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:confused:I am a dog trainer at a retail store and want to start out on my own. I want to become certified or continue my training in some way. I have found three paths that seem acceptable what do you think? Even if you would take one trainer background over another.

Animal Behavior College (ABC)
www.animalbehaviorcollege.com
Certification program, done mostly online (doing background on breeds, behavior) then you do an intership at a shelter and teach group classes. Takes about 11 months.
Tuition: $2865 (one time fee)

Mount Ida College
Canine Behavior and Training Certificate Progam
http://www.mountida.edu/sp.cfm?pageid=305
Certificaiton program, done at school with own dog, heres what it says on website:
Designed specifically for those with an interest in a career in canine behavior and training, the first course in the Canine Behavior and Traing Certification program is a lecture-based class and is taken in conjunction with a hands-on introductory course that implements the concepts discussed in the lectures. Subsequent courses are all hands-on and include AKC (American Kennel Club) obedience guidelines, the development of training programs, solving behavior problems and student involvement in obedience events.

In the final portion of the program students prepare a six-week, beginner obedience class. Students create a flyer with registration information which is mailed to the surrounding community, and under the supervision of an instructor, the students teach the class to the community participants.

--> tuition= $3800 total, 760.00 per class, 5 classes total.


Community college of Rhode Island (CCRI)
www.ccri.edu
Bachelors in Psychology. minor in animal science. Not ideal but would be a possible way and at least I have a bachelors degree.
Tuiton: $2500/semestor plus books, 20k total, would be on year two.



I am signing up to become a member of the American Pet Dog Trainers association (APDT) and plan on doing a few seminars but not sure what else to do. I have looked at Karen Pryors training camp but thats 5200 for the same thing as the ABC program.
 

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To open a doggy daycare and continue to teach classes at night. I'd like this to be a career. I do dog sports, show conformation and currently drive my dog in a sulky. I'd like to make that a more popular dog sport.
 

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My pick would be CCRI. It's the most expensive but, in the long run will be worth the price. It also leaves the door open to higher education and the background training is more substantial.
 

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My advice would be that if you don't have the money to pay for the programs, don't do it. I would never, ever, ever go into debt to learn how to train a dog (or do anything else for that matter), nor would I advise someone starting out to do so.

Book learning can only teach so much when it comes to training dogs. Every dog is different and methods that work like magic on one dog won't work at all on another dog of the same breed and age.

For me as the consumer, I couldn't care less about your training, certifications, etc.... I just want you to be able to train my dog. If you run a doggy daycare and do training on the side, then that is excellent, excellent word of mouth advertising right there. If you do a great job of keeping my dog at your daycare and I'm looking for a trainer, you're the first person I'm going to look for.

Better yet, if you're wanting to get started now, put an ad on craigslist, or print out some business cards, grab your well-behaved and well-trained dog and go down to the local dog park or other place where dog owners hang our and pass out cards. There's a lady here locally that advertises on craigslist offering a free group session in a park once a month weather permitting. You e-mail her to sign up and she provides the location of the park she's holding the session in. The session lasts 30-45 minutes and at that point, she offers more lessons at a price. People have already seen her training techniques, abilities, success rate, etc.... at that point and are inclined to hire her for more extensive training.

Again, please, please, please for the love of all that's holy, don't go into debt to do this. Don't do it. For something like this, real world experience is far, far more important than book learning IMHO. Yes, you should know something about operatant conditioning, classical conditioning, learning theory, etc.... but all of this can easily be acquired by reading books. The ability to apply this and actually train a dog can only be learned from experience, not in the classroom.
 

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I have been unsuccessful in finding a mentor, everyone I have asked has said "oh I went to this school" or "Try this training program". I am just not sure what else to do to further my education. When I go to school I assume psychology is the right thing (we all learn in very similar ways) and I should take bio classes and business? Is bio worth it? Is a trainer who does other things a good plan? (should I learn how to groom, or get a vet tech degree?) It feels like I can't get any credit, especially since I am so easily dismissed when I say where I work, its almost like the plague lol. But it pays the bills :)
 

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Community college of Rhode Island (CCRI)
www.ccri.edu
Bachelors in Psychology. minor in animal science. Not ideal but would be a possible way and at least I have a bachelors degree.
Tuiton: $2500/semestor plus books, 20k total, would be on year two.
Do you mean community college as a start towards a Bachelor's degree? As far as I know you can only get an Associate's degree from a community college.

If a four year degree is an option in your pursuit for continuing education, I'd most definitely suggest that. It will give you more options in the certifications you can seek in being a professional. Because, in spite of what other's have said, I would be interested in your credentials if you're handling my precious dog. Tons of ability is great, but tons of ability and acting as a professional (collecting certs and degrees) is more valuable to me, IMO.

Joining the APDT is a good step. You'll be in contact with hundreds, if not thousands of trainers, and be able to ask this exact question of them. You're likely to get as many different answers as trainers. What's best for you is dependent on your resources and interests.
 

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I would start with my associates, then move to another college to get my bachelors. I only need two more semisters to get my associates, then I'd probably go to URI or another college in the area.
 

