Animal Behavior College


Experienced Member
I'm in my first year at a community college, right out of high school, and I'm starting to develop a plan for what I'll do after I graduate. I've been seriously considering the Animal Behavior College, but I have my worries. Have any of you completed its course and will it be hard for me to find a job training dogs? I live near Chesapeake, VA and I've heard of a government job where they train bomb or drug dogs that's kind of near by, so I might be able to get a job with them. I'm just worried that it will be hard for me to get a job and I don't have the means to start a business on my own. I think I would really like training dogs as a profession because there's nothing else I really want to do and I don't want a job that I hate going to every day. If nothing else, I feel like I could get a job at Petsmart as a trainer there, but I haven't looked into it.

I feel like I should put my obsession to good use, but I couldn't live with myself if I did something that I couldn't get a job with while my boyfriend has to have a hard job so he can support me.


Staff member
I thought about going there but they don't have a very great reputation where I am. They don't have real good creditablity in their vet and groomer program but the trainer program isn't one that I know real well about.

If you're realy serious about learning dog training I would check out either Tarheel dog training school, Tom Rose, Triple Crown or Karen Pryor. It all depends on the type of training you want to get into and the type of methods you would like to learn. I wouldn't throw out any school because of the methods without actually seeing it.

Personally I would contact the government place around you and ask where they get their trainers from and if they apprentice people. Your best bet would be finding trainers around you that would be willing to mentor you.


Honored Member
I have no idea of what i'm going to be when I'm older. I've been thinking vet tech but they dont make a lot of money. Very stressful thinking of the future.
Good luck!


Experienced Member
When I took my dogs to training before I moved, there was a woman who worked there who graduated from ABC. I definitely want R+, and the facility used R+, so I know that ABC does as well. I need to get in contact with her, but I've moved and I'm having a little trouble getting in touch.

The problem is I don't know how to start with this. I don't know what's reputable in the dog training community and I want to do this right. I've talked to the people in Petsmart about what kind of training they go through because I was considering taking my dogs there for training. They have their own course that they have their trainers complete, so should I start there? I've seen them in action, and from what I could see, they used R+.

Right now, I'm concerned that I'll get into a program that no one recognizes or one that is frowned upon.


Experienced Member
You have the greatest education in the world but it's not going to mean much to other trainers without the experience to back it up. Knowing 5 ways to teach a down doesn't mean that you can actually adapt it to an individual dog and see the little steps.

Here are some of the things I recommend doing as you start to look more at dog training:

1. Train your own dogs and prove your training skills by getting obedience titles and/or other sport titles. Titles can show that you not only know how to teach skills but that you can successfully move past the learning phase to the testing phase where the dogs can perform without rewards or punishments present. If you don't have your own dog, borrow a friends dog to train!

2. Find someone knowledgeable to study under in any dog sport discipline. Read every book you can on dog training and behavior. Familiarize yourself with all different styles of dog training even if you disagree with the methods used. You can still learn from very traditional trainers even if you decide that your are more comfortable with clicker training or vice versa.

Be weary of colleges that promise to turn you into a super dog trainer in X number of weeks. While dog training is based on scientific principles, it is more of an art than a science. It can take years to turn your book knowledge into good training actions. Most places looking to hire a dog trainer will put little emphasis on what formal training you have received and prefer to look at experience and how you actually train dogs and work with people.

3. Train other peoples dogs. Borrow neighbor's dogs, go to the humane society to volunteer to train adoptees. Work with a wide variety of breeds to make sure you just as comfortable training a high drive border collie as a gentle and lazy newfoundland. Learn that while one method might work for one dog you might need an entirely different approach with another.

4. Pursue a job as an assistant or trainer, teaching classes to the general public. Learn that dog training is really more about people training! You can probably get a job at a chain store very easily with little experience.


Experienced Member
fickla, I have already done pretty much everything you've suggested. I haven't trained or competed for any titles because I don't have the resources. I would like for the girls to get their CGC, but I don't have someone they don't know who will help me. Everyone that I've met since I've moved thinks I'm the crazy dog lady and no one will help or let me train their dogs because they think I'm weird. I also want to work on Fairley's shyness, but again, I have no one to help.

I have so many books on dog training it's not funny. I've read them and I'm familiar with how to teach them. I am also familiar with the major types of training.

I would never apply to a college that claims to make me an expert trainer. The Animal Behavior College has you do your book work and volunteer work first, and then they have you intern with a local dog training facility to get hands on training. I just want to make sure I can get accredited so people know that I know what I'm doing.

