Are you thinking about becoming a protection dog trainer? Protection dog trainers raise and train dogs to bring out their protective instincts. This career can be highly physical, requires analytical skills, strong coordination, good judgment, and of course, lots of patience. It can also be the most rewarding job you’ll ever have.
Let’s go over what it takes to become a protection dog trainer.
What Are Their Duties?
As a dog trainer, you are directly responsible for choosing the best dogs to become the companions of law enforcement officials, military members, and others who need the safety and security of a protection dog.
As a trainer, your first duty will be to evaluate a dog to determine whether it has the temperament and ability to become a top-class protection dog. You’ll need to determine whether a candidate will respond to voice commands and instantly obey in every situation. Rowdy or untrainable dogs will need to be weeded out of your program.
What will you train dogs to do?
You’ll teach dogs to respond to verbal commands in English or another language. You’ll use positive reinforcement while training. You’ll teach dogs to appear threatening while protecting their charges. Dogs will also learn not to attack unless directly commanded.
As a trainer, you’ll not only work with dogs, but you’ll need to train the dog’s handler in the techniques and commands the dog has learned. You’ll help both dog and trainer to work as a team to confidently handle stressful situations they’ll face.
On the back end:
You might need to take care of the paperwork, marketing, bookkeeping, billing, and communicating with potential clients.
If you are part of a well-established training company, many of these tasks might be done for you. When running your own company, the paperwork and marketing will fall to you.
Are There Training Requirements?
If you’re looking for a mid-life career switch, or you’re simply tired of the corporate workplace and want a change of pace, you’re in for some good news!
There are no degree programs required to start your career in protection dog training. You will benefit highly from individual courses that teach you about animal psychology and behavior, in addition to human behavior. The more you understand about the way dogs think and act, and understand how people respond to them, the better job you’ll do training.
To get started on your career, look for a company or trainer who is willing to take you on as an apprentice. This is perhaps the best way to get involved in the field of protection dog training. You’ll be able to learn the best of what to do and what not to do in training, as well as how to run your business.
Many trainers run their own businesses, making them perfect people to learn from for insider understanding, tips, and tricks for running your own. The more you can learn from someone who is already doing what you want to do, the better tie you’ll have when you launch your own business and dog training career.
If you’re looking for programs and certifications to give yourself an edge up in the field of dog training, there are several to choose:
- Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT – KA)
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge and Skills Assessed (CPDT – KSA)
- National Association of Professional Canine Handlers
- Master Trainer Certificate
- Association of Pet Dog Trainers
- Seminars and other opportunities offered
Any courses, certificates, or training opportunities that help you learn more about the history of dog training, the ways dogs learn, and insights into dog behavior will go a long way in your career.
This is a field that you should not enter unprepared, so the more education you receive, the better you’ll do.
If you’re just starting out and you’re unsure if you want to commit to a fulltime career, start volunteering at a local animal shelter. Get as much experience as you can working with a wide variety of dog breeds.
If you find you aren’t comfortable working with large dogs, you might want to become a regular pet dog trainer instead of a protection dog trainer. Protection dogs will always be large breed animals.
Regular pet dog trainers can specify the types of breeds they work with. Protection dog trainers, on the other hand, will have no choice and often work with Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, and other sizable dog breeds.
What Types of Certification Are Available?
No specific licensing is required to become a protection dog trainer. However, if you want to become a profession and leader in your industry, it is wise to pursue certifications. Many who would hire you will want to ensure that you are adequately prepared to train their dogs.
You’ll be training animals acquired to potentially save someone’s life. Their training must be top-notch – lives literally depend on it.
There are several options for certification. As mentioned above, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers offers two options: Knowledge Assessed, and Knowledge and Skills Assessed.
As a trainer, you can qualify for the first of the two by proving a minimum of 300 hours of experience as a dog trainer, with 75% of those hours spent leading class as head trainer. You’ll also need to pass an examination.
To qualify for the second certificate, you’ll need a minimum of 500 hours as a head trainer and pass an exam.
Is This the Career for You?
With this dynamic and rewarding career, you can sleep each night knowing the dogs you train will one day be put to work, saving lives and helping law enforcement and military personnel stay safe. What a great feeling!
We hope this article has given you a good understanding of what it takes to become a protection dog trainer. Now that you know more about this exciting opportunity, what will you decide? Is this career right for you?