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Animal Training Academy Basics

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If you want to pursue a career in training animals, you may have looked around for an animal training academy in your area. Unfortunately, many cities lack a formal institution where you can learn animal training techniques. And almost no colleges or universities offer an animal trainer degree. You may be able to find an animal training academy in another city, state, region, or even country. However, for many people, moving to a new location for the weeks or months it will require to get an animal trainer education isn’t feasible. So what’s an animal lover to do?

One possibility is to complete an online animal training course. At first glance, it might seem strange to learn to train animals via the internet. But a good online animal training school will include interactive exercises to help you learn practical skills. Typically a good animal training course will begin with a foundation in animal psychology and training methods. Then it will progress to the practical application of what you have learned. Good online academies will also help you figure out how to get a job training animals, or even start your own business.

What is Animal Training?

In essence, animal training is the process of teaching animals to respond to cues from a human trainer. Based on these cues, the animals perform desired behaviors. It may also include teaching animals not to perform unwanted behaviors. Good animal trainers understand the psychology of the animals they train, and their primary drives and motivators.

Animal training should never be accomplished through fear and intimidation. Besides being cruel to the animal, fear-based training techniques are ineffective. They destroy the relationship of trust so important to good training. A good animal training academy will teach you how to understand the animals you train. You will learn to make use of their natural instincts and drives to help them do what you want them to do.

How to Become an Animal Trainer

By far the most common job training animals is being a dog trainer. Why? Because there are simply so many dogs in need of training. Practically anywhere people have pet dogs you can make a living as a dog trainer. And dog trainers who have a good certification and experience and know how to market themselves generally do quite well. Training horses is another relatively common career path for people who want to train animals. Finally, zoos, animal parks, and wild animal rescue organizations all employ people with experience training different kinds of animals.

Where to Find an Animal Training Job

Depending on your area, animal trainer jobs may be found on bulletin boards at your local pet store, veterinarian, or other animal-related venue. Also search on general online platforms like Indeed or Monster. You may even be able to use a specific online platform like Animal Jobs Direct. And don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals. Did you know that up to 80% of jobs end up being filled via personal networks? When you are looking for an animal-related job, tell everyone you know. You never know who might know someone who knows someone who has the perfect job for you.

Leverage the Experience You Have

Make yourself more marketable by brainstorming all your relevant animal experience. List it all on your resume. Is some of your experience unpaid? Don’t worry, it can still be valuable if it is relevant. What counts as experience with animals? Training your own puppy. Volunteering at an animal shelter or wildlife rescue. Pet sitting for a neighbor. Even just growing up with pets can sound good on your resume. You just need to present your experience and skills correctly.

Do you feel like you don’t have enough experience to build a convincing resume? Then it is definitely worth looking in to getting an animal handling certificate or other qualification. For a lot of people, a dog training certification is the way to go. Dog trainers are in demand everywhere. Potential clients with dogs are all around. And if you want to move into training exotic animals, dog training experience is a great thing to have.

What Makes a Good Animal Training Academy?

An animal training academy should start you out learning the basics of why animals behave the way they do. The CanineClub Academy’s dog training course, for instance, begins by exploring how dogs resemble their wild ancestors. We talk about how dogs think and what motivates them.

Course Curriculum

Whatever course you choose, make sure it teaches you what makes animals tick. Animal psychology can be remarkably similar across species. Our dog training course sometimes uses examples from training exotic and marine animals. That’s because training dogs employs many of the same techniques as training other animals. For example, we talk about marking a desired behavior. We explain how to chain simple behaviors together into complex ones. And we go over the importance of discovering and using primary and secondary reinforcers. All of these are equally valid whether you are training a dog, a dolphin, or a kinkajou.

Once you understand how animals think and what motivates them, you are ready for hands-on training. Look for a course that includes many interactive assignments. These activities will help you apply what you have learned. Our course, for example, includes exercises after every lesson. Students conduct a behavioral assessment. They train a dog to do a new trick. Other assignments include a practice vet exam and learning dog anatomy. Students are also asked to volunteer at an animal shelter and interview a prospective puppy owner. More advanced modules move on to more advanced training applications. All of these assignments are vital to remembering and applying concepts learned.

Individual Mentoring

You will want to find mentors all along the way if you are going to pursue a career as an animal trainer. Sometimes it can be as simple as sitting down with someone you know who trains animals. Ask for advice on concrete things to do to move toward you goal. Other mentoring relationships might be more formal. If you volunteer to gain animal trainer qualifications, your supervisor can be a mentor. You may undertake an internship or apprenticeship at a zoo, dog training company, or wildlife refuge. And of course if you study at an animal training academy your tutor or instructor should be an important mentor.

Therefore, you should be on the lookout for a dog or animal training course that includes mentoring. Ideally you will get individualized attention all through the course. Your tutor should be available to answer questions and give feedback. Mentoring should not end with the academic side. You will need at least as much help and advice as you start your animal training career. Looking for a job as an exotic animal trainer? Wanting to start your own dog training business? Your tutor should be available to help you start out and succeed.

Becoming an Animal Trainer

So are you ready to take your first step toward being an animal trainer? Choosing the right animal training academy will set you on the path to a rewarding life doing what you love. And a little time spent reflecting on the aspects above will allow you to make a better decision. You should base your choice on which animal training school will fit best with your life and career goals.

If you have a more specific question about your personal situation, we’d be happy to talk with you about your options and help you make a decision. Contact our career adviser at If you are ready now to start evaluating dog training courses, you can find out more about the CanineClub Academy’s “Certification Course in Dog Training” on our website,

"HOT Dog Agilty Trial March 2015"by recastle is licensed under CC BY 2.0
"Our baby Kinkajou, Digit"by MaRu180 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Animal Training Academy Basics

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