We’ve got answers! Making the choice to become a professional dog trainer is a big decision, and we want to help you make sure you have all the information you need to get started on your path. Check out the information in the list of Frequently Asked Questions below, which include the following sections (click to jump to each section):
- Dog Training Course (DTC) FAQs
- Mentor Program FAQs
- DTC Intensives FAQs
- Application, Registration & Tuition FAQs
- General FAQs
If you have additional questions after exploring the information on this page, you can always contact us directly at your convenience. If you are an already-practicing dog trainer interested in joining VSA as a mentor, please visit the Mentors page here.
Dog Trainer Course (DTC) FAQs
How long does it take to complete the Dog Trainer Course?
The course takes six months to complete. Visit the Dog Trainer Course page for additional information.
How is the Dog Trainer Course structured?
The VSA Dog Trainer Course is a comprehensive program which combines two in-person Intensives, two Field Modules where students work with an experienced, professional dog trainer/mentor, online learning and bi-weekly real-time Cyber Classes. Visit the Dog Trainer Course page for additional information.
What is the Course Start Date?
The course start date is the first day of the Introduction Module, which begins 14 days before Day 1 of the Primer Intensive. See a list of all class Course Start Dates here.
Is there an additional charge to work with a mentor?
No. The VSA tuition includes being mentored by a professional, rewards-based trainer during two Field Modules.
Is it my responsibility to find a mentor in my area?
No. VSA will take care of identifying and procuring a mentor near you – you don’t need to do a thing. Even if you feel there are no qualified potential mentors in your area, it is our responsibility to find a suitable option for you, and while we will certainly listen to any specific requests you have regarding mentor selection, we must maintain control of the mentor selection process to ensure that you’ll have the most rewarding educational experience.
Do I have to devote a specific amount of time to course work every week?
During the in-person Intensives you’ll will spend eight hours each day to complete course work. The remainder of the course work occurs during the Field Modules and the time spent each week will vary depending on how many visits you plan with your mentor each week. Cyber classes meet once every two weeks and last approximately two hours. You can complete online lessons at your convenience, the length of time to complete varies depending on the online lesson content and length.
What are the admission requirements?
To be eligible for admittance, students must be fluent in English, at least 18 years of age when their class begins, have a high school diploma (or equivalent), have the physical capability to handle dogs of different sizes and activity levels, and be able to travel twice to the location of the Intensives. Please see the VSA Student Handbook for a complete list of entrance requirements.
What experience is needed to be accepted?
The Dog Trainer Course is optimized for students brand new to dog training & behavior, so no previous dog training experience is required.
How many students are in each DTC class?
VSA limits the number of students in each class to 25. This allows for more personal interaction and a better student-to-faculty ratio during intensives and other teaching sessions.
What if I’m an experienced trainer – is the DTC right for me?
While the Dog Trainer Course is optimized for students brand new to dog training & behavior, it’s also appropriate for any experienced trainers (including graduates of other schools) who feel they may have gaps in their education. If you’re not sure if the DTC is a good fit for you, please contact us and we’ll discuss it with you. If you are an accomplished force-free dog trainer, please consider joining Victoria’s global network: Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training.
I live outside of North America. Can I still do the course?
Yes, you can enroll in the course provided you are able to travel two times during the six-month course to Atlanta, Georgia USA for the Intensives. We would work to match you with a mentor who lives in your area so that you could complete the Field modules and other course work from home. In the future we plan to offer classes where the Intensives will be offered in other states and countries outside of North America.
Can I work/go to school while doing the course?
The course does require a time commitment on your part. However, it is still considered part-time and therefore if you are good with your time management you should be able to successfully complete the program while you work/go to school.
Mentor Program FAQs
When will I be paired with my mentor?
You’ll be paired with your mentor upon enrollment in the Dog Trainer Course – usually about one month prior to your Course Start Date – and will connect with him or her for a phone call to begin planning your activities.
How many times do I have to visit with or complete activities with my mentor?
The number of visits to complete activities with your mentor will vary depending on the number of activities you’re able to complete in each visit. For example, if your mentor teaches multiple group classes and/or private lessons in one day, you can likely complete multiple mentor-led activities in one day. Your mentor will work with you to optimize scheduling.
Can only VSPDT trainers serve as mentors?
No – we have many mentors who are not VSPDTs, so don’t worry if there are no Victoria Stilwell-licensed trainers in your area. Our mentor selection process is extensive and comprehensive – we hire only the highest quality mentors for our program, so you can rest assured that your Field Study and Field Training experiences will be the most enriching educational experiences available in the field of dog trainer education.
What if there are no mentors close to me?
In the event VSA does not have a mentor in your immediate vicinity, we will work to pair you with a mentor within a reasonable driving distance, generally two hours. This allows you to successfully complete the Field Modules with your assigned mentor, and consolidating visits whenever possible, resulting in a minimum amount of travel. In the unlikely event VSA does not have a mentor not available within two hours of the student’s home, VSA will work with the student to determine the most mutually convenient solution possible with a mentor in another area. In certain scenarios, we will provide remote mentor experiences to take advantage of additional mentor opportunities. In no case will a student complete the VSA Dog Trainer Course program without the benefit of a qualified mentor experience.
