Your guide to becoming a qualified dog trainer
If you love dogs (and their owners!) then becoming a dog trainer could be the perfect job for you. There are several different types of dog training careers from running puppy classes for people and their pets to training guide dogs or medical support dogs for specific tasks. There are some key skills required to be a successful dog trainer:
- Good social skills
- Understanding of behaviour in dogs
- The ability to develop skills and techniques
- Understanding of the legal aspects
- Independently accredited qualification
Good social skills
When training a dog, it is not just our four-legged friend involved, there is also a relationship with the dog’s owner to build and develop. Training a dog can be a long process in some cases, so you need to be able to develop a good rapport with both dog and owner to be able to get the best results. You will also need to adapt your style to allow for every dog and client being different and having their own unique personalities and motivations.
Understanding of behaviour in dogs
This is essential if you are going to be a dog trainer. When training a dog, they are required to listen, communicate and remember and so you need to be able to understand how they do this and what motivates each dog that you work with. This knowledge can be gained through training courses, books and of course, experience, as you work with more and more dogs.
Develop skills and techniques
Take time to learn different skills and techniques, practice them and build up experience that will enable you to become a successful and confident dog trainer. This confidence is an important part of working with dogs as they will respond better to a confident trainer, but it will also be important in developing relationships with existing and new clients who are looking to put their trust in you.
Understand the legal aspects
There are several laws which exist which are important for you as a dog trainer to understand. These include the Animal Welfare Act (2006) and Dangerous Dogs Act (1991).
You can see more information on this on the Kennel Club website.
It is also important to understand the legal aspects of running a business, such as data protection.
Another essential aspect is the need for adequate insurance cover. So, should something happen to an animal, a member of the public or their property as a result of your business actions you will have peace of mind that you are protected. So, you can be covered if a third party makes a claim against you if their dog has an accident and suffers an injury during one of your classes. Cover can also include your equipment in event that it gets damaged at a training session.
Independently Accredited Qualification
Formal qualifications are not necessary to become a dog trainer but will always help to set you apart from other dog trainers and to attract new clients. A good starting point is the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, a voluntary organisation and whose members are accredited. There are a range of courses available either at colleges or through distance learning, all of which will give you the training and qualification to start your career as a dog trainer.