© 2013, Jerry D. Patillo, CPDT-KA
Q: Who can I go to, to become a dog trainer? I have no money, so I thought I could be an apprentice. Any advice?
A: I hate to say this, but nothing worthwhile or valuable in life is free. You have to work for it – and work hard. The information and experience that dog-behavior specialists and trainers have garnered over the years are priceless. Most of us are not going to give those away for free. Since you have no money, here are some options you might want to consider: Go to work for a pet-supply store such as Petco, PetSmart, or similar company that has a dog-training program. Even if you start out stocking shelves or dipping fish, you can indicate to your boss the desire to become one of the company’s dog trainers. Many of these companies provide free training for their qualified employees.
Another option is to volunteer for a dog rescue or shelter as a dog-training assistant. Many rescues will not have an organized plan for educating aspiring dog trainers. However, they can give you a wonderful opportunity to observe, shadow an experienced trainer, and gain a lot of hands-on experience. Also, rescues that you’ve established a relationship with can be a valuable referral source for you when you go out on your own.
Another option is to volunteer or work for a dog-daycare facility. Most of these companies, also, will not have an organized plan for educating aspiring dog trainers. However, they, too, can give you a wonderful opportunity to observe, shadow an experienced trainer, and gain a lot of hands-on experience. Also, daycare facilities you’ve established a relationship with can be a valuable referral source for you when you go out on your own.
IN ADDITION TO the above options, you must – you MUST – also read and view all the books and videos on dog training that you can get your hands on. If you don’t have any money, visit your local library to borrow these materials for free. Steer away – RUN away! – from books and videos that promote harsh dog training such as dominance, jerking, choking, pinching, shocking, hitting, kicking, and positive (additive) punishment. Instead, concentrate on the media that promote kind leadership, positive reinforcement, and NEGATIVE (subtractive) punishment. If you don’t know the difference between positive and negative punishment, and positive and negative reinforcement, then please click here.
Now, if you have money, you have a lot more options. An excellent choice would be to enroll in an online course, such as from Animal Behavior College, in California, or CATCH Canine Trainers Academy, in New Jersey. They will provide you a lot of materials and guidance for learning the science and art of animal behavior and dog training. At the appropriate time in your curriculum, they will send you to a local experienced mentor trainer so you can gain practical, hands-on practice training dogs and humans. If you’re in the Dallas, Texas, area, that would probably be me, Jerry D. Patillo, CPDT-KA, a certified professional dog trainer with over nine years of experience (since 2004). If you’d like more information on the mentorship program, then click here.
If you have further questions on becoming a professional dog trainer, please call or email me, Jerry D. Patillo, CPDT-KA.