Paraprofessional Training for Behavior
- There is no certification requirement in the United States for professional dog trainers. However, there are organizations that offer certification testing and programs, such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). Dog training is a skill that increases with time and practice. There is no one educational route or course of study to take to become a certified trainer. The stages in becoming a certified dog trainer are education, paraprofessional experience, professional experience and certification testing by a respected organization, such as the APDT. Certification is obtained to increase the credibility and marketability of a dog training business.
- Gaining a strong theoretical background in dog behavior, principles of dog and human interaction, and the business of dog training is important to future success as a dog trainer. There are many techniques, theories and tactics in dog training. A trainer generally associates with one or two main dog training methods. For example, positive reinforcement training is popular today. According to the Humane Society of America, positive reinforcement training is one of the most effective tools available to shape and change a dog's behavior. Theoretical background gives a trainer the professional language needed to effectively communicate training decisions and techniques with dog owners, increasing your credibility as a dog trainer and the marketability of your business. Schools, online courses, books and CDs are all sources of education in dog training.
- Hands-on paraprofessional experience is crucial in developing a successful dog training business. Gaining interaction and training experience with many different breeds of dog leads to better training skills. One way to do this, while helping needy dogs, is to volunteer at an animal shelter. Most animal shelters welcome volunteer trainers and your efforts can make the difference between a dog finding a permanent home, or not. Volunteering at shelters helps a new trainer develop connections in the animal welfare community that can lead to future clients for a dog training business.
- Internships are generally unpaid positions in which a paraprofessional assists a professional trainer and, in the process, learns the ins and outs of running a training business. A trainer educates the paraprofessional in a particular style of dog training. When searching for an internship, interview the trainer to determine if the training philosophy and style are compatible with your own. Dog training internships are not often advertised. You may need to call various trainers to find one who is interested in offering an internship.
- Apprentices are often paid a small stipend. They work closely with a professional trainer during group obedience classes and in the daily management of a dog training business. Towards the end of an apprenticeship, the paraprofessional will often run group and individual training sessions without the presence of the professional trainer. An apprenticeship is usually the final step towards becoming a professional dog trainer. Select an apprenticeship program carefully and make sure you are attuned to the training philosophy.