By Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA
Being a trainer has its challenges, but let’s be honest: it sure is a fun career! Those of us who get to train are lucky to be able to do something so valuable on a variety of levels. Not only are you improving the lives of both dogs and their families, but you get to share your knowledge and passion for safe, humane, and ethical dog-training as well. Training goes beyond your personal business and your clients: it saves lives.
As a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA or KSA), you have the responsibility to the dog community to be an advocate for training in a safe, humane way. With pet owners across the country being flooded with television shows, training tools, and businesses that often promote ineffective methods, you have a lot of misinformation to counteract. You can do this in your own community and lead by example by donating your time to local organizations in need.
One way to give back is by volunteering with your local shelter or rescue to provide training for dogs in need of extra support. You may be required to go through their own volunteer orientation and training, so go in with an open mind and learn what their organization is all about. Express your desire to give back as a trainer and spend your volunteer time working with the dogs who need extra mental stimulation and manners to help improve their chances of adoption! Three to five hours per month can have a significant impact on rescues and shelters finding homes for their dogs.
You can also spend your volunteer time training other volunteers on basic obedience, so that they can all work with the dogs (and other animals too) at the shelter or rescue. Offer a basic training class once a month to help volunteers learn how to work with the dogs in their care, or help the shelter or rescue group establish a simple training protocol for each of their adoptable dogs.
Another way to volunteer your time and expertise is by educating children on dog-safety and humane handling. Children ages 5-9 are the most likely to be the victim of dog bites, so it’s important to help them understand how to read dog body language, ask for permission to interact with any dog, and how to appropriately engage with dogs. Most children aren’t taught how to interpret dog stress signals, and short classes on these signals can prevent them from being bitten or otherwise injured. This is an opportunity—should the organization allow it—to take an appropriately trained dog with you, which furthers the visual impact of humane, ethical dog-training. Community centers, schools, and libraries are ideal locations to teach children about dog safety.
You also have the opportunity to gain publicity for your own business by reaching out to local media outlets (news, print, and radio) and offering your expertise on national pet holidays or observances. Offering simple training, safety, and handling tips can benefit your community and help you reach a wide audience of potential clients. A few key pet holidays or observances to target include National Dog Training Month (January), Dog Training Education Month (February), National Walk Your Dog Day (February 22nd), National Puppy Day (March 23rd), National Hug Your Dog Day (April 10th), National Dog Bite Prevention Week (3rd week in May), AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Month (September), and many more.
As a CPDT-KA or KSA, you have access to over 2000 more than 3000 other like-minded individuals who share the same values in ethical, humane dog training. Connect with these individuals in your community, create relationships and work together to send the same message. Trainers may have competing businesses, but in the end, it’s all about the dogs.
Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA has 18 years of experience in the pet industry with a focus on training. From training horses and teaching riding lessons, running a doggie daycare, managing a veterinary clinic, and working with volunteers in a large, government animal shelter, Erin has always focused on the health and well-being of animals and their humans and currently works as the Training Manager for Camp Bow Wow®, the largest doggie daycare franchise in the world! She helps onboard new franchise owners into the dog daycare environment with a focus on dog behavior and safety, and her primary role is to teach new Behavior Buddies® dog trainers how to train dogs in a safe, humane, and ethical way so that they may offer training services at their Camp. She also gears the trainers towards earning their CPDT-KA credentials once they gain enough experience.
Camp Bow Wow® is also seeking trainers who hold a CCDPT credential! If you currently have a certification from the CCPDT and are interested in becoming a trainer with Camp Bow Wow®, click here to find a location near you.