In-Person 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, learner-centered, performance-based 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 in-person Dog Trainer Course includes:
Can’t Travel to Intensives?
Check out VSA’s Online Dog Trainer Course to learn 100% from home at your own pace – the ultimate in flexible learning!
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 five 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 your Faculty Advisor and Mentor
When you register in the Dog Trainer Course you’ll be paired with a dedicated VSA Faculty Advisor – a professional trainer who will be your guide and touchstone throughout the 6 month course. Later in the course you’ll also be provided with a local mentor to shadow and learn from during your two 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 oversight from your Faculty Advisor.
- 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: 60 days
- Begin to teach and lead training exercises with either your mentor’s real-world clients in both group training classes and in-home private sessions with your mentor’s guidance and support, and/or conduct skills assessments with your Faculty Advisor.
- Deepen your understanding of canine behavior, body language and advanced training methods.
- 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 Faculty Advisor, who is there to explain what you’re seeing and doing.
You’ll complete dynamic, interactive online lessons on VSA’s state-of-the-art Student Learning Center (SLC) 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 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.
Approximately 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
This course is far and away the best value for time and money of any dog trainer course I have seen. The content of the curriculum and the standard of teaching is second to none. I was lucky enough to meet a group of incredible people who have become family and to finish the course feeling like I really have accomplished something that matters so much to me.Miriam Morris
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
VSA has the most extensive training for a person wanting a career in dog training & behavior. It approaches the topic of dog training and behavior from all areas needed to truly learn about why a dog does what he does, how to teach the dog (and human) in a compassionate way, and how to operate and market a business successfully. All in all, the best dog trainer course available today.Teresa Hogge
Based on my research, this is the most holistic dog trainer course available and I don’t think any other course in the market would have left me feeling as confident as I did upon graduating from VSA. Not only do you learn from some of the most amazing trainers in the industry, but the VSA team exposes you to experts in animal behavior, canine health and nutrition, business marketing, and human psychology to name a few. It is a carefully curated team of professionals who give you a holistic grounding in everything you need to be a successful dog trainer.Elizabeth Quenneville
2-Month Field Modules with Mentor
Hands-on Learning with Faculty Advisor, Mentor or Faculty
Online Lessons at Home
Weeks of Combined Study
Real-Time Cyber Classes
Dedicated Personal Faculty Advisor Throughout Course
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.
Ready to Get Started?
Tuition (US): $6950 | Tuition (UK)*: £5,950
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 Faculty Advisor and 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.
Non-Profit Employee Scholarships
VSA offers scholarships to qualified employees of animal-related non-profit entities such as rescue organizations and shelters. Click here for more information about scholarships.
Need some Financial Support?
VSA makes learning affordable by partnering with Climb Credit to provide loans with low monthly payments and by offering installment payment plans to help you chase your dog training dreams…