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 roll over. 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.

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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.

10 Schools with Dog Trainer Programs

Various private and public institutions have programs related to dog training, including:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2016)*
Hudson Valley Community College Troy, NY 2-year, Public Certificate In-state: $5,188 Out-of-state: $13,388 (2015-2016)
St. Louis Community College Saint Louis, MO 2-year, Public Courses $19-$69 per course
Karen Pryor Academy Waltham, MA Private, for-profit Courses $299-$599 per course
Animal Behavior College Various US and Canadian locations Private, for-profit Certificate $3,195 to $5,195
Ohio State K-9 College Columbus, OH Private, for-profit Courses Prices varies on evaluation
The Tom Rose School High Ridge, MT Private, for-profit Courses $5,990 to $13,475
CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Private, for-profit Various locations Certificate $89 monthly
Master Dog Training Beverly Hills, CA, affiliate schools around the US Private, for-profit Certificate $2,000 to $10,000
Tarheel Canine Training, Inc. Sanford, NC Private, for-profit Certificate $2,650 to $13,900

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, school websites

School Selection Considerations

Things to consider when selecting a school with a dog training program include certificate option level, experiential learning opportunities and online availability.

  • 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.
  • Students should see if programs offer hands-on experience with a variety of dogs or if they are required to provide their own dog.
  • 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.

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.

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.

Students interested in a dog training program should consider if relevant courses prepare them for professional certification, provide direct training, and have flexibility and advanced levels. Certificates are available for both new students and professional trainers looking to further their skills or credentials.

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