Online Dog Training Degree Program Overviews

Get information about online dog obedience training certificate programs. Find out about program requirements, course descriptions, as well as career information.

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Essential Information

Online dog training programs are extremely rare, since most programs revolve around in-person, supervised interactions with canines. However, students may find a limited offering of diploma and certificate programs in the subject. Students may also enroll in similar online programs in areas like veterinary technology. Most of the dog training programs are in a hybrid format of online and in-person requirements. Programs can often be completed in as little as six months. No general education is required, and classes go over topics that include conditioning, dog and puppy behavior, tricks, teaching through play, hunting training, and basic veterinary techniques.

Students are expected to complete in-person training and independent field exercises with a dog in order to gain sufficient practice. Individuals may also need to purchase a leash and bait pouch. The dog-training program may prepare graduates for certification with the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors.

Related Programs

Those interested in working with canines can find some related dog-training programs, many of which focus on working with specific types of dogs. Some related alternatives include:

  • Guard dog training
  • Service dog training
  • Police dog training
  • Dog grooming

Diploma or Certificate in Dog Obedience Training

Due to the hands-on nature of the field and necessity of interacting with dogs, online dog obedience trainer programs are limited. Courses cover basic information about canine health and veterinary science, sensory systems, and physical abilities. Enrollees study the ways dogs learn and interact socially. Class material emphasizes behavior problems, the best ways to respond and most effective ways to correct them. Other courses show students how to correctly identify dog breeds based on corresponding traits and temperaments.

Program Information and Requirements

Online dog obedience trainer programs require Internet access so that students may access and download software, view websites and complete online examinations. Supplemental materials, such as educational DVDs, are sent directly to the homes of students. It's recommended, but not required, that students practice the techniques they learn online with a live dog. Students complete coursework on their own time and begin immediately after enrollment. Typical program duration is six months.

Common Courses

Training Methods

This course includes instruction in dog training techniques and suggestions for specific lessons and commands. Classes cover canine psychology, motivation, conditioning and behavior reinforcement.

Canine Sensory Abilities

Students learn about the dog's perception of the world, limitations and unique abilities. They gain an understanding of what a dog notices in terms of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.

Socializing and Communication

This course provides information on the ways in which dogs form social groups, communicate with each other and work cooperatively so that prospective trainers learn how to interact with a dog in a way that he or she understands. Students pick up on canine 'body language' and learn to interpret cues.

Basic Health and Veterinary Science

It's important for a dog trainer to know when a dog is in medical distress. Topics include common illnesses and injuries, as well as treatment of minor problems with first aid. This course also covers canine reproductive health.

On-Campus Certificate in Canine Training

Much of the education for online and on-campus dog training is very similar. However, on-site training - which is often offered through college or university continuing education divisions - provides structured experience with real dogs under the supervision of an instructor. Students have the chance to seek immediate feedback from teachers and confer with fellow students in person. Learning takes place both in individual and group settings.

Program Information and Requirements

Some on-campus programs require students to bring in a pet or other familiar dog to practice techniques under the observation of the instructor. Programs may require a certain amount of contact hours training dogs, student teaching and taking practicum examinations. More advanced classes provide practice for canine competitions. Evaluations and examinations are done in class. Students need to be able to transport themselves and a familiar canine to and from class.

Common Courses

Canine Obedience

On-campus programs require a number of dog obedience instruction courses. While on-campus programs cover much of the same basic skills as online programs, emphasis is placed on live interactions between the student and his or her pet. Students practice specific commands in class and correct problem behaviors with the help of the instructor and peer feedback.

Client Services

This course focuses on customer and trainer communication, as well as good business practices. Students learn which dog trainer services are typically offered and how to provide the most effective services for each particular client and pet.

Student Teaching

In this course, students must prove their professional ability. They design their own training curriculum and advertising. Novice dog trainers apply their new skills in dog obedience sessions open to the public.

Career Information

Dog obedience training programs are geared toward people who want to start their own canine obedience businesses or work for an existing school. Dog trainer education programs are also useful for individuals interested in law enforcement positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that positions for dog trainers should be more favorable in bigger metro areas. They also state that the mean annual salary for animal trainers as a whole was approximately $33,600 as of 2015 ( After completion of classes, it's often recommended that dog trainers take the examination for membership in the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors.

There are a few hybrid online diploma and certificate programs in dog training that also require in-person training with dogs. Students in these programs prepare for careers as dog trainers by studying topics such as training methods, basic health, canine obedience and more.

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