Podcast: Dr. Ian Dunbar Shares His Story on Becoming a Top Dog Trainer

Listen to Episode #29: Shares His Story on Becoming a Top Dog Trainer on Spreaker.

Dr. Ian Dunbar, the man who wrote the book on pet training and developed the first ever puppy-training courses in the country. Go to any local dog park in your city and most of the dogs there have been influenced by his work!

He has written six books with hundreds of thousands of copies in circulation. He has a Udemy course that has trained more than 40K pet parents and trainers. He was the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, which is now known as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Over the past 35 years, Dr. Dunbar has given over 1000 seminars and workshops around the world for dog trainers and veterinarians.

You will learn:

– How Ian found his way to dog training after going to veterinary school
– What Ian’s research taught him about how to train dogs
– The best ways Ian found to distribute his knowledge about puppy training
– Why Ian believes it’s so important to reach prospective puppy owners
– Ian’s advice for planning for retirement as a service professional
– Ian’s idea of the good life and how he lives it every day

Ian’s story is certainly an inspiration for anyone who has a dream of working for themselves and making a good living.

9 Most Popular Dog Training Methods

Rewards of being a dog trainer

Dog training is a lucrative vocation for anyone seeking a rewarding career working with canines. Being a Dog trainer enriches the lives of dog parents by providing a structured method for them to interact with their fluffers and waggers and vice versa. Not only can you provide a significant positive impact for entire families by training a once-aggressive pooch, but you can also provide much needed structure for said pooch to thrive in.

When dogs know their place in the pack, it creates calmer and happier pets.

However, just like any training program, Dog training has its differences in methods and applications.

Focusing on positive rewards is one popular style, but there are many regimens you can choose from when selecting your preferred training approach.

If you’re interested in learning about effective methods of Dog training, you’re barking up the right tree.

Let’s get started chewing through this delicious bone of knowledge by clearing up the confusion about Dog training styles.

Dog Training Styles

Here are the most popular methods of Dog training:

(Although we’ve broken down training methods into specific categories, the reality is that trainers often blend styles together.)

  • Alpha Dog (Dominance) Method (Compulsion)
  • Positive Reinforcement
    • Clicker Training
  • Scientific Training
    • Classical Conditioning
  • Electronic Training
  • Model/Rival (Mirror) Training
  • Relationship-based Training

You can also break down Dog training into the following overarching theories:

  • Traditional Dog Training
  • Modern Dog Training
  • Balanced Dog Training
    • Respect Training

A third way to break down Dog training styles according to research:

  • Reward Based
  • Punishment Based
  • Neutral

With such a diverse taxonomy of training methods, it is understandable why there is so much debate about the best and most effective dog training approaches.

Scientifically speaking, the types of Dog training are not black and white, but instead fall on the ‘Dog Training Spectrum.’

Your best bet when choosing a training style may be to learn the basics of each and build your own hybrid technique.

Battle of the Styles


There is much controversy and debate between members of different training schools.

As we investigate these training styles, we’ll also mention any known criticisms to give you the most balanced view possible.

Let’s dig in!


This method, popularized in part by Cesar Milan, relies on teaching the dog that you are the pack leader. For example:

“If your dog wants to go out, then they have to sit before you open the door. If they want to eat, then they have to wait calmly while you prepare food.”

Some modern trainers believe that this training method is outdated in light of new research on pack mentality.

Also called ‘Compulsion’ training, this is the oldest method of Dog training that exists.


Positive Reinforcement has been touted by celebrities such as Victoria Stilwell of Animal Planet’s TV show It’s Me Or The Dog, as well as Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, who trained the Obamas’ dog Bo.

The overall approach for this type of training is that owners reward desired behavior with treats such as food, and do nothing when the dog exhibits undesirable behaviors such as barking or biting.

Clicker training is also included in with Positive Reinforcement training, and relies on using an audible ‘click’ to reward desired behavior.

Steven R. Lindsay (author of ​Applied Dog Behavior and Training​​) explains that “rewards lead to greater active strategies, such as searching, exploring, and risk taking. In contrast, punishment tends to lead to hesitation, ritualization, and risk avoidance as well as generally more passive behaviors.”

