Dog Trainer Course
Whether you’re brand new to dog training or feel you have some gaps in your understanding of dog training and behavior, VSA’s comprehensive Dog Trainer Course curriculum provides all of the aspects you need to prepare you for a successful career as a dog trainer, expand your offerings as a pet industry professional, or simply increase your understanding of how dogs think, feel and learn.
The six-month Dog Trainer Course includes:
These modules are named Intensives because they are intense! These learning experiences, led by Victoria and other VSA faculty, include classroom study, hands-on experience and activities, field trips, and more.
Optimized for your learning, the variety of activities during the Intensives keep you engaged with your teachers and classmates while you’re learning and practicing your training and teaching skills.
You’ll travel twice to attend Intensives:
- FIRST: Primer Intensive meets for five days
- SECOND: Core Essentials Intensive meets for eight days
See a partial list of classesCanine Ethology
History of Dog Training
Learning Theory Overview
Building Trust and Positive Relationships with Dogs
The ‘Positively’ Philosophy
Self-Care & Burnout Prevention
Canine Emotion and Behavior
Canine Body Language
Behavior Observation & Discussion
Positive Training Tools & Methods
Demonstrations & Hands-on Practice of Tools
Living with Dogs
Preventing and Addressing Canine Fear and Stress
Mock Group Classes
Interpersonal Skills – Working with the Client
Dog Trainer as Agent of Human Change
Dog Bite Prevention
Positive Training with Other Species
Teaching Group Classes
Teaching Private lessons
Medical Handling Lab
When to Refer/Ethics
Business Marketing for Dog Trainers
taught during the in-person intensives.
Field Modules working with a Mentor
When you register in the Dog Trainer Course you’ll be paired with a VSA Mentor – a professional trainer, hand-selected by VSA, who will lead you through two extensive Field Modules.
FIELD STUDY: 60 days
- Observe and assist your mentor during group dog training classes and private in-home dog training sessions.
- Learn about canine behavior and how to interpret canine body language by visiting dog parks or dog daycares with your mentor.
- Gain experience handling dogs while volunteering at a shelter or rescue.
- See first-hand how your mentor develops cooperative relationships with clients, handles challenges with both humans and dogs, and runs their dog training business.
FIELD TRAINING: 90 days
- Begin to teach and lead training exercises with your mentor’s real-world clients in both group training classes and in-home private sessions with your mentor’s guidance and support.
- Deepen your understanding of canine behavior and body language.
- Get hands-on experience training behaviors to a variety of dogs in an animal shelter or rescue facility.
- Practice business skills you’ll need when you launch your own dog training business.
- You experience all this through the eyes of a qualified and experienced mentor, who is there to explain what you’re seeing and doing.
You’ll complete online lessons which will introduce you to curriculum topics. We will build upon these core principals during your in-person Intensives and throughout your mentor experiences. These convenient online lessons let you study when you have the time. Best of all, VSA’s Student Learning Center (SLC) is available 24/7, all you need is internet access.
See a partial list of Online LessonsStudent Orientation
Career Paths for Dog Trainers
Starting Your Business
Preparing for Final Assessments taught during the Dog Trainer Course.
Every two weeks you will meet up with your fellow classmates online for cyber classes led by a variety of VSA faculty, including Victoria. These interactive lessons allow you to engage with your classmates and VSA faculty in real-time while you deepen your understanding of course topics and concepts.
See a partial list of Cyber ClassesWhat Do You Do When?
The Right Tool for the Job
Dogs, Distractions & Stress
Keeping Clients Engaged
Social Media Marketing
Presenting Yourself Professionally taught during the Dog Trainer Course.
Why Choose VSA?
Why choose this course?
We’re delighted you’re considering VSA’s Dog Trainer Course. When you compare our Dog Trainer Course to what’s offered by other schools, you’ll find that VSA stands out in the most important way: we provide the most comprehensive education via state-of-the-art, innovative learning models that will get you career-ready. When you leave our program, you’ll be prepared to start your own business training dogs or expand your current offerings to include dog training.
VSA’s Dog Trainer Course offers an unparalleled learning experience. VSA offers more hands-on learning with VSA faculty and mentors than any comparable program. And you only need to leave your hometown twice during the 6-month course. Most importantly, VSA provides all the must-haves to become a successful professional dog trainer including dog training skills, human communication and teaching skills, business know-how, and more!
But don’t just take our word for it…
If you’re looking at programs out there like I did – I did a good amount of research before I attended – look no further: this is the way to go. This program is far more than I expected and well worth the investment. I expect that it will blow up my business.Deb Norris
We were delighted that Victoria was present from the outset of the Intensive, and was intimately involved in the coursework throughout the entire Intensive.Michelle McLeod
I had my mind blown every day by new facts and stats that we learned. Best experience I could have imagined! I already feel I got my tuition’s worth from the 5-day Primer Intensive alone.Laura Van Remortel
I can’t thank Victoria and all the instructors enough for everything that they’ve been willing to share and help us learn. It’s been a fantastic experience and I cannot recommend the experience more highly.Layne Tubby
Mentor-led Field Modules
Hands-on Learning with Mentor or Faculty
Online Lessons at Home
Weeks of Combined Study
Real-Time Cyber Classes
600-Page Printed Course Binder
VSA Treat Pouch & Clicker
Personalized Copy of Victoria's Book
Months Free Subscription to DogTV
Free Dognition Assessment
Graduation from VSA’s Dog Trainer Course carries many benefits.
Graduates become part of a VSA community that fosters continued learning, sharing, and collaboration. The ability to stay connected with other like-minded positive professional trainers is an exceptional benefit when launching a new career. Graduates also receive marketing and business support to promote and encourage the growth of their dog training business, including:
Use of the title “Graduate VS Academy,” and the phrase “graduate of Victoria Stilwell Academy’s Dog Trainer Course.”
Access to a private VSA Graduate Facebook Group for feedback, community-building and support.
A suite of pre-prepared, brandable documents to help you get your business started.
Use of a VSA Graduate Badge on graduate’s website, social media sites, and other marketing materials.
Ready-made curricula for teaching group dog training classes.
A 600-page printed binder of lessons from the intensives and a digital textbook of the online lessons.
A profile listing on VSA’s website trainer search so that pet owners searching for a trainer can find VSA graduates.
Use of images of themselves with Victoria Stilwell, subject to VSA approval.
Continued access to VSA faculty via online platforms.
Tuition (US): $6950 | Tuition (UK)*: £6,950
These amounts include an Application Fee of $100 and a Registration Fee of $1,395 (£1,220 for UK-based classes).
Tuition does not include student costs for travel, lodging or other expenses.
VSA does not charge more for attending in-person Intensive modules or for working with a mentor —
it’s all part of the VSA learning experience and is included in your tuition.
*UK-based DTC tuition is payable in GBP – only the initial $100 application fee is paid via credit card in USD.