ClickerSolutions Training Articles

Resources for Potential Professional Trainers

I think you are off to a good start by taking the time to research and ask questions first before leaping into either getting personal dogs of your own, or jumping into decisions about training dogs for career purposes.

I don't recall if your post indicated where you are located in the U.S. -- but I put together a list of resources for someone back in March who was looking for more handsown experience in learning dog training (actually a veterinarian *smile*)>

While dog training (or any animal training) admittedly has a strong applied aspect -- and needs time to develop those *mechanical* skills -- I'm of the personal belief that there is real value in developing a solid understanding of some of the research that is available (whether that be behavioral, veterinary, or human).

Some programs that seem to have a comprehensive balance of these aspects are:

  1. SF-SPCA Dog Training program. There are folks on the list who have attended, and can give you personal feedback on this series. From all reports a good balance between classroom and applied experience with shelter dogs.
  2. Baileys progressive series of workshops on OC. *Not* dog specific -- and doesn't have the detailed information on what make dogs unique as a species -- but without peers in terms of the development and use of OC in training animals. (Note: These programs will not be aftered after summer, 2002.)
  3. Terry Ryan offers a series of workshops and seminars in WA (

These are all rather intensive, and not inexpensive routes to take. However, if someone was just starting out, I would consider it an investment, and worth taking a loan if necessary, to obtain the experience.

Other academic areas to consider where you could develop animal training experience/obervation -- and perhaps receive grant monies:

  1. University of North Texas (Denton, TX area -- just north of Dallas) -- has a Behavior Analysis group with animal training section that is increasingly active
  2. University of New Hampshire (or New Hampshire College) -- has Applied Animal Behavior program. Ray Coppinger works out of there and does quite of a bit of dog research.
  3. There are other universities that have academic programs in animal behavior -- typically in psych departments -- at the graduate level -- and if you wanted to consider that route, let me know off list, and I'll direct you to some resources.

There are also an increasing number of internship and volunteer options available -- particularly in the assistance dog training field. The majority of these are *NOT* clicker training (as defined by Karen P and this list) -- and DO use aversives in "proofing" and public access work.

Some available are:

  1. The in process SDES program developed by the Delta Society (initial workshops are now being offered at select locations)
  2. Bonnie Bergin has a Service Dog training program at her Assistance Dog Institute (typically 6-8 weeks in summer)
  3. Larger assistance dog programs (guide, service and hearing) are now offering internships or apprenticeship options.

If you want to travel overseas -- there are increasing options in U.K. and Europe.

Those are situations that have either an established curriculum, or program for apprenticeship.

You can also take the route of identifying a +P trainer and doing apprenticeship with them -- as well as volunteering to work with local shelter animals.

Just a personal note -- there is nothing wrong with the above, and many people have developed into excellent trainers making use of those options. However, given we are learning so much about animal behavior these days -- and are also finally dispelling many *myths* of dog behavior -- I would personally be inclined to go with one of the comprehensive dog training programs (probably SF-SPCA Dog Training Academy), to get a solid, objective, grounding in what I need to know. Then take that education and develop my applied skills working with shelter dogs, etc.

Again -- I'm not endorsing any one particular program, and with the exception of the Baileys -- cannot guarantee that no aversives are used. You will need to investigate that yourself if and when you choose to do your research on what the programs offer, and which might be best for you.

Good luck.

Kathleen Kisselburgh
copyright 2001 Kathleen Kisselburgh


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