Schools to Become a Dog Trainer: How to Choose

In dog trainer school, students learn to teach dogs specific commands such as stay, sit or rollover. The overarching goal is to learn to how positive reinforcement can help dogs become more obedient. A number of schools and institutions in the U.S. offer certificate and training programs for aspiring dog trainers.

How to Choose a Dog Trainer School

Several community and private dog academies and colleges offer training programs suitable for aspiring dog trainers. These may lead to both basic and master certificates.

Consider the following when choosing a dog trainer school:

  • Students may want to look for programs that offer a variety of certificate options, such as basic and advanced, allowing them to start at basic levels and continue their education as they advance in their career.
  • Students with families or professional responsibilities may want to consider the flexibility of programs, such as whether they include online training or the timing of on-campus requirements.
  • On-campus practical workshops intensive hands-on experience with a variety of dogs.
  • Students may want to seek out programs that prepare them for certification from organizations such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), which can contribute to credibility and job opportunities.

Overview of Dog Trainer Programs

Basic Certificate in Dog Training

The basic training program is suitable for novices to the field of dog training who desire entry-level employment in a shelter or kennel. Program structures are typically a combination of classroom lectures and practicums. These programs typically last 8-12 weeks and cover topics such as:

  • Basic obedience
  • Behavior modification
  • Breed characteristics
  • Agility
  • Imprinting

Master Certificate in Dog Training

The master training program is appropriate for individuals that have already graduated from a basic training program and desire a more in-depth education. Graduates of these programs are prepared for work independently or in professional dog shows, competitions and law enforcement agencies. Upon graduation, students will have passed both written and practical exams. These programs are usually 12-20 weeks in duration and include courses such as:

  • Advanced obedience
  • Tracking
  • Odor detection
  • Protection
  • Security

10 Schools with Dog Trainer Programs

College/University Institution Type
Hudson Valley Community College 2-year, Public
St. Louis Community College 2-year, Public
Karen Pryor Academy Private, for-profit
Animal Behavior College Private, for-profit
Ohio State K-9 College Private, for-profit
The Tom Rose School Private, for-profit
Ashworth College Private, for-profit
CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Private, for-profit
Master Dog Training Private, for-profit
Tarheel Canine Training, Inc. Private, for-profit

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