Charles River Dog Training Club, Inc.

Waltham, Massachusetts
How Do I Become a Dog Trainer and Dog Obedience Instructor?

Many of the suggestions below have been adapted from information provided by
the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI).

Training Dogs

  • To be a good dog trainer, you must be physically fit, goal oriented, self-starting, and love dogs. It takes a lot of stamina, patience, understanding, insight, common sense and fortitude to dedicate ones life to training dogs.

  • Becoming a good dog trainer takes a great deal of hands-on experience. It's important to become familiar with many different breeds and types of dog.

  • Read as many books about dog training and behavior as possible, and attend seminars and workshops on these subjects. Never stop learning!

  • Learn about the nature of dogs, their behavior, structure, and other attributes, and learn the theories on how dogs learn and how to train them.

  • Start by training your own dogs at a local club that offers obedience classes or with an independent instructor.

  • Learn about training for achieving high scores in obedience trials and other performance tests. Earn obedience titles on your dogs.

Instructing Classes

  • A good dog obedience instructor must like people and must be able to get along well with various kinds of people. You must be a good listener and know how to teach and motivate people of all ages and abilities.

  • Learn about solving dog/owner problems. Most people who bring their dog to a training class want a wonderfully obedient companion dog. They're coming to class to help solve some problems with their pet dog.

  • Do you want to start your own business? Dog obedience instructing isn't likely to be lucrative. Most dog-owners work during the day, so classes are usually held weekday evenings and weekends. Training space is hard to find - free space is rare - and landlords usually don't consider dogs to be attractive tenants. In addition to the rent, there are other bills to pay - insurance, advertising and utilities. Teaching three hours each week night is only a part-time salary. Also, the work is seasonal. Don't quit your day job!

  • No one can teach you how to train a dog. Other trainers can only teach you how they train a dog. Not all methods will be compatible with your aptitudes, attitudes, or sensibilities. Not all dogs learn by the same methods. Borrow ideas from other people, books, videos, and your own experience. Develop methods that work best for you. Develop a toolbox of training techniques for the dog that doesn't learn by your favorite method. Keep an open mind and never stop learning!

Some Practical Suggestions

  • Request a copy of the brochure, Careers in Dogs, from the AKC.

  • Learn dog training skills by gaining hands-on experience. Train your own dog and your friends' dogs. Join a dog training club. Volunteer at a shelter and help make dogs more adoptable by teaching them some basic obedience. Work with many different breeds and get lots of dog handling experience.

  • Attend as many dog training seminars and workshops as you can. Design your own program of study at a local community college to include animal behavior and animal science courses, psychology courses, basic teaching skills, and how to run a small business. NADOI does not endorse commercial dog training schools, partly because the organization doesn't have the staff to investigate them and partly because many schools don't stay in existence very long.

  • Arrange an apprenticeship program with experienced instructors. Serve as an assistant to the instructor of a beginner or basic class. As you gain experience, move up to become an instructor. Progress to instructing more advanced classes. Keep in mind that in most dog clubs, assistants and instructors are not necessarily paid positions.

  • Become a certified intructor through a professional organization such as NADOI, ICAP, or APDT.

Some Resources

  • Professional Standards for Dog Trainers: Effective Humane Principles
    Includes information on dog behavior, trainer skills and ethics, tools and equipment, and more.
    A publication of the Delta Society,

  • Dogwise
    One of the best sources for dog books and videos. 800 776-2665

  • Front and Finish
    Newpaper of record for obedience training. Box 333, Galesburg IL 61402-0333.

  • Forward
    Newsletter published by National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI),, 729 Grapevine Hwy Suite 369, Hurst TX 76054

  • The Clicker Journal, 20146 Gleedsville Rd, Leesburg VA 20175

  • Animal Trainers Forum, Box 364, West Sand Lake NY 12196

  • Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT),, Box 385, Davis CA 95617

  • International Association of Canine Professionals,, P.O. Box 560156, Montverde, FL 34756-0156, (407) 469-2008,

  • Clean Run
    Agility magazine, 35 Walnut St, Turner Falls MA 01376

  • Calendar of upcoming seminars, workshops, and clinics in New England

  • Careers Involving Dogs - with links to additional information

  • All Dogs Academy for Professional Trainers, A Comprehensive Education in Clicker Training, licensed by the State of NH. FMI:, 800-472-4669, 603-669-4644

  • Assistance Dog Institute, Santa Rosa CA. Offers degrees in Assistance Dog Education and Human-Canine Life Sciences. Tel: 707-545-3647

Updated Aug-2015
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