DTC Intensives FAQ
Does the Dog Trainer Course result in certification or a title?
Graduates earn the title “Graduate VS Academy,” and use of the phrase “graduate of Victoria Stilwell Academy’s Dog Trainer Course.” See additional DTC graduate benefits here.
How long are the intensives?
Both the Primer Intensive and the Core Essentials Intensive are 6 days long. Most students arrive the day before and leave the day after the last day.
Do I have to bring my dog to the Intensives?
No, you do not bring your personal dog, and in fact it’s much better if you don’t. But you will have an opportunity to work hands-on with a variety of dogs during both the Intensives.
When do I need to arrive / when can I leave the Intensives?
You should plan to arrive in the Intensive city location the day before the first day of each Intensive to give yourself time to get settled in and rested in preparation for an intense learning opportunity! The last day of the Intensive will run until 5 pm. If you are flying out, it’s recommended that you to fly out the day after the Intensive ends so that you’re not rushed in leaving to make a flight. If you absolutely must leave the evening of the last day of an Intensive, the earliest possible departure time should be at least 8pm.
Is the cost of my travel to the Intensives included in the tuition?
No. The costs associated with transportation, lodging, and meals (with the exception of lunch each day) are the student’s responsibility. We provide a list of affordable accommodations that are convenient to the classroom and many students will share rooms and cars in order to reduce travel-related expenses.
Do students ever share travel expenses?
Yes, students are encouraged to connect with classmates to arrange room and car sharing. You’ll be introduced to your classmates upon enrollment and can connect and make arrangements. Remember, the Intensives are just that – intense learning opportunities! Please make sure that any arrangements you make provide you with the privacy and downtime you need to stay engaged, focused, and learning!
If my Intensives are in Atlanta, which airport should I fly into?
The closest international airport is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which is located at 6000 N Terminal Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30320.
Where will the Intensives actually take place?
The physical address for each Intensive will be provided upon your registration to the DTC.
Will VSA provide hotel and lodging recommendations during the Intensives?
Yes, you will receive preferred hotel recommendations as part of your registration package, and VSA will help to procure discounted rates at local hotels.
What can I expect at the Intensives?
The Intensives include a variety of activities. Most days include a combination of classroom presentation-style learning, exercises in observation, and hands-on training and teaching activities where you’ll put the skills and concepts you’re learning into practice. Some days include field trips, e.g. to see a veterinary practice in action or see husbandry training in a zoo. Intensives typically meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Application, Registration & Tuition FAQs
What is the application process?
First, complete the online application and pay the $100 application fee. VSA will notify you that we have received your application. We will begin processing your application, which will take 2 to 3 weeks. We will notify you via email whether you are accepted into the program, at which point you must pay the $1,395 registration fee (£1,200 for UK-based classes). Upon registration you can choose your payment plan and/or explore financing options with VSA.
Is there an application fee?
There is a refundable application fee of $100 US dollars which is due upon submission of your application. If accepted, this amount is credited towards your total tuition. If you do not enroll in VSA due to mentor issues or other specific scenarios, VSA will refund your application fee.
When should I submit my application?
Please submit your application as soon as you select a class date. The deadline to apply is 30 days in advance of the Course Start Date. Because class sizes are limited and applications are processed in order of receipt, it’s best to apply as soon as you determine a course date that fits your schedule.
What is the total DTC tuition?
The details on tuition and student financing options can be found on the Dog Trainer Course page. Full tuition is $6,950 (£6,950 for UK-based classes). The application fee and registration fee are included in both of the above tuition rates.
When do I register and pay my tuition?
Upon notification of acceptance into the VSA course, the VSA course registration and enrollment process is as follows:
- Register for your class by signing the Enrollment Agreement and paying the $1,395 (£1,200 for UK classes) registration fee within 5 days of notification of acceptance. The registration fee is applied towards your total tuition and guarantees your placement in the course.
- Determine whether you will apply for tuition financing. If yes, submit the tuition loan application (US-based classes only).
- Finalize Enrollment by paying either the full tuition balance due or your first installment payment (if approved for financing) no later than 2 weeks prior to the Course Start Date.
Do you offer tuition financing?
Yes, tuition installment plans are available for all qualifying students. Please visit the Financing page for details.
Do you offer financial aid?
No, VSA students are currently not eligible for state or federal government financial aid.
Do you provide job placement?
Because VSA aims to provide students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to open their own dog training business to offer clients training options such as group classes and private lessons we do not provide traditional job placement. In the event a graduate needs a reference for a future employer in the dog training field, VSA will supply proof of successful completion for VSA graduates.
Will I be a VSPDT when I graduate the VSA Dog Trainer Course?
No, not immediately upon graduation, but after gaining the requisite experience requirements Dog Trainer Course graduates are encouraged to apply to become a VSPDT. For more information about the VSPDT membership requirements, please visit www.vspdt.com.
Does the course prepare me to sit for the CPDT exam?
VSA graduates will be well-prepared for the knowledge portion of the CPDT exam. However, there are elements to that certification process which require longer periods of practical experience which you will continue to gain after graduation from the Dog Trainer Course.
Is Victoria Stilwell Academy a licensed school?
VSA is authorized under the Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Institutions Act of 1990.