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I've been searching for a good Dog Training school/college for the last month. I saw several of them from advertisements on TV. I came across CCTA from just googling ''Dog Training Colleges'' so far from the small amounts of reviews I've read and the websites information I am very impressed. However I would like to know if this program is worth the money, or if I'm better off doing something else. From what I've heard you do both online work and shadow with a mentor (the program I was looking at was $3,945 /$4,950). I would really appreciate it if I could get some feedback from people who've graduated or have taken some classes from CCTA. I would also like some feedback from experienced trainers and what you think the best idea would be for me to pursue a career in Dog Training. I am currently drowning my brain in Zak George training videos and random books from the library. :(
 

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I'm also looking to go into the dog training industry. Currently I'm finishing up my bachelor's- I spent 2 years at a liberal arts college and had to leave because of a horseback riding injury, and in the fall will be going back to school at Bergin University of Canine Studies. I like the school because 1) it's geared towards teaching students how to train service dogs and 2) it offers bachelor's degrees. The president of the university is Bonnie Bergin, who was the woman who came up with the concept of service dogs in (I think) the 70's. It's a good way to get a foot in the door/get some contacts at the big-name service/guide dog schools in the area, and it's a way for me to get a bachelor's degree while studying in the field I want to and not having to take classes I don't really want to be in. Being that I would really like the get into service dog work it's perfect for me, and it's perfect because I was having trouble finding a bachelor's program I liked after deciding not to go back to the liberal arts school I was at. I liked what I've seen of the school so far in both talking to the admissions department and visiting- it matches my needs and I'm excited to go, but I'm not familiar enough with it to recommend it wholeheartedly either, although I would suggest looking into it if you're interested.

I'd never heard of CATCH before now. I looked at the website. They talk a big game, mostly about how they're "state certified", how you graduate with a "dog training certification" and how this certification will help advance your career.

The certification they're talking about it just a certificate issued through the school itself, from what I can tell. This, to me, means little to nothing. They seem to use very similar titles as CCPDT use, but it does seem to be a certificate from the school itself and not any other organization. I don't know if they're being intentionally misleading or not, but I would bring this up with an admissions counselor to see what they said (obviously more tactfully put than that). Their school library page has references that I would want to see in any training class, but it's also fairly basic stuff that IMO could probably be bought, read, and understood on your own. A lot of their staff is CPDT certified, and they seem to be teaching mainly with an eye towards passing the CPDT exam, so that may be a plus for you. They don't mention anything about whether or not their courses count towards Continuing Education credits for any of the organizations they belong to, which makes me think that they're mainly focused on getting people started in the career versus working with trainers to better themselves. This may or may not be a negative to you.

I'm not super impressed with their their "state certification"- to me it seems a little smoke and mirrors as it doesn't very clearly state what the certification is/who it's from/ what it's for, IMO- they just name drop a few governmental departments. From what I can tell, they're certified as a trade/vocational school. While maybe for some people this would be attractive, it doesn't do much for me, and I can assure you it won't get you any points among other trainers who have not heard of the school. In terms of whether of not it will get you ahead in the training world, I don't know how true that it is. IME, other trainers and vets will only respect program certifications if they know of the program. None of the trainers I know in NY had ever heard of Bergin University, and none of them really cared much when I explained it. I can assure you that after I graduate, they will care little to none about the fact that I have a bachelor's degree from them. That is not what is driving me to go, however.

Personally, I would be weary to involve myself in a program that matches me with a mentor. If I am going to be working with a mentor, I want the freedom to choose my own mentor. I want to know it's someone I can actually learn from and whose methodologies I respect. I would be worried about being stuck with someone I don't like, don't feel I'm learning from, or whose methods I disagree with.

I think when looking at programs, you really have to know exactly what you want to get out of them. You can get an education in dog behavior yourself through reading and research and working as an assistant to a trainer you respect. I would suggest making a list of what you want from a program and perhaps making some goals. For me, the core of any program should be about learning theory in both people and dogs (because a lot of being a dog trainer is teaching people), dog development and developmental periods, and common training methodologies and their strengths and issues. I think it's also important that they focus specifically on the methodology you're most interested in- for me, that is positive reinforcement training/operant conditioning. I also think it's important to decide whether it's important to you that they go over common dog sports. It doesn't seem that this program really focuses on it at all. Recreational agility has become more popular recently, as is the "urban Barkour" agility-type stuff that has recently started to come on the market (mainly teaching reboud targets off walls, from what I can tell, and teaching dogs to jump over and climb over/on top of obstacles on command)- it can be a money maker to have some basic knowledge (or better yet in depth knowledge) of these things. So, what are you looking for in a program?

