Dog Training Careers

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When you consider a career in dog training, what comes to mind? If you are like most people, you probably envisioned a cheerful instructor teaching a group obedience class with twelve puppies, or a Cesar Millan style trainer walking down a road with eight formerly aggressive dogs. Although there are certainly types of dog trainers who are more popular than others, the dog training industry actually offers an enormous scope of possibilities for trainers.

dog training careers

In 2017 alone, Americans spent $69.51 billion on their pets, and this number is increasing annually. If you have ever considered starting a career working with dogs, now is truly the time! There is significant potential for success in dog training, and a wide variety of venues you could choose to specialize in. The results of our 2020 National Dog Trainer Survey showed the numerous possibilities for flexible working, financial opportunities and other benefits of working in the dog training industry.

Whether your interest is in pet dogs, service dogs, or police dogs there is a career opportunity waiting for you. Here at the School for Dog Trainers at Highland Canine Training, we believe in providing our students with a comprehensive, solid foundation of dog training knowledge as well as great deal of hands on experience. Our school is designed to fully prepare students for working in the industry while setting them up for real-world success. 80% of our graduates are still working in the canine industry and many of our students have their own successful businesses.

Highland Canine is not just a school – we are a fully functioning canine training facility. What better place to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to successfully train dogs than with industry leading professional dog trainers? Students get to work first hand with real service dogs, police K9s and pet dogs. At the School for Dog Trainers, you will be able to witness first hand how experienced trainers work with dogs and why they choose to use certain methods while foregoing others. The School for Dog Trainers is dedicated to providing students with the best education available in the industry by offering a uniquely comprehensive curriculum based around helping the dreams of future dog trainers come true. The level of training that students will receive at our academy is one which cannot be attained through an online class or weekend seminar.

Many are not aware that dog training is a unique field which offers numerous specializations. Each of these specializations require a specific set of knowledge and skills. Regardless of which path you are interested in pursuing, we offer a course that is catered to prepare you for real world success. Whether you are starting from scratch or looking to expand your knowledge, our courses are an excellent way to upgrade your dog training career.

Service Dog Trainer

service dog trainer career

Service dog trainers provide a life-changing service to their clients. Service dogs are trained to assist a person with a disability to perform a task they are unable to do on their own. Training these selfless servants is no easy feat. Service dog trainers spend years training these dogs. The tasks that the dogs are taught are often complex behaviors, and these behaviors require a good understanding of how dogs learn and operant conditioning.

Each dog is molded to the needs of a specific individual – service dogs are not one size fits all. Service dog trainers are required to have a solid understanding of shaping canine behavior, problem solving, and have the people skills necessary to work with their clients efficiently. Oftentimes, service dog trainers must teach their client how to handle their new dog in a relatively short time period.

Service dog trainers are great problem solvers. They must identify any issue with the dog they are working with and immediately resolve it. This could be something the dog finds intimidating in its environment, or an older dog may be unhappy with its new service dog housemate. Many service dog programs will raise their own puppies; these programs require people to take puppies home and properly socialize them.

A service dog’s work starts from day one. Early socialization is crucial to long term success of the dog. There are several organizations looking for new recruits which require the trainer to undertake an internship or apprenticeship before hiring. Training service dogs is no easy task, but provides an extremely beneficial service to the community and yields great job satisfaction.

Police K9 Instructor/Trainer

Police dogs provide a wonderful and important service to the general public. Their sole purpose is to keep people safe, whether it involves detecting narcotics that are being smuggled across state lines, searching a stadium for explosives, or apprehending a dangerous criminal.

Training a well-rounded police dog is not for the faint-hearted. It is difficult work; blood, sweat, and tears go into the creation of every police dog. Trainers of police K9s require an excellent sense of timing in order to reward and shape the exact behavior they are looking for when it comes to detection.

Police dog trainers require a deep understanding of canine thresholds and reinforcement during bite work training. Every trainer has to know exactly how much pressure they can put on the dog they are working with in order to build up the dog’s confidence. Being a police dog trainer requires fierce dedication. The hours are long and the work is dirty. In the end, however it is incredibly rewarding.

A good police dog has several different components. Training facilities will employ a number of trainers, each specializing in a niche area, to efficiently get the dog ready for active service in the police force. A single facility may have individual trainers on staff for detection, trailing, bite work, and obedience. Depending on the size of the facility and the volume of dogs they are selling, there may be multiple trainers in each specialization.

Obedience/Behavior Modification

Obedience and behavior modification is the foundation of all dog training. You can either choose to work with pet dogs offering only behavior modification and obedience lessons to your clients, or you can incorporate your obedience skills into another specialized field of dog training.

As a professional dog trainer, if you have a solid understanding of this core information then there is no limit to what you can achieve in the industry. There is currently a dire need for dog trainers specializing in behavior modification, and an alarming number of existing dog trainers refuse to work with dogs who have severe behavioral problems. These trainers will often recommend euthanizing the animal if they do not know how to fix it. Armed with a solid understanding of canine behavior modification and the confidence to face any challenge head on, you can rehabilitate the dogs that other trainers deemed “unfixable”.

When it comes to job availability, working with pet dogs is going to be the majority of jobs in the industry. Working with pet dogs is not flashy work but it prevents many dogs from ending up in shelters or euthanized.

Whether you are looking to work for someone else or start your own business, teaching obedience classes is a great place to start. The canine industry is constantly growing and every year it exceeds growth predictions. Where there are dogs, there will always be the need for obedience training.


detection dog trainer career

Odor detection is not just for law enforcement. Dog trainers throughout the private sector utilize detection dogs to provide valuable services to the community. Detection dogs can be trained to detect the presence of bed bug odor in a hotel, black mold in a house, or valuable digital hardware in a court case.

A well-trained detection dog is extremely useful. Detection is an art form that requires a perfect partnership between handler and canine. Detection dog trainers are required to be fluent in canine body language and behavior, as well as odor theory.

Reinforcement timing is a crucial skill to master when working with detection dogs. Trainers have to reward the dog at the exact moment a desired behavior is displayed. These specialized trainers need to exercise patience and observe intently. As the popularity of commercial detection dogs increase, so does the number of job opportunities within the industry.


protection dog trainer career

Protection dogs are highly trained protectors that embody the perfect balance between aggression and control. At a moment’s notice, a protection dog must go from a state of calm and transform in order to defend their handler.

Trainers must socialize a prospective protection dog in order to make the dog comfortable in all environments. These trainers must have a solid understanding of channeling a dog’s natural drive to build a confident, level-headed dog.

Protection dogs have some of the best obedience training in the industry. Their handlers must have complete control of their dogs regardless of where they are or what is going on around them. A well-rounded protection dog handler also must have the people skills to teach their clients how to properly utilize their new protector.
Whether training a dog for a private security company or for a civilian who wants to feel safer in their household, a protection dog trainer’s mission remains the same.