Stan Rawlinson
Dog Behaviourist & Obedience Trainer
The Original Doglistener
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Want to Be a Dog Trainer or Behaviourist?

How to become a Dog Trainer or Behaviourist

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Do you have what it takes to train "man's best friend?" In this VideoJug film, dog behaviorist and obedience trainer Stan Rawlinson explains the foundation you'll need to become a dog trainer.

Hi, my name is Stan Rawlinson, and I am a dog behaviorist and obedience trainer. This is Charlie. He is a little cross mongrel Jack Russel/Dachie, stretch limo Jack Russell, and today, I'll be talking about how to become a dog trainer. It's become very, very popular, a bit like in the past, when a lot of people went into landscape gardening.

Others went into interior design. It was a populist area to be. Well, at this moment in time, dog training and dog behavior is in that genre. And at the moment, I get more calls from people who want to do what I do for a living than perhaps anything else, other than dogs, of course, because I get that everyday. I think to be a good dog trainer, you don't have to have this amazing spark that some people are born with.

Some people are born with dogs that flock to them all over the place. It's quite an amazing skill that some people have got. But not all of them can communicate and put it across and train, which is such a shame because some people have got a brilliant handling skill but are not able to teach others.

But in order to become a dog trainer, you've got to not just teach dogs, but you've got to teach people and it's vital. If you really want to become a dog trainer, become involved, first of all, in rescue, just to see the problems that are coming in because of lack of training and early socialization. It will give you an amazing insight into what the dogs are. And handling them, walk people's dogs that you don't really know, help people out before you actually go into it, and then start looking into the education side of it.

So, first of all, look at whether you actually want to handle dogs and whether you want to take that chance that an aggressive dog is going to attack you. It's a possibility. It's a very strong possibility if, like me, you specialize in aggression. First of all, get yourself embroiled in it. Do I really like it? Can I handle dogs? Am I fearful of them? If I'm fearful of them, guess what? Those dogs will know you're fearful of them and will react against it and you will probably never become a good trainer.

Secondly, you've got to find whether you want to take a degree in it or whether you want to go down a different avenue and take examinations. But you are going to have to take examinations. At this moment in time, there is no formal requirement to take examinations or to have any letters after your name, but that is coming. That is definitely coming. I was sat in on a meeting called by CAWC, Companion Animal Welfare Council, and they're putting together strict guidelines on who can become trainers and behaviorists in the future.

There is a lot of places where you can go to. Look on the Internet. Some of them are not very good and some of them are excellent. And you are going to have to change and look at the wheat from the chaff on that. But there are lots and lots of educational areas you can go to, which will help your knowledge on the behavioral side of it. But one thing you must remember, dog training isn't just about dogs.

Dog training is about people, because as far as I am concerned, my training is 75% human and 25% dog. And guess what is the most difficult animal to train? It isn't the dog. If you're thinking it is, you're wrong. It's humans. So, also look at human psychology. If you can get some of that under your belt and study and read it, it will really help you as a dog trainer as well. But if you do go into the profession, it's a fabulous profession, and the amount of joy and pleasure you get out of it, if you're successful in it, is beyond all bounds. I do something I love for a living. I do. I look forward to going to work in the morning. Not everyone can say that. It is a fabulous profession but it is not as easy as it looks. Best of luck if you are hoping to become a dog trainer or behaviourist.