Assistance dog trainer

Animal Care Career Profiles from The CV Writer - Creating Brand YOU - #creatingbrandYOU

Assistance dog trainers and instructors train dogs that help people to maintain their independence.

Salary Range: £13,500 to £27,000

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You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
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You may be able to start by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in animal care.

You could then move onto an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
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You could work your way into this role by starting as a kennel worker, then move on to learning to train dogs and working with owners.

Volunteering and experience

You’ll have an advantage if you’ve got experience of working with dogs. Examples include volunteering at a kennels, helping at a dog rescue centre or working for an animal welfare organisation.

Do-it has more information on voluntary opportunities in your area.

Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs if you’ve got some experience of working with dogs. Employers will look for:

  • knowledge of basic dog handling and behaviour management
  • understanding of the issues faced by people with disabilities

Each organisation sets its own entry requirements for job vacancies. For example, you may need up to 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for some jobs.

Employers may ask for sign language skills and experience of working with deaf people.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming an assistance dog trainer from:

  • Guide Dogs
  • Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
  • Dogs for Good
  • Canine Partners
  • Dog A.I.D.
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Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work on your own
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

  • pass enhanced background checks
  • be over 18 years of age
  • have a full driving licence
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Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • working with volunteers who foster puppies and young dogs
  • helping dogs to adjust to the routine of basic training
  • training at a more advanced level related to the dog’s future work
  • matching dogs to owners
  • training dogs and owners together
  • providing aftercare and support for owner-dog partnerships

Working environment

You could work at a client’s business or at a client’s home.

Your working environment may be you’ll travel often and outdoors in all weathers.

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With experience you could progress to a role like area team supervisor, training manager or regional training manager.

Your experience as a trainer could lead to a care support job, like rehabilitation worker. 

You could move into a related field, like veterinary nursing or working as an RSPCA inspector.

You could also set up your own business, and provide services like dog obedience classes or private dog training.