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Home > Dogs > How to Become a Guide Dog Trainer: 7 Important Steps

How to Become a Guide Dog Trainer: 7 Important Steps

a bull terrier dog takes a treat from the trainer,

If you want to become a guide dog trainer, you’re far from alone. But while there are a lot of people that want to be a guide dog trainer out there, not everyone knows where to start. It’s a common question, and that’s why we came up with this guide that breaks down everything you need to know about becoming a guide dog trainer.


The 7 Steps to Become a Guide Dog Trainer

If you’re serious about becoming a guide dog trainer, there’s a step-by-step process you should follow. While this process might take a bit longer than some other paths, it’s the path that will set you up for long-term success.

1. Get Comfortable With Dogs

Before you can do anything with dogs, you need to get comfortable with them in the first place. Not only do you need to get comfortable with dogs, but you need to get some basic information about how they behave and how you should behave around them. This will never be a substitute for formal education, but it’s a great starting point and will help you determine if this is the right career path for you.

Female throwing a ball and training her shiba inu dog
Image Credit: Beatriz Vera, Shutterstock

2. Get a College Degree

While it’s not always required, many organizations require, or at least prefer, that people have a formal education in a related field before allowing them to enroll in formal guide dog trainer training. Related fields include animal psychology and animal behavior, and both can help you when you start trying to train dogs.

3. Get Formal Training

Once you have a formal education on how dogs behave, it’s time to get a formal education with hands-on experience on how to train a guide dog. There are several organizations out there that can provide you with the necessary education, but ensure it has the proper accreditation before enrolling and completing the course.

Organizations like the International Guide Dog Federation and the Assistance Dogs International offer certifications and accreditation, and its programs with these accreditations that you should look for.

rhodesian ridgeback dog giving paw in training
Image By: Ivan4es, Shutterstock

4. Get Hands-On Experience

Once you have the formal education from a university and from an accredited guide dog training program, it’s time to start getting some hands-on experience. You might need to intern or apprentice in the beginning, but this hands-on experience is absolutely crucial to learning how to effectively train guide dogs.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

At this point, all you need to do is keep practicing in order to develop the necessary skills to effectively train guide dogs. Different people learn at different speeds, but it’s safe to say that you should practice training guide dogs for at least a year to gain the necessary experience across different stages with enough dogs to become an effective guide dog trainer.

pet owner using dog whistle to train her dog
Image By: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock

6. Build Relationships

When you’re learning to train guide dogs by completing internships and apprenticeships, building relationships and connections throughout the industry along the way is essential. Building relationships is just as important as learning to train dogs, so don’t overlook this crucial step when you’re apprenticing and interning.

7. Start Making Money

Once you have the necessary education and relationships in the industry, it’s time to land a good-paying job. Up until this point, you’ve likely only made moderate money, but once you have the education and the relationships, you’ve set yourself up to make decent money as a guide dog trainer.

woman trainer teaching pug dog
Image By: berni0004, Shutterstock

How Much Do Guide Dog Trainers Make?

There’s quite a large pay discrepancy for guide dog trainers, with some trainers making less than $20,000 a year while others bring in closer to $75,000 a year.

Our guide walks you through everything you would need to do to gain the necessary experience level to get closer to the top of that pay scale. But keep in mind that it takes quite a bit of time to reach a higher earning potential. You need to start at the bottom for most career fields, and a guide dog trainer is certainly no exception!

divider-dogFinal Thoughts

Are you serious about becoming a guide dog trainer? If so, it’s a long process, but it’s well worth it once you land your dream job as a guide dog trainer making decent money. Take your time and don’t skip steps, and after a few years, you’ll be able to train guide dogs and change people’s lives in the process!

Featured Image Credit: MVolodymyr, Shutterstock

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