I have trained my dogs, my friend's mini Dachshund, and another's Aussie. It's been hard for me to find people who care enough to have their dog trained. Everyone is so complacent or ignorant. I also want to volunteer and help train shelter dogs, but I'm afraid no one will want me because I'm 18 and I can't possibly know what I'm doing, I'm a liability, or sometimes shelters just don't work on training their dogs.

I don't know where to start trying to get a job. Like I said before, I'm afraid no one will want me to help them train their dog because I'm young. I know that it's ridiculous that they would think that, but I know they would. I don't know how to make people believe that I know what I'm doing. I'm so far away from prospective jobs that I couldn't drive one direction to go to school and then 30 miles in the other to work. There's a class at my community college next year in March and it's a dog obedience course. I'm planning to take Fairley and I'll try talking to the teacher about how to get started, but I don't know if he will help.

I want to make sure I'm working on behavior problems the correct way. I can train tricks easier than I can work on behavior because I don't know what to do. I want to be educated on how to train and not just come up with something that I think works. I don't want to be one of those people who call themselves a dog trainer but have no education.


Experienced Member
I can't imagine any shelter not wanting someone to help train their dogs which would only get them adopted sooner.
Don't sell yourself short before you try. They may want to see how you work first but certainly you can walk dogs and get them started on basic obedience. The shelter here takes "kids" and young adults over 16, and many of the students at the vet college here volunteer walking dogs and do clicker training to help bond with the dogs and get them started .

Go and ask ... the worst they can say is no.


Experienced Member
The Animal Behavior College has you do your book work and volunteer work first, and then they have you intern with a local dog training facility to get hands on training. I just want to make sure I can get accredited so people know that I know what I'm doing.
I alluded to it earlier, but in my opinion it's only the public that cares about a diploma. Fellow dog trainers know that most graduates from any school simply aren't ready to start training in the real world and their accreditation means nothing. I personally only put stock in accreditation from the CCPDT since their tests require hours of experience actually teaching, and recommendations from fellow dog trainers, clients, and vets.

In my opinion, the greatest help to you is going to be finding a mentor to train under. ABC will give you book knowledge but not much else. Their biggest benefit is that they'll help in pairing you with a school to intern under but there's no reason you can't search that out on your own.

And you don't need a school to start really training your own dogs to higher levels of obedience or working on behavior such as shyness. There are a ton of resources online from youtube videos to yahoo groups that are focused on agility, obedience, behavioral problems, etc. The information is out there and you can't let your uncertainties stop you!


Experienced Member
The problem is the fact that the public want to see the diploma before they'll trust that I know what I'm doing. I know I can train dogs well enough but no one will listen and no one will let me unless I can prove myself. I don't care where I would get accredited as long as it's reputable and has standards that requires me to actually know something.

I looked into Karen Pryor's schooling, but there's nothing in my area.

I just want to make sure no one can tell me I don't know enough to be a dog trainer. I want there to be no doubt.


Experienced Member
Great news! There's a woman in my English class that wants me to help her train her puppy. The puppy is an American Bulldog and she's about 3 months old. Any suggestions on what we should work on? She nips and the woman has kids, so that needs to be worked on. She already knows how to wait for food, so we'll work on waiting at the door. She's pretty much potty trained, but we'll work on that as well.

Not sure about the basics like sit, stay, etc. but those are obvious ones that I won't forget about. I just want to get the basics down right now so no tricks yet. Also, she wants the dog to be a guard type dog. Not one who's aggressive but one that will let her know that there are people at her house.

I thought about allowing her to bark at people at the door, but then having her owner let her know that she's aware of the person by sending her to lay in her crate/bed. This way there's not constant barking even after the owner knows that someone is there and it allows the dog to calm down because she's done her job. So what does everyone think about this and are there any suggestions on how I can do this?


Honored Member
OH GREAT! This will be fun.:D
Yes, you will want to work on that puppy nipping. Kikopup has great tutorial on youtube if you need a guide. YOu can type "kikopup puppy biting" into your browser to find it.

//"Also, she wants the dog to be a guard type dog. Not one who's aggressive but one that will let her know that there are people at her house"//
Most dogs do this naturally. You won't have to teach a dog this. Well, my rescue dog, who had never ever been inside a home in his life, did not bark for door knocks, or door bells, so i did have to train him to bark for that. I DID! lol, crazy, eh? But usually, you won't have to train a dog to bark for visitors arriving, it's natural for most dogs.

