The Canine Behaviourist Blog

dog behaviourist training a dog

How To Become A Dog Behaviourist – What Does It Take?

Dog behaviourists teach dogs new tricks, train them for competitions, and help them overcome behavioural problems. They also provide training services for other professionals in the field.

In this post

How long does it take to be a Dog Behaviourist?

How do you become a Dog Behaviourist?

What Qualifications do I need?

How long does it take to be a Dog Behaviourist?

You could do this in 18 months if you join the CIDBT Fast-Track Programme.
Otherwise, the answer really depends on where you start, but let’s assume this is a new career from scratch. As a rough guide, you would be looking at one to two years of part-time, home or online study to cover practical and theory.

You can’t build a solid house without foundations, and this is true for working with canine behaviour – the foundation knowledge is critical to build upon. Following on from the study, you would need to have vocational practice for at least three years, preferably with a mentor, to reach a skilled level of practitioner. Therefore realistically, it should take at least five years to become a full time, financially independent, skilled dog behaviourist.

How do you become a Dog Behaviourist?

First things first, you need a passion and desire to do this job not only because study and time are needed but also because working with dogs and their owners can often be emotionally demanding.

Having a solid foundation in dog training, behaviour and instruction are critical. Also a good education facility is worth its weight in gold.  Education that can deliver the theory, as well as practical experience, is key, together with a variety of courses covering all aspects of the role, not only the dog training and psychology aspect but also business advice, money matters, consultation and everything surrounding a quality service, from receiving the first enquiry right through to receiving a great review.  Being able to train a dog is no good if you are unable to guide and support the owner into achieving the same results!

Finally, having a mentor or colleague to call on is also incredibly useful and something that is often overlooked.  Whether that is someone you meet during your studies, a supplied mentor from your education organisation or even your neighbouring behaviourist. Being able to call a colleague and discuss a case can sometimes be the difference between success and failure for an individual dog.

What qualifications do I need?

Actually none – currently this profession is unregulated, as such, official qualifications are not mandatory. Of course, that is not to say that they are not useful – with such an abundance of dog behaviourists in the UK, having a qualification under your belt may be the difference between the enquiring dog owner choosing you or not.

What do I need to know? might be a better question. Being a successful, effective and, of course, financially secure dog behaviourist is not just about knowing how to train a dog. Some of the subjects and skills needed would cover a range of abilities, such as understanding canine psychology, being an effective instructor, understanding how dogs and humans learn, effective fact-finding and problem-solving, communication and listening skills, a grounded knowledge of canine care, nutrition and physiology, a clear understanding of UK dog Law, an ability to put together and deliver a written report of your findings and ongoing plan. Of course, this is not an extensive list as there are many factors included in running your own business, but it’s a realistic start.

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