Top Schools for Animal Training

Jul 14, 2018

Read about programs in animal training, which may be a good fit for students who enjoy working with animals but are not interested in becoming veterinarians. Learn about the program options at four of the top schools, and find a list of other colleges in the U.S. that provide training for animal trainers.

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Animal Training Education

Some professional animal training jobs may require completion of a formal education program, through which students learn how to teach animals to behave, obey commands, do tricks, or help a person with disabilities. Both degree and certificate programs can be found in this field.

School Information

The top schools for animal training include two community colleges and two universities that offer certificate and/or degree programs in animal training. These programs are notable because they allow students to specialize their studies in a particular animal type, such as dogs, horses, or exotic animals.

Lamar County Community College

Located in Lamar, Colorado, Lamar Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Horse Training and Management program. The program includes a specialty in horse training, through which students train a minimum of three colts and complete an internship with a horse trainer. The college also offers certificate programs in advanced horsemanship, fundamental horse training, and starting colts. Students can also join the college's co-ed rodeo team, which competes in events throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Moorpark College

Moorpark College in Moorpark, California offers an Associate in Science in Exotic Animal Training and Management program, which started with a single wolf named 'Kiska' in 1974. Through a 5-acre facility known as America's Teaching Zoo, students have access to nearly 200 animals, including an elephant, a tiger, primates, and mountain lions. Students are required to be at the zoo most days of the week, as long as it's open to the public, to feed and care for the animals under staff supervision. Qualified graduates may be able to obtain entry-level positions in zoos and other settings that contain nondomestic animals.

Before applying to the program, students should complete college courses in introductory biology or zoology with a lab requirement. Prerequisites also include general education courses and training in first aid and/or safety.

Bergin University of Canine Studies

Bergin University of Canine Studies in Santa Rosa, California offers an Associate of Science in Assistance Dog Education. This program prepares students for entry-level employment as therapeutic dog trainers with the expertise to partner dogs with people who have disabilities. Once enrolled, students complete 60 credits of coursework in canine health, human-dog psychology, and disability studies. They also learn how motor skills are acquired and how to market dogs. Additionally, the school offers bachelor's and master's level programs in canine studies.

Bergin University provides a greater variety of degrees in canine studies than any other university and is the home of the Assistance Dog Institute. Before applying to the school, students must complete at least 24 credits of general education, which can include courses in mathematics, arts and humanities, communications, and behavioral science.

Canisius College

At Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, students can earn a minor in zoo biology. This 5-course program can include courses in animal learning and animal enrichment and it may also include a zoo- or aquarium-based internship. These courses may be helpful for students interested in training exotic animals. Although the zoo biology minor is available to students from any major, it is most commonly paired with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. This program can also help prepare future animal trainers and includes relevant courses like animal cognition and animal ethics.

More Animal Training Schools

There are several other schools around the country with educational offerings related to animal training.

School Name Distinction Location
Linn-Benton Community College Includes a Horse Center about 1.5 miles from the main campus Albany, OR
Lone Star College System Offers a course in veterinary technology Tomball, TX
Midway College Offers degree programs in equine studies Midway, KY
Niagara County Community College Animal management associate degree program covers a wide variety of animals Sanborn, NY
Pikes Peak Community College Offers an elective in animal training Colorado Springs, CO
University of Missouri Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences program includes a course on equine behavior and training Columbia, MO

Aspiring animal trainers can find excellent programs at both community colleges and four-year institutions. Some programs allow students to focus specifically on the training of certain kinds of animals, such as exotic animals or horses.

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