Guarding a house, comes natural for most dogs. My dog, although never taught to do so, protested violently at a face in the window one night. It's sort of natural in dogs to protect their home.

You could ask owner, what she wants her dog to do, (go to mat/sit/whatever) after she's reached door, and then train that. I do allow constant barking til i arrive at door, but, that's just me. If i am not home, i want my dog there, barking away, to let whoever know there is a Dog in this house!
If i want, i can tell Buddy "shhh!" but, otherwise, he barks away til i get to door, he sits while i open door, but, he's right beside me, right next to me, as i open door.
Probably each person has their own wishes about what they want dog to do. Guess you'd have to ask her.

Many owners find loose leash walking a main thing they want improved in their dog, so maybe that will be a focus for the family (not sure). This is a bit harder for puppies. Kikopup has tutorials on that, too, if you google "kikopup loose leash walking" into your browser, it will pop up.


Honored Member
//"The problem is the fact that the public want to see the diploma before they'll trust that I know what I'm doing."//

I don't know, many ppl don't realize absolutly anyone can hang out a sign, "Dog Trainer". Anyone:LOL: can do this, is not illegal. NO education is req'd to do so. Having experience, being able to say, "I've trained dogs for __X__ number of years" does seem to carry weight for many ppl.
There are some more dog-savvy ppl, who will want to know, if you have actual certificates, but many ppl won't know to ask. Lol, look, you have a customer already!:ROFLMAO: See? Many ppl aren't always as into the dog-training diplomas.

Many ppl may want to know if you are "positive only" (i would!) as well.

Not all certificates indicate the dog trainers is positive only.

A person can be MOST excellent at training dogs, and has no certificate at all.

A person can have a diploma in a frame, and not be that great at training all various types of dogs.

Imo, it's two different things. I think, Fickla's advice given to you above, was great, to go ahead and try to find a mentor, to learn from other trainers with much experience, to try to gain a wider knowledge base for training different types of dogs, work on your own dogs, etc etc etc,
, even before/while you are still in dog-training school,
is good advice, imo. I think the Fickla's posts up above hold great ideas for you to read over again.
I'd also check out the school, be picky, there is a shocking number of 'certified' trainers out there,
who don't know any better than to use choke collars, shock collars, etc etc. For real, it still seems popular with old-school type of trainers.

Find a "positive only" type of curriculum. what a bummer there's no KAREN PRYOR school in your area, darn it. You could look over Victoria Stillwells site for recommended schools, as well. GOOD LUCK!!


Experienced Member
I just reread some of my replies and I didn't realize it looked like I meant I only wanted to be certified. O_o I want to be the whole package with the experience and the credentials.:D

Anyways, I've sort of got a plan for the American Bulldog puppy I'm supposed to work with. I feel like I'm forgetting something though. Her owner thinks that having a cue for her to relax when she knows that someone's at her house is a good idea, but I have no idea how to go about training this.

Her owner is having problems with Baby Girl peeing in her crate. Also, she'll be taken outside and she'll pee, but almost immediately after she's back in the house, she'll pee again. I think I'll suggest taking her out and rewarding her for pottying and then have her be taken back outside almost immediately after going inside. This way she doesn't have a chance to pee in the house.

We'll work on waiting at the door, leave it, drop it, sit, lay down, and stay as well as not nipping/mouthing. I'm confident on how to train all of these things except for the relax cue.

So, what do you guys think? :D


Honored Member
//"Her owner thinks that having a cue for her to relax when she knows that someone's at her house is a good idea, but I have no idea how to go about training this."//

I think, it is normal for dogs show some excitement when first arriving into a home to visit. I'd expect most normal, healthy dogs, would be tail-wagging, smiling, doing some sniffing and investigating, til the adult dog will sit down. Bringing along a chew bone is nice to help dog, too.

My dog is always most thrilled :LOL: to come into anyone's home, seems a fun thing to dogs. *I* don't find ths to be a problem, i enjoy watching his obvious enthusiasm to visit anyone. He doesn't knock things over, nothing extreme, and if he does begin to wander into another room, he comes back as soon as i call him, and he quickly figures out, "oh, we are in THIS here room, oh okay then."
. Within a few minutes or so, he is sitting beside my feet, stoked stoked stoked to be in your house.:ROFLMAO:

Lol, one of my pal's dogs, got so excited whenever he visited someone, he got diarrhea, lol, for real, evverytime. So we knew to put Lucy outdoors for a lil while when she first got to my house. :ROFLMAO:

And for puppies, i'd think, the "wow, i'm visiting someone" excitement, to last a bit longer than an adult dog goes through upon entering another person's house.

