Tuesday, 30 May 2017

So you want to be a dog trainer - what skills do you need?


How does spending all day playing with puppies sound?  Getting out and about instead of being stuck behind a desk?



Would you rather see an enthusiastic spaniel wiggle than the glum expression on your manager’s face?

Right now it’s never been easier to become a dog trainer, but it’s pretty confusing if you want to become a GOOD trainer.

As our most recent recruit told me “There’s courses everywhere, you can literally pay £60 for a correspondence course and claim to be a dog trainer!” 

Thankfully Fi recognises that this isn’t a good thing, so she is observing and assisting in our classes while she decides if dog training is what she really wants to do.

To be an excellent dog trainer, I’m going to say you need these things:

  • Good timing, and reasonable fine motor skills (to deliver rewards)
  • The ability to observe closely and accurately (see what’s really going on)
  • See the bigger goals and know how to slice them down into achievable steps (make a clear plan on how to move towards the big goal, with measurable tasks along the way)
  • Understand canine and human body language, and when to adjust your posture or voice (being aware of communication at all times)
  • Enthusiasm, passion and “grit” (check out Susan Duckworth for more on Grit)

And if you want to teach classes, or work with owners then you also need to like people! Effective communication and motivation skills with humans are essential.

The good news is that you can learn and improve on every thing on that list! You’ll need grit because it takes time, practice, hard work and patience to develop these skills.

Just like Sian, one of our amazing trainers, who passed her Association of Pet Dog Trainers (UK) assessment last week with flying colours.


Sian has all those skills I listed above in bucket loads. 

I consider myself lucky to have been able to mentor Sian for the past two years and passing her APDT is a well earned formal acknowledgement of her achievements, on top of being a trainer on a super TV series earlier this year. I couldn’t be more proud of Sian!

If you have ever considered wanting to be a dog trainer, or even just want to be better at training your own dog, why not start with our one-day Dog Training Fundamentals course. 

Saturday 8th July, Wigginton, York

We’ll work through the key skills and build your confidence in teaching core exercises and more.



Have a great week

Morag and the collie girls

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