Any dog trainers on the Dope?

I’m not going to hit you up for free advice. :stuck_out_tongue: I would like to pick your brain about your career, though.

My husband and I had a trainer come over yesterday to help us with some minor dog behavior ssues. As she walked me through some basic commands with my pup, she remarked “you have good instincts with this, I should hire you!”. I joked back “I’m actually looking for a new career, so I’m available!”. We ended up chatting for several minutes about her schooling and what I would have to do in order to become a trainer myself, and she said she’d be happy to mentor me when I reached that stage in the program.

I recently quit the community college program I was in because I realized that the job I was working towards wasn’t a good career for me. Since then, I’ve been at loose ends as far as what I want to do with my life. I love animals and have always wanted to work with them in a non-medical capacity, and have considered dog training in the past. I never got farther than “hmm, that might be interesting” but my conversation with this trainer motivated me to google some schools.

So! Tell me about your schooling, your job, what you like about this career and what you hate. Would you choose this job again? What’s the most frustrating part of the job? Do you earn a good wage?

I’m going to observe an obedience class next month and I have a list of “required reading” from my trainer, what else can I do to figure out if this is the path for me before I shell out for school?

Would your trainer be willing to let you shadow her for a day or so? That might be a good way to get a better idea of what’s involved.

I’m not an obedience type trainer, but SO is while I train dogs to work (herd) sheep for myself and give lessons to others. He went to this school- - for an intensive, on site training but there are some programs (Petsmart for example) that have on the job type training. Really, there are no “requirements” for dog trainers, just the ability to train dogs and to communicate well with people. The dogs are often the easy part- it’s training the people that can make you bang your head against the wall. My SO is a very talented trainer and good with people, but he got burnt out eventually by the lack of follow through on the part of his clients. He got bored with working on sit every single week and wants to eventually move out of in home obedience and more into training drug dogs and the like- fields that are much harder to get into.

For myself, I have found that the hardest thing to teach people is how to correct their dog effectively- to tell the dog when it’s wrong without shutting the dog down or nagging the dog as it walks all over you. For sheepdogs, it’s very correction based training- the sheep are the only reward you can give the dogs so treats are irrelevant and in this current “positive” dog training culture, it can be hard to convince owners that their dogs won’t wilt if they teach them to respect the sheep.

If I had the facility, I would love to take dogs in for on-site training- working with multiple dogs is the best way to learn and the most rewarding. I have several students though that have stayed with me for several years and are good friends as well. Money wise, it pays my hay bills for the sheep plus some, for my SO he was either doing really well or would have seasons (right before Xmas for example) where his income was almost nil. He has to do alot more “selling” than I do as well- doing free evaluations and then trying to get people to sign up for enough lessons to be effective. I couldn’t believe though how inconsiderate people could be- he would drive across town and at least half the time no one would be home or they would call 10 minutes before the scheduled time to cancel. Very frustrating!

If you love dogs and people though, it can be a rewarding business- but in this economy now, you may find alot of people are not wanting to spend the type of money that would make it worthwhile. After dog training school, my SO spent a few months at a boarding/training business first so he could get alot of experience. The money wasn’t as good as when he went on his own, but it was consistent at least.

Thanks for the info, Smokinjbc. I’m interested in the type of training your SO does, there aren’t many working dogs in Detroit :slight_smile: There’s a very respected trainer named Patricia McConnell that also has herding dogs, her books are really good. She has Border Collies, I think?

From the reading I’ve done and the conversations I’ve had with the trainer and other friends who have experience with animals I know that I want to use positive training methods, no punishment. I know what you’re saying about letting the dog learn to respect the sheep, though. I’m letting my dog work things out with the cats and taking the chance that he’s going to need to get a nose full of claws in order to teach him to give them space.

I believe that at Petco and similar places you do have to go through some schooling outside of the on-the-job training, but I could be wrong. I don’t think I would like to work at a place like that, though, too much like retail and that’s what I’m in now. I also have some personal peeves with Petco, so that may be coloring my opinion.

ultrafilter, I am going to ask her about shadowing after I observe one of her classes. I think she’d be open to it.


I like Patricia McConnel’s books- she is well grounded I think but most dog training books bore me to tears, which is why I wouldn’t make a good in-home obedience trainer. I am not a big fan of “purely positive” methods- especially for problem behaviors. I think clicker training and positive methods are great but dogs interactions with each other include correction (not the same thing as punishment IMHO) and while many good tempered dogs excel without correction, there are plenty of other dogs that need a good balance of both.