Do you adore dogs? Do you like spending a lot of time with them? How about doing something that will be fun and a source of livelihood, as well? Exciting, right?
Dog training, as such, is a very rewarding career option. There are a lot of people, who do express an interest in this field, but, do not know how to go about it or get started. One thing that you need to understand and must keep in mind is that dog training is basically a service profession. You will be training dogs, but, you will be training dogs that belong to certain people. Therefore, in short, you will be working with people.
Dog trainers should be interactive, good learners, patient as well as understanding. As a dog lover, you will love and enjoy being around dogs. But, many times, it’s the people, who will get on your nerves. They will challenge your expertise, not do their homework and complain excessively. Don’t get worried, people will be people and nothing will beat the joy of training your ever increasing brigade of furry friends.
The following tips will help you become a great dog trainer. Explore them and arrive at your dream career.
1. Train Yourself by Reading More on the Subject
Dig in to the books that explain animal behavior. Books, published by professionals from the field, provide an immense pool of knowledge on how to effectively teach and communicate dogs. Some of the must-reads are listed below:
- Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide
Author- Brenda Aloff
- Don’t Shoot the Dog!
Author- Karen Pryor
- The Other End of the Leash
Author- Patricia McConnell
- Excel-Erated Learning
Author- Pamela J. Reid
- Culture Clash
Author- Jean Donaldson
The internet, DVDs and various videos will also be of a great help on the topic.
2. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
There are local animal shelters in every area. This is a natural path to follow and obviously, at some point of time, you’ll want to actually practice all the knowledge, gained in theory. Volunteering will not only provide you some good experiences, but will also polish your skills of dog handling as well as provide an insight into the behavior of unfamiliar dogs. You might have had plenty of dogs yourself, but, working with new dogs is a totally different territory.
3. Attend Dog Training Classes
We advise you to sign up for dog training classes in your area. If you think it’s too early to actually train dogs that are accompanied by their owners and you might end up getting judged, just sit out and observe. This will be an excellent chance to watch a professional dog trainer to exercise his/her teaching skills. If you have a dog of your own, bring it along. You will be able to actively participate in the session, this way.
4. Apprenticeship with a Dog Trainer
Since there aren’t many formal dog training institutes, it is best to apprentice under a professional dog trainer. It will be a perfect first-hand experience and you can clear all your doubts and ask a good number of questions to the trainer. You can watch your mentor teach classes, observe, learn and gradually assist in classes as well. This will be an enriching experience, where you are provided good guidance and feedback. Usually, apprenticeships last from 6 months to about a year.
5. Find Yourself a Job
After getting the theoretical and practical knowledge of dog training, enroll yourself with a training school or animal shelter in your locality. There are many organizations that hire trainers. Speak to the people in charge, check the official websites for job listings or visit the potential employers, in person.
Dog training is a very fulfilling and satisfying career option, if you are an animal person. Dogs are, anyway, delightful creatures. So, if one gets paid for spending time with them, what more can one want?
One thing to note is that many dog training schools promise positive reinforcement techniques, while, in reality, there may be a completely different picture. Therefore, if you are a dog trainer, please make sure that the methods and techniques followed are ethical and respect animal rights.