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I have been unsuccessful in finding a mentor, everyone I have asked has said "oh I went to this school" or "Try this training program". I am just not sure what else to do to further my education. When I go to school I assume psychology is the right thing (we all learn in very similar ways) and I should take bio classes and business? Is bio worth it? Is a trainer who does other things a good plan? (should I learn how to groom, or get a vet tech degree?) It feels like I can't get any credit, especially since I am so easily dismissed when I say where I work, its almost like the plague lol. But it pays the bills :)
This is a good thing IMO. I would avoid credit altogether. I have spoken to people before who have tried to start businesses and they have failed for whatever reason (discovered this wasn't what they wanted, couldn't get customers, bad financial managing, whatever) and they found themselves stuck with $70-80k in debt as a constant reminder of their failed business. Bad times. Don't do it.

I disagree with Curbside Prophet when it comes to certifications, etc..., but every consumer will be different. I'm a computer tech by trade. I've got a handful of certifications to my name. I've never had a client ask what certifications I've got. They care if I can fix their computer and that's it.

I really think your best advertisement in a dog training world is a dog that is well trained. If you show up to train my dog and have no dog at all, I'm going to be skeptical. If you show up with a dog that's hyperactive, easily distracted, doesn't listen, etc... I'm not interested at all. If you show up with a well-behaved and well trained dog then I'm intrigued. As a matter of fact, personally, I'm more interested in what certifications your dog has. If your dog has his CGC or TDI or has won agility titles or whatever, that speaks to me of your training ability more than any certifications you've got.

CM has no formal training at all in dog training, but people line up to have him work with their dogs. This is not because he present academic studies that show the effectiveness of his techniques (he can't because they don't exist), but because he has a string of clients who will testify to how effective he is with dogs.
 

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Based on what you've written, I can only tell you what I'd do in your situation. Please take this with a grain of salt...or five.

Since you are planning on opening a business already working towards your associates degree, I would shift focus to business administration at the outset. You can always parley those credits towards a Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Animal Science, providing you are honest with your counsellor about long term goals. I would continue working at the retail store during this time and spend as much time building relationships with customers as I did with working with the dogs.

You can gather alot of business acumen in a traditional education environment. It will provide you with a good basis for administering your business as well as provide you with an understanding of the insurance, payroll, OSHA and other employment laws.

After finishing off the associates degree, I would shift my focus to building the startup and go for the Canine Behavior and Training Certificate program at Mount Ida. Go full tilt in grabbing all those contacts you made at the retail store. Solicit references from past customers. Advertise at local shops and try the business on for size. Continue working at the retail store.

If, at this point, your business takes off you will be reasonably prepared for the business end of things as well as the training due to your practical, hands-on, experience. If the business doesn't take off, you're still closer to your goal of a Bachelors in Psychology as you should receive some credit for the certification program.

That's about two years in the future and I'd leave that open for re-evaluation at that time.

The most successful people I've met didn't spend their entire education pouring their brains onto the pages of books. Your ultimate goal, even if the business does take off, is to get that bachelors degree...because that bachelors will translate into other opportunities and increased respect at the bank.

I'm starting to ramble, so I'll leave it at that.

Best,

Rand
 

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Let's say you had a dog you wanted training for agility. You call me up because you've heard of me from a business card at a dog park or a friend of yours recommended me or whatever. I come over to your house to meet you and I have a dog with me who is clearly well-trained and well-behaved. I show you pictures, awards ect... that my dog has won in agility competitions. I show you pictures of other dogs who I have also won awards with in agility but who have since retired from competing. You ask me what formal training I have and I admit that I don't have any. You're not going to consider hiring me to train your dog in agility?
 

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Most training of dogs is of the very basic sort. WVasko does this for a living and he says on the forum that he does "kindergarten" for dogs. Fact is, every pro trainer I talk to says that the basics (sit, down, stay, come here and walking on a loose leash) are their bread and butter. The next most common "problem" is leash aggressive behavior. That is what I hear.

Now, regardless of your dog training abilities you will need business abilities. A business plan, accounting skills, insurance, ability to understand a balance sheet and loss/profit statements. Business skills are essential or you will likely fall flat.. and that can really hurt. Love does not run a business. Money does. Appearance does. Efficient operation does. Location does.

After you have a good solid understanding of business, you can consider a dog boarding and dog day care business.

NEXT consider training. For that you need experience and credentials. Titled dogs will do nothing but improve your success chances. Education is wonderful because it means you can learn from others and then apply that learning to dogs for experience. It is nice to get the basic ideas from a book so you don't reinvent the wheel. It is essential you do the work and actually train dogs as well.

At some point you will need a specialty. It can be anything from formal obedience to Search and Rescue or agility.. but you cannot expect to title dogs in all the various dog sports available to title in. You will need to choose one and focus on that and gradually expand your horizons from there.

It is a long road. Walk it slowly and work up to the goal or owning the Real Estate and you will succeed. Talk to successful people in the business and listen to their advice.. even the things you don't want to hear.
 

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Like Mr. Hulk, I abhor debt, always have. However, borrowing money for educational purposes is an exemption if you attain some degrees which makes you a more valuable person to an employer. From a financial point of view its likely the best investment you will ever make, and the earlier you start the more it will pay off.
I disagree with this entirely. Student loan debt is debt that simply will not go away. It's not bankruptable. You can't ever get rid of it. The only way to get rid of it is to pay it off or become permanently disabled. The former can be avoided by not getting the debt in the first place and the latter is something that should obviously be avoided.
 
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