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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What's the pinnacle of dog training?

I've been following the Jordan Shelley story and have seen him ask you what courses he should go on. I'd love to be the best dog trainer I can be, what are the best qualifications to take? Are there any that can be done remotely as I have kids and will need to study part time.
Do I need any qualifications to study? I want to do this properly.
If money and time was no object, what would be the Harvard or Oxford and Cambridge of dog training and why?
Emma Gordon by email


  1. Hmm, this is a tricky one! There are several self-regulated 'institutions' that offer their own courses, but as yet no industry standard or baseline requirements for what sorts of qualifications a dog trainer should have, and the quality and worth of the courses offered by these institutions can be variable.

    I've been looking into them for years now as I'm a dog trainer myself and like to ensure my knowledge is as up-to-date as possible, but am limited to distance learning courses or short workshops due to my personal circumstances, and the courses on offer can be limited and it can be hard to know what to take.

    I've personally done a COAPE course on running classes and training, and I did find it interesting, but the materials were a little limited. I'm currently doing some of Kay Laurence's online COLLAR courses through her Learning About Dogs organisation, and these are always thought provoking as they're based primarily on online discussion of the course materials, so you really get a sense of participation. I know the COMPASS organisation offer some courses that look interesting, but I haven't personally tried them out yet. James O'Heare's Companion Animal Sciences Institute courses look fascinating, and appear to be using cutting edge science, so from a content and learning point of view these look great and are done by distance learning, but as they're American whether they'd hold any weight over here is another matter...then again without industry regulated requirements, it's a matter for debate as to whether any of these courses hold any weight really!

    If money and time were no object, personally I'd look at doing a proper university degree in behavioural sciences or animal behaviour and take it from there, but unfortunately there isn't yet a distance learning degree in this field.

  2. I've been toying with the idea of doing a similar course and the one I'm interested in is this one - Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour Management offered by Compass.

    If you don't want to launch straight into an advanced qualification they also offer a Canine Behaviour and Psychology certificate then a Higher Diploma in Cynology.

    My husband is a dog walker / pet sitter and has completed both the Compass Professional Dog Walker Diploma and the Compass Professional Pet Sitter Diploma. I do like the look of their courses and they seem to be well respected. My only concern is the notes Ian had referred to dominance theory, which neither of us support. However, he just wrote his answers to reflect his opinion and this didn't cause any problem.

  3. You can do anything from a 2 day workshop right up to a PhD so it really depends on what you are aiming for, how much you can pay and what time you can devote to learning. Compass and COAPE courses have good reputations but the gold standard would be degree level courses. I am in my third year Bishop Burton College who run a foundation degree and full honours degree in canine behaviour in training both of which are part-time distance learning. For me it was the only one which I could fit in around my own business and family. There are more options at this link but For general animal behaviour sciences there are many more choices but if your aim is dog training then canine specific may be best. Also remember that in ten years or so the industry is likely to be far more regulated so you will need a qualification from an accredited course.