights and weekends. Think about your current schedule, and think about how that may change when you become a dog trainer. If you have loads of commitments, hobbies, and engagements that happen during night and weekend hours; are you willing to give up that life?
  2. A good support system.  Maybe it is a spouse who is willing to support you as you leave to teach that 7:30pm class or book your Saturday full of clients. Or a healthy savings account that you can dip into in the months before you make it big time. Either way, you need something to fall back on as this can be an emotionally and financially draining profession.

Dog training is very often a second career for people. And many are disappointed to find that after 20 years of building a livable salary for themselves working at their first career, they struggle to make ends meet as a dog trainer. But think about it this way: you may have had a successful career in one field, but entering the dog training field, you are starting back at entry level. That may mean taking jobs that are not your dream job just to work with dogs. . . and doing it at an entry level salary. If you persist, it gets better. . . we promise. But you’ve got to make a name for yourself before you start making big bucks! Oh, and those big bucks we’re talking about. . . probably just a mid-range salary for someone coming out of the business world.

  1. A love for people. Here’s a biggie. Dog trainers never get into this field thinking about how much they love working with people. They want to help dogs. But here’s the truth. . . dog’s don’t pay your salary, their owners do! So, in order to be a successful dog trainer, you have to be good with dogs and GREAT with people.   And many times you may feel like you are in sales, you’re selling yourself and dog training more than you are just training a dog. So brush up on that etiquette, you’ve got people to meet!

So after all of this do you still want to be a dog trainer? Well, here’s the good news: it’s a fun job for the right individual.  And very fulfilling. If becoming a dog training professional intrigues you, we encourage you to check out our website at www.ccpdt.org for more information.

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How To Set Yourself Apart From The Pack Of “Trainers”

How To Set Yourself Apart From The Pack Of “Trainers”

 dog training -min

Anyone can be a trainer. How are you setting yourself apart?

Wondering why the word “trainers” is in quotation marks? That’s because we want to emphasize the fact that anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. There are no regulations in the dog training industry – not even minimum standards that must be met. That means anyone off the street who decides he wants to train dogs can call himself a “dog trainer.” It is unfortunate, but it is true.

When you’re in the midst of starting your own dog training business, there are some ways you can show potential customers that you’re different and can provide more value than other trainers in the area.

Provide (Free) Value

Before bringing a stranger into their home to work with their beloved dog, owners want to know who you are and why you’re better. What better way than to share your knowledge with them? Setting up an email marketing campaign will help you connect with your potential clients by giving them information they need and want. Create a free email newsletter through MailChimp with our tutorial and then get started helping out your clients! The most important part of this concept is to allow customers to volunteer their emails and provide them with information they want – not what you think they ought to know.

Walk a mile in their shoes.”

Provide More Than Your Competitors

Clients are always interested in getting the best bang for their buck. Find ways to provide them more for their money. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a special educational email newsletter or ebook just for clients.
  • Create follow-up pdf handouts that they can print and tape to their fridge.
  • Offer monthly seminars that are 1-2 hours long for a small fee, but that are exclusive for current clients.
  • Offer unique services such as training walks or outings for clients who don’t have time to train their own dogs every day.
  • Host a monthly or bi-weekly “yappy hour” for clients whose dogs are social.

The possibilities are endless! You just have to get creative. The ultimate goal is to help your human client’s lives return to a peaceful and normal state.

State Your Mission Clearly

As modern dog trainers, you need to make it clear why you’re different from the man off the street who has no education. Make your mission clear on your website and marketing materials. Briefly explain why you became a dog trainer (don’t forget the part about helping families), discuss the science that drives your methods, and share the results your clients have achieved with your training.

Promote the End Result

In the end, clients are looking for training that will fix their problem. If the behavior issue is driving them insane, they are usually desperate to find a quick fix – and we can’t blame them! Everyone gets a dog to improve their lives, not to increase their stress or anxiety. Make it clear that your methods work and share with them the end goal you are looking to achieve. Training can be fun and games, but will it truly help them with their situation in the end.

Bonus Idea: Make a referral program for existing clients. Entice clients to share information about your services to their friends and reward them for promoting your business!

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