How Do I Become a Dog Behaviorist?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2018
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A dog behaviorist, sometimes referred to as a trainer, studies, analyzes, and molds dog behavior. Most jurisdictions do not set requirements for people who take on this job, but you will likely need some type of training and experience to become a dog behaviorist, which you can get by enrolling in a dog training school, self-teaching with books and videos, or working with an established animal behaviorist. You might also consider certification, which may make you more attractive to employers and potential clients.

One of the most important things you will need to become a dog behaviorist is comfort working with and handling dogs of various breeds, temperaments, and sizes. Owning dogs can provide a good start towards gaining the type of experience and comfort you will need. You may also walk other people’s dogs to gain experience or volunteer at an animal shelter or hospital for this purpose.

To pursue this career, you might choose to enroll in a dog training school, though many people seek training in other ways. For example, you can self-educate yourself about dog behavior and training through books and instructional videos. You might also enroll in classes or workshops that prepare you to become a dog behaviorist without requiring you to enroll in a particular school. Alternatively, you might take a job working with an established animal behaviorist in order to learn about the job through observation and hands-on practice.


Certification isn't usually mandatory, but you might find it helpful as you begin this career. By evaluating certification requirements, for example, you can determine any areas in which your knowledge or experience is lacking. Then, when you feel ready to become a dog behaviorist, you can arrange to take a certification exam. Usually, voluntary certification involves proving you have training and experience, providing references, and passing an examination. The subjects covered on a certification exam will likely depend on the organization with which you seek a credential but often include topics like anatomy of canines, behavior evaluation, health and safety, life cycles, and training skills.

Once you’ve secured training and any desired certification, you can apply for a job as a dog behaviorist. You might find available jobs with pet consulting companies, kennels, animal doctors, or pet stores that offer training and behavioral consulting to their customers. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you might also consider starting your own dog training business. In such a case, you will need plans for marketing yourself to business owners, a location for training, and possibly a business license and insurance.



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