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Work Based Learning role description:

The Dog Training Instructor

The Dog Training Instructor has acquired on the job vocational training in training dogs on a one to one basis, whether this is as a part time club trainer or a full/part-time professional dog trainer.

The emphasis on the Dog Training Instructor is one of training the owner to train the dog rather than training the dog themselves, as such the emphasis is on experience in people skills. The Dog Training Instructor will be an experienced dog trainer.

The Dog Training Instructor needs to have in-depth people training skills, people psychology skills and body language awareness. The Dog Training Instructor will have been formally trained in training the trainer (both puppy and dog) as well as having been a training assistant with a more experienced instructor as part of the mentoring process.

Administration and planning skills are essential as part of the role involves session planning and booking in clients.

Overview of minimum skills and experience required

The Dog Training Instructor will be an experienced Dog Trainer. As such the minimum skills and experience required apply.


How people learn, different learning styles.

Indicators of stress in people.

Human body language.

How to motivate, both at a group level and individually.

Teaching skills, both at a group level and individually.

Communication skills, verbally (in person and over the phone), written, active listening, both at a group level and individually.

Presentation skills.

Man management skills.

Time management skills.

Administration skills.


How people learn.

Indicators of stress in people.

Human body language.

How to motivate, both at a group level and individually.

Teaching skills, both at a group level and individually.

Communication skills, verbally (in person and over the phone), written, active listening, both at a group level and individually.

Presentation skills.

Man management skills.

Time management skills.

Administration skills.


Spatial awareness when training:

Awareness of other dogs, handlers or objects in the area whilst working with a  dog so as not to stress the dog by banging into things or moving across the path of another dog.

Environmental awareness when training:

A high awareness of events happening during training is crucial, for example knowing who is coming into the area and with what.


When training you need to be aware of change as and when it happens and be able to deal with it, for example if a dog is brought for training one week wearing a soft collar and a harness the next.

The Work Based Learning Path to being a Dog Training Instructor

In order to become a competent Dog Training Instructor you must first of all be able to competently train a dog yourself and give instruction to a dog owner on training their own dog. This could be on a one to one basis or in a class situation and the training experience can be in any discipline.

You need to have worked alongside an experienced instructor as an assistant trainer. Only when you have been an assistant trainer and have been mentored whilst training dogs should you start instructing on your own.

Dog Trainer

Assistant trainer

Ancillary Work Based Learning Skills

As well as being an established Dog Trainer, the candidate may also have a plethora of other dog training skills, attended many courses and achieved many awards on a personal basis with their own dogs.

They may have qualifications outside of the dog training arena that contribute to their competence, confidence and skill as a Dog Trainer and, under the Work Based Learning ethos, these should be acknowledged and recognised as achievements to date within the profession.

PETbc: defining roles for dog behaviour and training

Minimum vocational training requirements

As a dog Trainer

As a dog instructor

Dogs handled

Total number of hours required

Theory / academic knowledge

Reading for interest



Watching DVDs






Practical experience / courses attended

Courses attended




Indvidual dogs trained


(150 dogs)

Breeds handled - minimum


(20 breeds)

Mentored learning

Observation of / attending training / classes



Instructed learning one-to-one



Teaching assistant: adult dog classes



Teaching assistant: puppy classes







Accomplishments and Qualifications

Training course providers

Personal (Work Based) Achievements

Cambridge Institute for Dog Behaviour & Training

Animal Care College

Guide dog training

National Association of Security Dog Users

Home Office police dog training

The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers

Other courses are also available

KC Competition obedience

KC Beginner

KC Novice

KC A B C comp-C

KC Agility

KC Working Trials




KC Field Trials

KC Bloodhound Trials

KC Herding Tests

Search & Rescue Cert

KC Accredited Instructor

The Kennel Club (KC) standards are some of the best in the world and to compete and win is an acknowledgement comparable with other high standards of training knowledge as in the horse world and international competitive events.

Reflective Learning

As a Dog Training Instructor, of any kind whether that’s club or professional, adult dogs or puppies, we are constantly evaluating what we are doing when we are doing it.

We start training an exercise and modify what we are doing depending upon the response we get from the owner & dog we are training. Sometimes we change their position, the dog’s position, the motivating force (toy, food etc.,) or the equipment used. As a Dog Training Instructor we just call that teaching, however, in the work based learning arena it’s called being a “reflective practitioner”.

It is imperative that Dog Training Instructors realise that they are reflecting back; not only with the relationship they have in front of them but of past cases and dogs they’ve worked with. A dog training instructor cannot progress without this aspect of experiential learning, it would be impossible as no two owners are the same and neither are their dogs and no two will react in the same manner.

Although we do it automatically, the importance of reflection in learning at work and awareness of the process, needs to be acknowledged for an individual to be able to carry out any kind of self-accreditation via the work based learning scheme.

Technical and textbook knowledge, though important, is insufficient to prepare individuals to be practising professionals. Knowing how or “knowing-in-action” must also be recognised as important. Knowing-in-action is referred to tacit and intuitive, rather than explicit knowledge, learned through doing rather than in the classroom. It is the kind of knowledge that underpins much everyday activity, whether at work or not.

Knowing-in-action is vital for dog training instructors, as, as we all know, ‘real’ world problems tend to be “messy” rather than well formed. Problems with dogs tend to come along in rapid succession depending upon our reaction rather than nicely organised “first solve this problem, then solve that” as is often written in dog training books. Also some problems may well be unique to that situation, in the sense that they do not fit theoretical categories and therefore do not lend themselves to the applications of rules from the profession’s theoretical knowledge base.

When something untoward does happen it is likely to reflect on what’s going on in the midst of the activity itself. It is a consequence of this process that is known as “reflection-in-action” ie., thinking about what we’re doing while we’re doing it and changing the process as we go along.

To be able to put into practice these reflective skills, both during and after the action, is what makes you a truly reflective practitioner. Donald Schon (1983, 1987)

Comparative Assessment elements:

In general an Animal Behaviour Degree will average 1800 hrs study time on wild animals and some domestic species. Dog specific theory is generally taught at less than 5% of the entire degree and rarely by a dog expert but by a teacher who has no practical experience. Animal behaviour degrees are not an expertise level in dog behaviour, training, theory or otherwise.

All vocational learning in canine work-based roles should be taught by highly skilled people with extensive hands-on experience. Degrees obtained, therefore, provide targeted theory learning in canine behaviour and training as well as extensive hands-on work to prepare the student for their chosen vocation.