How to become a Dog Trainer

Dog trainers teach dogs to obey commands and perform specific tasks.

Personal requirements of a Dog Trainer

  • Calm, confident demeanour with dogs
  • Patience with dogs and owners
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Able to persevere
  • Observant
  • Alert to changes in dogs’ behaviour

Education & Training for a Dog Trainer

You can work as a dog trainer without formal qualifications, but employers usually require Year 10. Skills are usually developed through practice and experience with dogs, which may be obtained by joining a local dog obedience club, working in kennels or working as an assistant to a professional trainer. A Provide First Aid Certificate and basic animal nursing training are considered an advantage. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a VET qualification in companion animal services. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. The Australian Border Force, state and Federal Police and the Australian Defence Force select potential dog trainers from within their departments and conduct internal training courses. The Australian Border Force holds its courses at Customs House in the region to which you have been recruited. Dog trainers working with security firms often have a defence or police background. See the separate entries for Police Officer - State, Police Officer - Australian Federal Police, Border Force Officer, Air Force General Entrant, Army Soldier and Navy Sailor for education and training requirements for these occupations.

Duties & Tasks of a Dog Trainer

Dog trainers may perform the following tasks:

  • train dogs to obey commands such as sitting and lying down, staying in one place and coming when called
  • teach dogs to wear a leash and collar
  • discourage bad habits such as chasing cars, being aggressive with children, excessive barking and digging holes
  • conduct instruction classes for owners and their dogs
  • teach owners to manage and train dogs in the behaviour they require
  • teach the owner how to handle their dog so that it will obey commands and not return to bad habits
  • give advice to owners on how to train, manage and take the best care of their dog, and how to solve problematic behaviour.

Working conditions for a Dog Trainer

Dogs are usually in training for six to eight weeks. In intensive training programs, dogs can be kept in the full-time care of the trainer. To train dogs so intensively, the dog trainer must work with them every day. As dogs can only be taught for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time, trainers usually work with them once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Trainers need to be knowledgeable in dog behaviour, learning theory, practical training of dogs and instructing owners.

Employment Opportunities for a Dog Trainer

Dog trainers work for the Australian Border Force, state and Federal Police, the Australian Defence Force, security companies, boarding kennels, dog training clubs and community parks. Most dog trainers are self-employed or work in partnerships. Those wishing to set up their own business will need extensive experience with dogs and sufficient start-up money. While most dog trainers are employed on a part-time basis, some may be employed full time. Instructors at dog training clubs are usually voluntary workers.

Specialisations:


Detection/Defence Dog Trainer

A detection/defence dog trainer trains dogs to perform functions useful in police work, customs work and defence force work, such as attacking aggressors, tracking missing people or finding drugs and food items that are illegal or not allowed across borders.

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