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How to Become a Guide Dog Trainer

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How to Become a Guide Dog TrainerProfessional dog trainers for the disabled do a lot more than just train dogs. They also work closely with the disabled person and become part of the disabled community. This makes getting an education and experience in both animal care and with the disabled valuable for becoming a guide dog trainer. There are several educational and work experience options you can pursue to make this your career.

Associate Degrees

Many positions do not require a four-year degree, but some college education is beneficial. Take courses in biology, animal training, animal behavior, human and health services, social services, and/or psychology to work towards an associate degree in one of these disciplines. Also, taking a course that allows you to train a rat or pigeon will give you a solid foundation of animal behavior and training concepts, which applies to training all animals including dogs.

Four-Year Degrees

Continuing your education to obtain a four-year degree will help you move up into a supervisor or management position once employed as a dog trainer. Like the associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree in a science or social services field will help prepare you for this career. You can also speak with your college’s career counselor to determine if the college has an internship program set up with a local organization that trains dogs for the disabled.

Volunteer Experience

May local humane societies, SPCAs, and other animal shelters have programs to work with pet owners and their pets, including dogs, to become certified therapy pets. These pets may visit hospitals, nursing homes, or even help children learn to read. Working with such a program, whether with your own pet or as a volunteer in the management of the program, will give you hands-on experience working with dogs and the disabled. This hands-on experience is often required of dog trainer applicants.

Prior Work Experience

Paid experience working with disabled kids or adults will also help you gain a position as a dog trainer for the disabled. This will give you an understanding of what it’s like living with a disability and how you can help disabled individuals. Also, any experience working with dogs in a professional setting, such as in a kennel or as a veterinary assistant, will look good on your resume.

Guide Dog Trainer Salary

A service dog trainer’s salary is not high. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the 2012 median pay for all animal trainers was $25,270. However because these dog trainers do required specialized knowledge and trainer, they can expect to make more as they become more experienced on the job.

When working towards becoming a guide dog trainer, also take the time to research the organizations that you would like to apply for a job at. Each organization has a specific focus as to which disability they work to help, such as those that are blind or deaf. Review that organization’s job postings for criteria and qualifications to make sure you are on the right path to obtaining the job of your dreams.

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