Dog Trainer Job Description: What Does a Dog Trainer Do?

Nowadays, more and more people have pets and dogs are the most usual pet animal.

They tend to keep them at their homes and as they are animals, misbehaving is something to be expected.

That is the moment when a dog training career comes into play.

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Dog Trainer Duties & Responsibilities

This is actually a career that combines knowledge of animal behavior with practical teaching skills.

So as to be able to perform this job successfully, the individual needs to possess patience, consistency, and excellent communication skills – both verbal and nonverbal.

A dog trainer has the aim to effectively teach their canine and the majority of dog trainers are self-employed.

However, there are some dog trainers who work for a head trainer or as a part of a pet store’s obedience training program.

Workplaces are numerous for these professionals.

Trainers may also be employed by animal shelters, veterinary clinics, or boarding kennels and they may offer group lessons, private lessons, or home visits.

Furthermore, they may choose to specialize in obedience, behavioral modification, aggression management, therapy or service dog training, puppy training, trick training, and a variety of other areas.

Specialization in working with specific breeds is also an option that will lead to better job prospects and higher salaries.

Love towards dogs is an inevitable characteristic of a person who wants to become a Dog Trainer.

However, his/her daily duties and responsibilities are numerous, causing them to possess many other skills and qualities.

Dog trainer job generally requires the ability to do the following:

  • Operant conditioning
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Clicker training
  • Hand signals
  • Voice commands
  • Reward systems

These are all techniques used to teach new or improved behavior.

Their job is to take a closer look at the progress of the dog and advise owners on how best to reinforce these teaching methods at home or even provide the owner with additional exercises.

So that the dog training sessions are successful, dog trainers need to be sensitive, patient, careful, strong, and physically fit.

They will also need to meet the needs of the owner as the owners are frequently unaware of the important role they play in the training of their dog.

Dog Trainer Salary

In any job that we perform, salary plays a very important role.

Dog Trainers can expect that their salary varies widely depending on their level of experience, area of expertise, education, and certifications, just like in any other occupation.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are possible salaries of dog trainers:

  • Median Annual Salary: $34,760 ($16.71/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $56,000 ($26.92/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $19,610 ($9.43/hour)

When determining their income, dog trainers must have in mind the additional costs for their business such as insurance, travel, training facility use fees, and various forms of advertising.

Education, Training, & Certification

So as to have better job prospects, higher salaries, and greater success, education, training, and certification are mandatory.

It is true that no formal training or licensing is required for dog trainers, but still, many of them decide to pursue some form of education and certification so as to know what their job involves.

Some aspiring trainers decide to learn through an apprenticeship with an experienced trainer and get hands-on experience.

Others choose a number of educational options that offer certifications and provide additional in-depth training.

So, they enroll in training schools whose curriculum covers the evolution of dog training, behavior, learning techniques, and how to design classes for your own clients after graduation.

Coursework should include lectures, readings, and practical training clinics.

Another advantage is the prior experience working with a variety of breeds in veterinary clinics and animal shelters, or from college coursework in animal behavior.

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) was founded in 2001 and offers two different types of certification.

One of them is knowledge-based (KA), meaning that students are required to have at least 300 hours of dog training in three years, and a signed attestation from a veterinarian or another CCPDT certificate holder.

Another option is skills-based (KSA) and the applicant must already hold the CCPDT-KA credentials.

The CCPDT also requires continuing education credits to maintain certification.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) was founded in 1993 and it has a “Professional Member” classification available to those who achieve certification with the CCPDT or a few other animal behavior societies, in addition to full and associate memberships.

The organization boasts over 5,000 members to date, making this the largest association of dog trainers.

Dog Trainer Skills & Competencies

In order to effectively perform the Dog Trainer’s job, you need to possess certain skills, competencies, and personal qualities.

Not everyone is capable of being a dog trainer and what you need to have in order to have a successful career in this field is the following:

  • Patience: Dogs have different behavioral traits, so you must be patient and do not get frustrated.
  • Confidence: The confident people make dogs more responsive to them, which will be noticed by clients who will likely refer you to others. You should not emphasize your skills too much, but just be confident about what you do, and let new and prospective clients know you will get the job done.
  • Do not pay much attention to being clean: Being that you will work with dogs, you should know that it is a messy business. You need to expect to roll around in the mud, deal with wet and dirty paws, drool, and get your clothes dirty.
  • Communication skills: This is the most important personal quality as you will need to communicate with the animals and their owners, and if you are not a communicative person, you will not do well in this career.
  • Passion: If you do not possess a passion for dogs, this is not the right path for you.

Job Outlook

According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of American families owned a pet, or about 60 million people owned a dog.

What is even better, this number keeps rising, resulting in job growth for dog trainers

It is worth mentioning that job growth will be highest in major metropolitan areas in states such as California and New York, where larger numbers of dog owners live.