Dog obedience trainers are professionals who teach dogs, and instruct owners on how to handle their pets. In particular, they train dogs to respond consistently to commands. Many trainers have certification from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) or the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI), though this is not technically a requirement to become a dog trainer. Dog obedience trainers may work with individuals or in group classes.
Those who want to become dog obedience trainers generally have a high school diploma or equivalent. They may then choose to pursue further education; many trade schools and community colleges are now offering dog obedience trainer programs that educate potential trainers, and prepare them for the certification exam. In these programs, the students will learn various methods for training, such as positive reinforcement and conditioning. They will also learn about dog behavior and methods of communication.
After successfully completing the program, students will sit for the APDT or NADOI exam, and may then begin advertising their services as dog obedience trainers. Some trainers are self-employed, while others may be employed with shelters, pet stores, or other companies that offer dog training services. Dog obedience trainers may work with clients and their pets individually, generally charging a set hourly fee. Most clients will need more than one session with their dogs. Other trainers may teach group classes, where a small group of clients and their dogs will learn at the same time.
Some clients may choose group classes because they tend to be less expensive than individual sessions with a trainer. In addition, they generally last for a set period of time and will focus on a specific topic, such as training a new puppy, teaching basic obedience, or learning more advanced commands. Dog obedience trainers are generally able to teach all types of classes. Some dog obedience trainers may focus primarily on training dogs to perform tricks, such as for dog shows. Others may focus on dealing with behavioral problems, such as barking or biting.
In addition to working with clients and their pets, dog obedience trainers who work at a shelter may simply work directly with the dogs waiting to be adopted. A dog with a grasp of basic commands, the ability to walk well on a leash, and the ability to interact safely which children and other pets is a dog that is much more likely to be adopted. An obedience trainer will be able to work with shelter dogs who may need some instruction, and help them to be placed in appropriate homes. In addition, the trainer will be able to give a potential adoptive family a great deal of additional information about a specific dog's personality and needs.