How to make a career out of canine behavioral rehab?
May 14, 2009 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Say I wanted to make an earnest stab at shifting my career path to becoming a canine behaviorist/trainer/rehabilitator. What would my best options be for training/certification and what jobs could I expect to find afterwards?

Quick and dirty background info: I have a BBA from a well-respected (though not elite) University. Corporate life just isn't for me. However, the only college credits I have in any kind of science are a freshman level physics course.

A few years back, after a round of layoffs, I turned volunteer time at an SPCA into a four year career doing in-home pet-sitting/dog walking. I've spent countless hours caring for dogs (and other animals, obvs) of various breeds, sizes and temperaments. I've been nipped, bitten, clawed, jumped on, growled at, run away from and punched in the junk and none of it fazes me.

Doing some recent soul-searching, I truly believe I can finally find a passion and lifetime mission doing rehabilitative therapy for dogs that have been abused or neglected.

So what are my best options for certification/training? A second bachelor's degree in animal behavioral science? A program like Jean Donaldson's SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers? Or just grunt it out in the lower-rankings of a local rescue org and work my way up?

And for those best options, what can I expect job-wise upon completion?

I'm aware that many folks get into this field via Law Enforcement or Military training, but at my age and given my personality, those would be really far-reaching options.
posted by Ufez Jones to Education (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have hired several different behaviorists and trainers over the years. I have had the very best results from graduates of Jean Donaldson's program at the SFSPCA. Their methods are the best, the most practical, and humane.
I would suggest that you look at the SFSPCA directory of graduates. Contact some of them and ask them about their academy experience, their work, and their business. Maybe do an internship and get some mentoring.
You might be very good with dogs, but you must also be a good business person -- if you want to make a good living.

There is a real need for skilled, reputable, credentialed behaviorists. Good luck to you.

(Here and here are the companies that helped me with my dog. I recommend them highly.)
posted by valannc at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2009

The woman we used to board our dog with did the Jean Donaldson program in SF and speaks highly of it. She has a training studio and now offers a certificate program in canine behavior.
posted by Good Brain at 9:31 PM on May 14, 2009

A friend of mine is finishing up the ABC distance learning program, and will be getting a CPDT certification. Very commonly seen certification, and well respected. The program combines didactic work with internships and volunteer work.
posted by acridrabbit at 5:42 AM on May 15, 2009

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