Two programs I've known people to be involved with and like are Starmark (an assistant trainer that taught in an obedience class I was in went there for the 12 week program, and I like there website from what I've seen of it), and Karen Pryor Academy (which I REALLY like). KPA has pretty good name recognition in a lot of circles as well.

Keep in mind that the biggest marketing tool you will have is your own dog- I regularly get asked whether I'm a trainer/teach classes/see clients when I'm out training my own dog. She's 9 months old, so I'm still doing a lot of focusing exercises and loose leash walking exercises with her in public, busy places and I happen to live in a big city so if I want to train outside my house or back yard, I'm going to end up being in a relatively busy place.
 

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Don't waste your money. The only dog training program I'd recommend and a few posters here have taken is Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers or Karen Pryor's program. I didn't do that, I'm self-taught and was able to find a mentor just by networking and asking if I could shadow. Eventually I got a training job at a pet supply chain (which, by the way, is how Zak George started his career!) and went through their rigorous study, examination, and mentorship program. Now I run my store's entire dog training department and I'm the head trainer.

Point is, there's more than one way to become a trainer and be VERY careful about who you give your money to. It's often not worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks guys, this information was very helpful and I will check out the programs listed above. :D I just looked them up and unfortunately theres nobody in my area. So I guess those places are out of the question. Thats what seems to be the biggest problem for me is finding someone in my area. Theres lots of dog kennels here but most of the programs I've looked into don't go through any of them. .-.
 

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Ask if they know any trainers, contact those trainers and tell them you want to be a trainer and you'd like to become an apprentice. All you need to become a trainer is knowledge and experience. The way to get that is to read as much as you can and train a lot of dogs. When I had all knowledge but no experience, shadowing a trainer made the biggest difference. It may take a while, but while you search for someone to teach you, read everything you can. There are book lists on this forum, read those, pick up a basic psychology textbook and read about learning theory. Find a free online course on psychology and animal behavior. Use these resources to your advantage, so that you can go into it already having an understand of how a dog's mind works. Trainers will take you more seriously if you can demonstrate how dedicated you are to the job, it makes their job as your mentor easier and you'll progress faster.

Edit: I just want to make it clear that this is what worked for ME and you might have a different experience. In some areas it's hard to be taken seriously if you're not "certified." There is no official certification for dog trainers and it is an unregulated industry. That's why I say become as educated as possible beforehand. I am certified through my job, meaning I met the company's required standards in knowledge and experience, but nobody has asked if I am or through whom so far, they just know I have passion for the work and have a lot of knowledge to share and that makes them happy. I also have a dog who I've put a lot of work into in order to show people my skills as applied to my own dog.
 

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I'm currently a Junior at The Academy for Dog Trainers. Highly recommend it. Jean Donaldson is very hands on with every student's learning, it's a very heavily science and evidence based program, and the community support is just fabulous. If you have any questions about it, feel free to message me!
 

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I'm also looking to go into the dog training industry. Currently I'm finishing up my bachelor's- I spent 2 years at a liberal arts college and had to leave because of a horseback riding injury, and in the fall will be going back to school at Bergin University of Canine Studies. I like the school because 1) it's geared towards teaching students how to train service dogs and 2) it offers bachelor's degrees. The president of the university is Bonnie Bergin, who was the woman who came up with the concept of service dogs in (I think) the 70's. It's a good way to get a foot in the door/get some contacts at the big-name service/guide dog schools in the area, and it's a way for me to get a bachelor's degree while studying in the field I want to and not having to take classes I don't really want to be in. Being that I would really like the get into service dog work it's perfect for me, and it's perfect because I was having trouble finding a bachelor's program I liked after deciding not to go back to the liberal arts school I was at. I liked what I've seen of the school so far in both talking to the admissions department and visiting- it matches my needs and I'm excited to go, but I'm not familiar enough with it to recommend it wholeheartedly either, although I would suggest looking into it if you're interested.

