5 Key Skills Needed to Be a Dog Trainer
This one’s kind of explanatory… I mean, why pursue a career that revolves entirely around dogs if you’re not even a dog lover in the first place? Not only will your job bring you little joy; your clients and their pups will always be able to tell. It’s hard to imagine anyone capable of a long-term, thriving career if it’s in a field they aren’t passionate about.
So, this is probably the most important place to start. If you don’t love dogs, you probably shouldn’t become a dog trainer.
As the saying goes, “It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.” However, whether your client has a puppy or a senior pooch, new tricks often won’t be learned overnight. For this reason, dog training requires a lot of repetition – and even more patience.
If you’re prone to getting irritable when something doesn’t go your way quickly enough, this job won’t be a good fit for you. Dogs are experts at detecting people’s emotions, so if you’re feeling impatient, they’re going to pick up on it. The more frustrated you get, the less likely the training is to be successful. Thus, keeping a calm, cool head at all times is key!
Personally, we’re of the mindset that the best dog training comes from positive reinforcement. So long as it isn’t accidentally used to reinforce unwanted behavior, this method of training is extremely beneficial (not to mention, better for the dog’s overall welfare). Plus, studies have proven that it produces desirable results, especially when compared to negative reinforcement.
To be a truly successful dog trainer, the way you handle your clients’ dogs will make all the difference. So, maintain a friendly, welcoming demeanor at all times, and stray away from any kind of training method that encourages negative reinforcement. The more love, understanding, and comfortability you give a dog, the more eager it’ll be to master your commands and please you!
4. Clear Communication Skills
When you work as a dog groomer, most of your job will only involve you and your client’s pet. In the field of dog training, however, you’ll be working with both the dog and their owner. Since the entire basis of this profession is to teach your client how to train their dog, you’re going to need to know how to teach them. This means, knowing how to communicate things clearly, in a way they can grasp and understand.
If you’re unsure whether you’re capable of verbalizing what it is you’re trying to teach, start by practicing on a friend or family member. (Preferably, one who has a dog, but little to no formal dog training experience.) There will be less pressure than there’d be with a paying client. Plus, this way you can get honest feedback about where you’re clear vs. where you need to be clearer.
As a result, by the time you book paying clients, you’ll have the verbiage down pact and will be able to run your training sessions with ease!
5. An Understanding of Dog Behavior
As we discussed earlier, dog training is all about understanding canine behavior. Only then can you adapt to it as needed, so you can adjust your methods in a way that will best jive with what each individual dog requires. If you can’t read a dog based off its body language, you’re going to have a hard time teaching it anything.
Luckily, you’re a certified groomer! So long as you’ve gotten your education through a reputable certification course – such as the one offered by QC Pet Studies – then you’ve already been trained and are well-versed in dog behavior!