Dog trainer

A dog trainer


Dog trainers train animals and/or dog handlers for general and specific purposes, including assistance, security, leisure, competition, transportation, obedience and routine handling, entertainment and education, in accordance with national legislation.

The duties of a dog trainer include, but are not limited to:

  • Training dogs for specific tasks such as assisting blind individuals or detecting drugs or explosives
  • Observing dog behavior within the home environment to identify potential problems and create customized training plans for owners
  • Performing basic training tasks such as teaching basic commands, obedience, and behavior modification techniques
  • Observing dog owners during training sessions to provide feedback and help owners improve their technique
  • Providing behavioral counseling services to owners whose dogs exhibit undesirable behaviors such as aggression towards people or other animals
  • Developing a training program based on the owner’s needs and goals for their pet
  • Conducting puppy training classes to teach socialization and basic obedience skills
  • Teaching new owners how to care for their pets properly, including feeding, grooming, and administering medications as needed
  • Training service dogs for individuals with disabilities, such as blindness or deafness, or alerting individuals who have diabetes when their blood sugar levels are too high or too low

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to dog trainer:

agility dog trainer
security dog trainer
gun dog trainer
puppy trainer
dog handler instructor
dog training instructor
canine training centre worker
police dog trainer
canine behaviour trainer
sheepdog trainer
dog handler trainer
guide dog trainer
canine behaviourist
greyhound trainer
pet dog trainer
assistance dog trainer

Working conditions

Dog trainers work with all types of dogs in a variety of settings, including homes, kennels, animal shelters, obedience schools, and dog training centers. They may work with dogs that are being trained for obedience, protection, law enforcement, or other specialized purposes. Some dog trainers also work with owners to teach them how to train their own pets.

Dog trainers typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work evenings or weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules. They may also work overtime to complete training programs or to meet deadlines for certification or competition. The work can be physically demanding, and dog trainers may be bitten or scratched by dogs during training sessions. They may also be exposed to unpleasant smells and noise from barking dogs.

Minimum qualifications

There are no formal educational requirements to become a dog trainer. However, a high school diploma or its equivalent is a requirement for most businesses. Some aspiring dog trainers may earn a degree in a field like animal care or animal science. Most employers seek candidates with experience working with animals and certification rather than higher-level education.

Dog trainers can gain training through internships or entry-level positions in the field. Internships allow students to gain hands-on experience working with dogs in a professional setting. Entry-level positions, such as dog groomer or dog walker, provide opportunities to learn the basics of dog training.

Dog trainers can also seek out training opportunities outside of work. Many dog trainers attend seminars and conferences to learn about the latest techniques and methods. They can also read books and online articles to learn more about dog training.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Dog trainer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Dog trainer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to dog trainer.

horse trainer
guide dog instructor
animal trainer
animal handler
dog breeder

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of dog trainer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of dog trainer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

animal hydrotherapist
animal massage therapist
animal embryo transfer technician
alternative animal therapist
animal therapist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of dog trainer.

  • Biosecurity related to animals: Awareness of hygiene and bio-security measures when working with animals, including causes, transmission and prevention of diseases and use of policies, materials and equipment.
  • Dog behaviour: Natural behavioural patterns of dogs, how normal and abnormal behaviour might be expressed according to dog breeds, environment, human-animal interaction and occupation.
  • Signs of animal illness: Physical, behavioural and environmental signs of health and ill health in various animals.
  • Animal welfare legislation: The legal boundaries, codes of professional conduct, national and EU regulatory frameworks and legal procedures of working with animals and living organisms, ensuring their welfare and health.
  • Animal welfare: Universally recognized animal welfare needs as applied to species, situation and occupation. These are:
    • need for a suitable environment
    • need for a suitable diet
    • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
    • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
    • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
  • Physiology of animals: The study of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical and biochemical functioning of animals, their organs and their cells.
  • Anatomy of animals: The study of animal body parts, their structure and dynamic relationships, on a level as demanded by the specific occupation.
  • Animal behaviour: The natural behavioural patterns of animals, i.e. how normal and abnormal behaviour might be expressed according to species, environment, human-animal interaction and occupation.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of dog trainer.