I'd never heard of CATCH before now. I looked at the website. They talk a big game, mostly about how they're "state certified", how you graduate with a "dog training certification" and how this certification will help advance your career.

The certification they're talking about it just a certificate issued through the school itself, from what I can tell. This, to me, means little to nothing. They seem to use very similar titles as CCPDT use, but it does seem to be a certificate from the school itself and not any other organization. I don't know if they're being intentionally misleading or not, but I would bring this up with an admissions counselor to see what they said (obviously more tactfully put than that). Their school library page has references that I would want to see in any training class, but it's also fairly basic stuff that IMO could probably be bought, read, and understood on your own. A lot of their staff is CPDT certified, and they seem to be teaching mainly with an eye towards passing the CPDT exam, so that may be a plus for you. They don't mention anything about whether or not their courses count towards Continuing Education credits for any of the organizations they belong to, which makes me think that they're mainly focused on getting people started in the career versus working with trainers to better themselves. This may or may not be a negative to you.

I'm not super impressed with their their "state certification"- to me it seems a little smoke and mirrors as it doesn't very clearly state what the certification is/who it's from/ what it's for, IMO- they just name drop a few governmental departments. From what I can tell, they're certified as a trade/vocational school. While maybe for some people this would be attractive, it doesn't do much for me, and I can assure you it won't get you any points among other trainers who have not heard of the school. In terms of whether of not it will get you ahead in the training world, I don't know how true that it is. IME, other trainers and vets will only respect program certifications if they know of the program. None of the trainers I know in NY had ever heard of Bergin University, and none of them really cared much when I explained it. I can assure you that after I graduate, they will care little to none about the fact that I have a bachelor's degree from them. That is not what is driving me to go, however.

Personally, I would be weary to involve myself in a program that matches me with a mentor. If I am going to be working with a mentor, I want the freedom to choose my own mentor. I want to know it's someone I can actually learn from and whose methodologies I respect. I would be worried about being stuck with someone I don't like, don't feel I'm learning from, or whose methods I disagree with.

I think when looking at programs, you really have to know exactly what you want to get out of them. You can get an education in dog behavior yourself through reading and research and working as an assistant to a trainer you respect. I would suggest making a list of what you want from a program and perhaps making some goals. For me, the core of any program should be about learning theory in both people and dogs (because a lot of being a dog trainer is teaching people), dog development and developmental periods, and common training methodologies and their strengths and issues. I think it's also important that they focus specifically on the methodology you're most interested in- for me, that is positive reinforcement training/operant conditioning. I also think it's important to decide whether it's important to you that they go over common dog sports. It doesn't seem that this program really focuses on it at all. Recreational agility has become more popular recently, as is the "urban Barkour" agility-type stuff that has recently started to come on the market (mainly teaching reboud targets off walls, from what I can tell, and teaching dogs to jump over and climb over/on top of obstacles on command)- it can be a money maker to have some basic knowledge (or better yet in depth knowledge) of these things. So, what are you looking for in a program?

Two programs I've known people to be involved with and like are Starmark (an assistant trainer that taught in an obedience class I was in went there for the 12 week program, and I like there website from what I've seen of it), and Karen Pryor Academy (which I REALLY like). KPA has pretty good name recognition in a lot of circles as well.

Keep in mind that the biggest marketing tool you will have is your own dog- I regularly get asked whether I'm a trainer/teach classes/see clients when I'm out training my own dog. She's 9 months old, so I'm still doing a lot of focusing exercises and loose leash walking exercises with her in public, busy places and I happen to live in a big city so if I want to train outside my house or back yard, I'm going to end up being in a relatively busy place.
That sounds like an amazing program at the Bergin University. I wish I wasn’t married otherwise I would go in an instant
 

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Are you working at Petsmart or Petco? Anybody can get a job there without even have any dog training experience.
Don't waste your money. The only dog training program I'd recommend and a few posters here have taken is Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers or Karen Pryor's program. I didn't do that, I'm self-taught and was able to find a mentor just by networking and asking if I could shadow. Eventually I got a training job at a pet supply chain (which, by the way, is how Zak George started his career!) and went through their rigorous study, examination, and mentorship program. Now I run my store's entire dog training department and I'm the head trainer.

Point is, there's more than one way to become a trainer and be VERY careful about who you give your money to. It's often not worth it.
 
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