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Careers in Canine Behavior & Training

What is Canine Training & Behavior all about?

Canine training emphasizes the shaping of desired behaviors through positive reinforcement. Training can greatly improve the quality of life for both dog and owner while creating a wonderful bond between them. Behavioral enrichment refers to the structuring of an animal’s environment to provide choices and promote natural behaviors. Enrichment enhances the quality of life by reducing stress and encouraging a range of healthy, natural behaviors. Together they constitute a comprehensive set of management tools; these tools are used by a wide variety of animal professionals.

So who needs to know the principles of canine behavior, training and enrichment? Nearly everyone that works with dogs on a daily basis! Here are a few examples.

Dog Trainers & Behavioral Consultants

Trainers working with dogs need to have a detailed knowledge of their behavior. They also need a deep toolbox of techniques that can be used to modify behaviors. Dealing with problem behaviors often requires changes to the environment or providing new outlets for natural behaviors being performed in inappropriate ways. Dog trainers usually run their own business although some work for a large employers, such as pet store chains.

Veterinary Technicians

Veterinary technicians deal with behavioral issues daily. Many owners may be creating health or behavioral problems simply because they don't understand their animals. A solid foundation in behavior and training allows veterinary staff to identify and correct many of these problems. A thorough understanding of behavioral principles can facilitate the dog’s voluntary cooperation with procedures and minimize anxiety in a stressful environment. Some technicians have developed behavioral specialties, learning to work with owners to structure the home environment in ways that improve behavior and increase their pet's welfare at home. Canine training should be part of the overall care of the dog; it provides an opportunity to increase communication between the veterinary practice and their patients.

Groomers, Pet Sitters, Kennel and Dog Daycare Staff

Anyone working with dogs needs to recognize and interpret their body language correctly. A solid understanding of canine behavior will allow them to anticipate problems before they develop, actively managing the environment to minimize fears & phobias. Good behavioral management allows us to gain our dogs’ trust, facilitating cooperation in grooming, nail trimming or other procedures without struggling. Furthermore, training can be offered to clients at your facility, providing an opportunity to provide new services or launch your own dog training business as well. 

The outlook for professional dog trainers and others working in animal care and service is excellent. Employment in these areas is expected to grow 15 percent over the 2012-22 decade (source: US Department of Labor). Salaries vary greatly based on the specific field or employer. For example, independent dog trainers may work for $25-50/hour or more.  Workers in other areas may earn significantly less.

Who hires dog trainers and behaviorists? They may be self-employed as trainers or behavioral consultants. Dog trainers may also work for veterinarians, the pet industry, animal shelters, kennels, animal control and the retail pet trade. Trainers may ultimately work training seeing eye or assistance dogs, show dogs, hunting dogs, personal protection dogs, or any number of specialized training programs. Sample positions include: 

  • Professional dog trainer
  • Behavioral consultant
  • Shelter workers
  • Veterinary technicians
  • Service dog trainer
  • Kennel technician
  • Dog day care staff
  • Groomer

If you have a professional interest in Canine Training & Behavior, you may want to explore one or more of these resources for additional information.

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