You could teach "lie down", but, do teach the owner, this is NORMAL dog behavior, to show some enthusiasm :D about new places, and most dogs, will come to settle down on their own, after a few minutes. Also, ask her specifically, what is her INFANT baby puppy doing when she brings it to a friends' home?
Find out egggzactly what it is she wants her baby puppy to NOT do, to figure out best approach. Have her describe what it is her new baby dog is doing, and for how long is the baby dog doing this? when the baby dog is over at her friends houses.

You can teach owner
to reward calm behaviors,
while at her friends' houses,
like this:

Also, do remind her, while it is most awesome to get a good jump start on training infant dogs,
12 weeks old
is still
an infant baby puppy
and this baby doggie will have less self control and shorter att'n span,
than he will in a few months from now.
(for real, i do think more ppl should just ADOPT AN ADULT DOG!! :ROFLMAO:--SO MUCH EASIER!!)


Honored Member
Staff member
As for college, certification, etc...
The quality of training through Petsmart varies so much. I worked there for a time, and met a few different area trainers--area trainers train the trainers in each store in their area, just to clarify... 2 were worthless. 1 was incredible. She was a training geek like most of us here, had millions of books, etc, then went to Petsmart's training, where she happened to learn under a good area trainer. That, combined with lots of work with various types of dogs, got her to where she is now. The other two, like many Petsmart trainers, were just people looking for jobs. They found a job as a trainer, went through the training program, were good employees, and got promoted. Of all the Petsmart trainers I've known, the majority have not been impressive. But, that was all in Texas. I was thoroughly disappointed with the Petsmart training program, simply because if you aren't someone who is passionate about dog training/behavior in the first place, you won't get much out of it. Of course, if you happen to learn under a good area trainer, AND you're passionate about training and do look for information outside of just the course, then you'll be great.
My point is don't count on training programs of chain stores to make you much of a trainer. Both Petsmart and PetCo have some that are outstanding and some that are just terrible.
Bergin University is the college I've really been looking into; it is not expensive and I've heard nothing but great things about their programs. The downside: it's in California. But learning about their programs and talking to some of the alumni will really rope you in. I'm in love with this school and still may be going there after finishing my schooling at my current university. Even though California is the last place I would like to live.

I haven't heard much about ABC but I do get their monthly emails because I emailed them with some questions. I haven't heard anything from alumni or anything as far as the quality of their programs or their repuatation. But, they have answered any question I had for them and have been helpful.

Volunteering at shelters is one of the best ways to get experience with behavior and training if you don't have a mentor. You can gain experience, put to use what you have only read in books, and help dogs find homes all at the same time. Plus you don't have to worry as much about being judged. Once you've kind of established yourself to shelter employees and other volunteers, you might make out a business card or something to give them so that they can be handed out with adopted dogs. And once you've established yourself to shelter employees and volunteers, they might have dogs of their own they need help with or have friends, family, etc that might need help. See how many connections and opportunities you could get through volunteering at shelters?
You don't necessarily have to go in saying you want to train all their dogs, just volunteer as a dog walker or whatever other duties for a while, and once they know you a little better, talk to one of the higher-ups about doing some basic obedience work with some of the dogs. Then just let it build from there. If you just come in saying, "I want to volunteer here and train all the dogs," they're likely to be skeptical--you're young, and just because you say you can train dogs doesn't mean you can. And they can't have faith in you and your methods without seeing them. Even if they believe you are capable of training dogs, they may not necessarily believe that you use the methods you say you do.

I volunteered at the shelter I adopted Mud from, and worked with tons of dogs there. After adopting Mud, I would bring her to various shelter events to show her off and do little trick demos. This helped in a few ways: promoted adoption from that shelter, got my name out, and helped the shelter owners and employees trust my abilities more.
It might be a good idea to pick(through volunteering as a walker or whatever and getting to know the dogs) a dog that might be a good candidate for this type of work. Relatively confident, trainable, intelligent, you can maybe teach this dog a few tricks and show him/her off at events in the same manner. High-five, shake, kiss, beg; these are all easy tricks to teach that people just eat up. When this dog gets adopted(which he/she surely will with your training behind him/her), find another.

