List of Roles: 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.

Minimum vocational training requirements As a dog trainer As a dog instructor Dogs Handled Hours Required
Theory / academic knowledge
Reading for interest 150 150
Watching DVDs/Videos 50 50
Coursework 250 250
Practical experience / courses attended
Courses attended 100 100 200
Individual dogs trained 150 150 (dogs)
Breeds handled - minimum 20 20 (breeds)
Mentored learning
Observation of / attending training / classes 150 150
Instructed learning one-to-one 200 200
Teaching assistant: adult dog classes 50 50
Teaching assistant: puppy classes 100 100
Totals 900 250 150 1150

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.

Theoretical
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.

Practical
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.

Operational
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.

Continuity:
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.

Accomplishments and Qualifications

Theoretical

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

Personal (Work Based) Achievements

KC Competition obedience

KC Beginner
KC Novice
KC A B C comp-C

KC Agility
KC Working Trials

UD/UDX
CD/CDX
WD/WDX

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 Trainer, 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 dog we are training. Sometimes we change our position, the dog’s position, the motivating force (us, toy, food etc.,) or the equipment we use. As a dog trainer we just call that dog training, however, in the work based learning arena it’s called being a “reflective practitioner”.

It is imperative that Dog Trainers realise that they are reflecting back; not only with the dog they have in front of them but of past cases and dogs they’ve worked with. A Dog Trainer cannot progress without this aspect of experiential learning, it would be impossible as no two dogs are the same 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 Trainers, 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” i.e., 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.