What Does It Take to be a Dog Trainer? - McCann Professional Dog Trainers

What Does It Take to be a Dog Trainer?

We are often approached by people who are interested in becoming a dog trainer. They LOVE dogs and have had them all of their lives and would love to dedicate the rest of their lives to them.

They are filled with visions of playing with cute little puppies all day long. While for dog trainers, a career in anything else would never work, the reality of day-to-day life training dogs can be different than the fantasy.

As with anything, there are pitfalls in thinking that it’s all sunshine and puppy kisses.

Did you know that most dog trainers are actually people trainers?

Do you like working with people as much as you like working with dogs? Most dog trainers make their living training family pets. That means that they have to have good people skills as well as good dog knowledge and need patience in abundance. In reality, it is usually the dog owner who is doing the training, following the instructions of the dog trainers. They need to learn so they will understand how to continue lessons at home.

Are you committed to a lifetime of learning about dog training?

Dog training is fluid! It’s always changing and evolving. If you want to be a good dog trainer, it’s crucial that you are open and committed to learning for the rest of your working life. Be prepared to learn from colleagues, classes, seminars, videos, books, day-to-day life. A good dog trainer is always learning and always updating their bag of tricks. They are also always willing to experiment and try new methods based on results.

You can read all of the science you want, but ultimately, hands on learning is best

There are thousands of books and videos on the subject of dog training. Certifications are available, but be aware that there is no governing body for dog trainers and any certification will only be recognized by the issuing organization. All the book learning in the world is only a drop in the bucket. Yes, knowing the science behind dog training is important, but you need to be able to read the dog to apply the science. For this reason, nothing beats hands on learning. Find someone you want to emulate in your dog training career and apprentice under them.

How do we add to our dog training staff?

We have an apprenticeship program that we use to add to our teaching staff. We identify all of our apprentices through our own classes. We look for friendly, outgoing people who are doing a good job with their dogs. When we add people to our program, it is important that they are comfortable with our training methods and familiar with our classes. Because of that, we insist that they have completed Grades 1, 2 & 3 within a year of applying for the program.

Dog training can be a very rewarding career for the right person. As with any career, you’ll want to consider all of the pros and cons before jumping in.

Best of luck!

Hi! I'm Shannon Viljasoo and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members.

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