Most of my clients start out needing help with basic obedience issues. So I'll start with the basics: sit, down, stay, come, wait, leave-it, leash-training(very important...if the owner can't walk them comfortably, 99% of owners just won't...then they have more issues--they might become return clients, or they'll trashtalk you and your training, or worse, give up the dog), no jumping, no biting, etc. Make sure the owner understands very clearly how to implement your methods, so that when you're not there they still know how to handle problems. See what else specifically they want the dog to know and add that in too.
There are 3 or 4 posts stickied in the puppy forums that I typically hand out to new puppy clients; feel free to print them and hand them out if these are methods you agree with. For me, it makes it easy because if I'm not there they can refer to the article and then ask me questions if the article didn't answer it. If they can't get it right with me telling them how, showing them how, and having written references...then they are just lazy and don't want to put forth the effort to correct the issues they're having.

Hope this helps. :) Congrats on the new student and good luck!


Experienced Member
My two cents: I think volunteering at the shelter is one of the best things you can do. First off I cant see any shelter not letting you spend as much time as you want spending time socialising their dogs. Secondly, after some time when you have proven yourself, and demonstrated you have a good grasp of teaching basic obedience etc.. maybe you can implement a free service ( with the permission of the shelter of course ) that you can offer a free half hour - hour or so to talk to new adoptees about dog basics and initial training techniques - that may be a great way to drum up some business for later. I know many people have no idea what to do with their new puppy and only research stuff after the fact - it might be a great idea for the shelter to offer such a service without interfering with existing Dog trainers businesses outside of the shelter.


Experienced Member
Tigerlily, I think you misunderstood :). I meant, since Baby Girl is supposed to be an "alert" dog, meaning that she is supposed to let her owner know when someone is at THEIR house. Baby Girl hasn't had problems at anyone else's house as far as I know and enthusiasm isn't a problem. Fairley is only 1 year old, so I remember well her very young puppy energy, and I know that dogs usually grow out of it. One thing I always tell people who have puppy problems is that they're BABIES and they're not going to get everything right at first. I only wanted to know how to teach a relax (such as sending the dog to their bed) so I can inform her owner how to teach this and help her out when it's time. Lol, I was really confused at what you were talking about when you were talking about the puppy being excited at someone else's house, but then I realized I didn't clarify well.:D

I'm not going to attempt to teach her all of these things at once because I know she's still a baby, but I want to show her owner how to get started. I believe commands like drop it and leave it should be taught as soon as the dog is old enough to understand because these commands could be lifesaving. I would never just train someone else's dog on my own unless they asked because they're going to be clueless when I leave, and most likely ruin everything I worked on. :eek:


Honored Member
//"I meant, since Baby Girl is supposed to be an "alert" dog, meaning that she is supposed to let her owner know when someone is at THEIR house"//

yeah, like i said above, i think most dogs do this naturally.

//"Baby Girl hasn't had problems at anyone else's house as far as I know and enthusiasm isn't a problem"//
oh, i thought you meant your new client, the owner of a 12 week old baby dog, when you said this======>

//".........yways, I've sort of got a plan for the American Bulldog puppy I'm supposed to work with. I feel like I'm forgetting something though. Her owner thinks that having a cue for her to relax when she knows that someone's at her house is a good idea, but I have no idea how to go about training this. "//

Laramie, you are right, i do NOT understand,:ROFLMAO:I AGREE!!
i will leave this thread, i'm getting a headache!! ha ha.


Experienced Member
TX_Cowgirl, I completely agree with the Petsmart training program, which is why I chose somewhere else to take my dogs. Right now, I think that might be the best way to get started and get some experience, but I definitely wouldn't want to stay there permanently. If I did get a job there, I would hope to be one of those trainers that people remember. I haven't heard about Bergin University and I couldn't bring myself to move to California. When I took the girls to the training facility I used, there was an ABC graduate that taught one of the classes. She knew what she was doing and she was good, but I'm not committed to going to ABC.

About volunteering at shelters, you addressed all of my fears. I would have probably just walked in and asked to train the dogs. :ROFLMAO: Your advice is really helpful. I would have never thought of all the ways to go about doing this.

Thank you and I really, really do appreciate your help. :)


Experienced Member
I've found the general public has no idea there are credentials for dog trainers. They may see a trainer here or there that has their certificates listed on their web site or card, but the majority have no idea what it means. I've met people who chose traditional yank and crank trainers because they listed "AKC" on their business card. If I were going to choose to pay someone a couple thousand dollars so I could have their seal of approval I'd rather go through KPA, it has a better reputation. I think you could accomplish the same on your own though.:confused:
I have found some shelters will refuse someone looking to volunteer for training, but it depends on the shelter of course.