Whether you’re a dog owner after training for your pet or you fancy yourself as a bit of a teacher but would much prefer to spend your days with disobedient pooches than unruly children there will be a dog training course for you!
To work as a dog trainer, you will need…
A love of dogs: An obvious one really, this is not a career you would opt for if you are fearful or not very fond of dogs. You should be comfortable in handling them, communicating with them and managing them when they might be particularly disobedient or disinterested in your class.
Patience: Like any student, the speed and abilities to learn will vary amongst your pupils and you must have a calm and nurturing nature to continue reinforcing what you are teaching without losing your temper or getting frustrated. Don’t forget, as a dog trainer, part of your job is to train the human owners in how to recreate the obedience you are showing them when they are at home and do not have professionals to guide them.
To expect to get your hands dirty: This is by no means a job for somebody who is scared to break a nail. Part and parcel of being a dog trainer will include picking up doggy mess during classes, touching powdery reward treats, trekking through muddy fields when outdoor training and constantly mopping up any accidental leaks, sick or spit that might occur during an excitable session.
A passion for teaching: They may be dogs but they are still your pupils and as such the same joy, satisfaction and pride should be what you feel when they pick up what is being taught to them. If you feel a genuine pleasure at the thought of your knowledge and expertise being passed onto others as well as the above criteria - then dog training is likely the perfect career for you.
Types of dog training: puppy socialisation
Owners can enroll their dogs into a variety of training courses that fall under the umbrella of ‘dog training’ from its puppy years all the way into adult life. One example is puppy socialisation. Every new owner wants their pup to be confident and courteous around their fellow four legged friends to prepare them for a lifetime of encounters when walking in the park or to the shops – and puppy socialisation classes do just this. These are usually shorter than your average doggy class (they are just young after all!) and will include playtime and interaction with dogs of various other breeds and ages from a few months up to around one year old. This is the equivalent of a child’s nursery environment for the pups and will teach them to share toys, be respectful of their classmates and all under the supervision of the trainer running the class.
Once a little older and more responsive, many owners will take their pooches to a basic dog training class in order to have the basic commands learnt quickly and efficiently. These can be taken from a year old all the way up to adult life (for a rescue dog that may need a refresher when leaving kennels for example). Such classes will teach you have to interact and bond with your dog whilst teaching them obedience and good behaviour at the same time. Examples of commands your dog should have got to grips with within eight weekly training classes include ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’, ‘heel’, ‘fetch’ and a toileting command which should avoid those unfortunate accidents in the home.
Some owners may have show dogs that will need to perform tricks and certain activities in order to win first prize in the competitions and for this they will sometimes use advanced dog training classes. Of course you do not need to be rearing a show dog in order to take these; you may just wish to show off how clever your dog is to your friends and family! Advanced training will include obstacle courses, agility training and heightened accuracy in the obedience of distance commands (the basic commands as above but with substantial distance between owner and dog, with more outside distractions that they will learn to ignore).
Longer dog training courses will teach you all you need to know in order to successfully handle and train our canine counterparts. They will generally include all of the following elements; dog obedience, dog psychology, dog training and so on. There are more specialised and specific classes concentrating on canine aggression and agility for those wishing to focus on one area of this industry.
Make it a career
There is a vast choice of career paths that you could go if you want to get some dog training qualifications of your own under your belt. Anything from teaching weekly classes in the local village hall, to canine handling in the police force for drug or explosive detection, to working with the Army who often use dogs as protection and guards in threatening situations, and the fire service who sometimes will use these incredible pooches to find signs of life in a burning building, or in mountain and cave rescue searches – the possible dog handler careers are endless!
By Telsha Arora