  • Treat animals ethically: Carry out activities according to accepted principles of right and wrong, including transparency in work practices and conduct towards clients and their animals.
  • Provide an enriching environment for animals: Provide an enriching environment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, and including adjusting environmental conditions, delivering feeding and puzzle exercises, and implementing manipulation, social, and training activities.
  • Provide first aid to animals: Administer emergency treatment to prevent deterioration of the condition, suffering and pain until veterinary assistance can be sought. Basic emergency treatment needs to be done by non-veterinarians prior to first-aid provided by a veterinarian. Non-veterinarians providing emergency treatment are expected to seek treatment by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Protect health and safety when handling animals: Protect health and welfare of animals and their handlers.
  • Manage animal hygiene: Plan and use appropriate hygiene measures to prevent transmission of diseases and ensure an effective overall hygiene. Maintain and follow hygiene procedures and regulations when working with animals, communicate site hygiene controls and protocols to others. Manage the safe disposal of waste according to destination and local regulations.
  • Implement exercise activities for animals: Provide exercise opportunities that are suitable for respective animals and meet their particular physical requirements.
  • Monitor the welfare of animals: Monitor animals’ physical condition and behaviour and report any concerns or unexpected changes, including signs of health or ill-health, appearance, condition of the animals’ accommodation, intake of food and water and environmental conditions.
  • Assess animal behaviour: Observe and evaluate the behaviour of animals in order to work with them safely and recognise deviations from normal behaviour that signal compromised health and welfare.
  • Provide animal training: Provide training in basic handling, habituation, and obedience to enable the completion of day-to-day tasks while minimising the risks to the animal, the handler, and others.
  • Implement training programmes for animals: Implement training programmes for animals for basic training purposes or to meet specific objectives, following a developed training programme, and reviewing and recording progress against set objectives.
  • Advise on animal welfare: Prepare and provide information to individuals or groups of people on how to promote the health and well-being of animals, and how risks to animal health and welfare may be reduced. Provide recommendations for corrective actions.
  • Train animals and individuals to work together: Train animals and individuals to work together, including the match between individuals and animals, the design of integrated training programmes for people and animals, implementation of integrated training programmes, evaluation of integrated training programmes for people and animals against agreed outcomes and evaluating the compatibility between individuals and animals in relation to physical characteristics.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dog trainer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Advise customers on usage of care products for pets: Provide advice on basic care products, such as supplements and vitamins, that can be used on various types of pets.
  • Advise customers on appropriate pet care: Provide information to customers on how to feed and care for pets, appropriate food choices, vaccination needs, etc.
  • Evaluate dogs: Assess whether certain dogs are ready to work as a guide dog or not, whether certain dogs should be withdrawn from the training programme, need extra training or a different approach, etc.
  • Bathe dogs: Prepare dog by removing excess hair, knots and tangles. Bathe and clean a dog’s coat and skin.
  • Design training programmes for individuals and animals: Develop programmes to train humans and animals work together. Set objectives and targets. Evaluate the implementation of the training programme and progress by both the person and animal concerned.
  • Provide nutrition to animals: Provide food and water to animals. This includes preparing food and water for animals and reporting any changes in the animal feeding or drinking habits.
  • Assess the compatibility of individuals and animals to work together: Ensure work harmony between humans and animals, regarding to physical characteristics, capacity, temperament and potential.
  • Advise on animal purchase: Advise clients and customers on the purchase of animals.
  • Assist in transportation of animals: Assist with the transportation of animals, including the loading and unloading of animals, the preparation of the transport vehicle, and maintaining the wellbeing of the animal throughout the transport process.
  • Assess animal’s condition: Inspect the animal for any external signs of parasites, disease or injury. Use this information to determine own actions and report your findings to owners.
  • Make decisions regarding the animal’s welfare: Make a choice from several alternative possibilities that promote the animal’s well-being.
  • Design plans to address undesirable behaviour in animals: Gather information about the animal behaviour issues, interpret relevant information about the animal, assess the impact of external factors, and assess husbandry/management practices on the animal to develop a plan which tackles undesirable behaviour.
  • Create animal records: Create animal records according to industry relevant information and using appropriate record keeping systems.
  • Select therapy animals: Identify the right animal with the right temperament appropriate for the therapy.
  • Maintain animal accommodation: Make sure animal enclosures such as habitats, terrariums, cages or kennels are in the appropriate and hygienic condition. Clean the enclosure and provide new bedding material if called for.
  • Develop an animal handling strategy: Develop plans and strategies to deal with the animal in order to achieve established goals and optimal results.
  • Work with veterinarians: Consult veterinarians and assist them in the examination and nursing of animals.

ISCO group and title

5164 – Pet groomers and animal care workers

  1. Dog trainer – ESCO
  2. Dog Trainer Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Learn About Being a Dog Trainer |
  4. Featured image: Photo by manu mangalassery
Last updated on November 26, 2022

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