There are numerous critiques of positive-only training, with the most common being that it doesn’t work as well for submissive dogs and generally doesn’t help eliminate undesirable behavior.

Positive Reinforcement Training


Science-based Training blends classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

There are some positive rewards, but also negative punishments.

Some researchers believe you should also condition dogs to behave properly without rewarding them each time.

Science-based training is too broad to categorize accurately, as new studies are always coming out to alter the landscape of this training style.


The lay-term for this is known as ‘shock collar training,’ although collars containing a spray of Citronella can also be used.

This training is best used at a distance, when the dog’s proximity to the owner is far and a leash can’t be used effectively.

Studies indicate that this causes a great deal of stress to dogs subjected to this method of training.


This method is based on the idea that dogs learn by observing.

Trainers will use other humans (or the owner) as models for completing desired behavior and being rewarded for it.

This is the ultimate version of ‘learning by example.’ The method works best when the dog already has a strong bond with its owner, which makes it more likely to follow suit by learning from its owner’s actions.


This method is a hybrid of other training styles that relies on the connection between the dog and its owner.

Relationship-based training requires more patience from both parties, as its basis is building on the dog’s current successes.

One manifestation of this style is to thoughtfully consider why the dog is behaving in an unwanted fashion, and addressing the root cause of this instead of just punishing the dog into compliance.

What about the meta breakdown of Traditional, Modern, and Balanced Dog training?

Relationship based training


The ‘traditional’ approach would encompass the Alpha Dog (Dominance) Method – showing the dog it’s place in the pack.

Some examples of this type of training would be to eat before the dog or walk through doorways before the dog.

However, modern research has shed light on the fact that dog packs would rarely organize themselves into such a rigid, coherent system.

These studies have paved the way for new strategies often called ‘modern’ dog training.


The Modern approach incorporates Positive Reinforcement, Science-based Training, and subsets of each such as Clicker Training and the positive elements of Classical or Operant Conditioning.

The modern approach focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors rather than directly ‘correcting’ bad ones.


This method incorporates both of the previous styles – both the negative corrections and positive rewards of Classical or Operant Conditioning.

A balanced Dog trainer may use a clicker when the dog is just a puppy (positive), but also correct unwanted behaviors with punishments once the dog matures.

Most balanced Dog trainers use both methods because of the assumption that positive reinforcement alone is not enough.

Some Dog trainers are now calling for the method to be called ‘Crossover’ training, as they feel that using ‘balanced’ terminology is misleading in that it presupposes a better approach than positive reinforcement only. 

Says Bob Maida, who trained Ronald Reagan’s dogs:

“I hate using the term (alpha dog) because it’s a buzzword that prompts the ‘positive crowd’ to near criminalize people that correct dogs,” Maida says. “You need balance. It’s like cooking – if you put too much salt in the dish, it’s not going to taste good.”

Now that you’ve learned about some popular Dog training methods – which one will you apply in your puppy bootcamp?

Did we miss anything? Email us at support@pocketsuite.io and let us know!

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Different Types of Dog Training Apprenticeship Programs

Dog Training Academies

Are you an aspiring Dog trainer seeking an apprenticeship program? Apprenticing under an experienced Dog trainer may be the single best thing you can do to step your Dog training skills up and kickstart your new career as a Dog trainer. While there are plenty of Dog training and Animal Behavior certifications available on the market, nothing teaches hands-on skills quite like in-person experience.

For this reason, in this article we’ve broken down the different types of Dog training apprenticeship programs available on the market today.

It’s time to sit up and pay attention, because you’ll be a whole lot dog-gone smarter when it comes to approaching your Dog training career after you finish reading.


In previous articles, we’ve discussed the merits of becoming a certified Dog trainer.

We’ve talked about how to get certified as well as the wide array of certifications available.

Today, we’re switching focus and discussing a much more specific topic – apprenticeships.

What is a Dog training apprenticeship?

The Department of Labor defines an apprenticeship as a “learn-while-you-earn” business model that “combines on-the-job training, provided by the employer that hires the apprentice, with job-related instruction in curricula tied to the attainment of national skills standards.”

In essence, you get hands-on experience in the Dog training field by working with an established Dog trainer or company.

As an apprentice, you can gain invaluable experience by learning to understand the key behavioral differences between breeds.

For example, a German Shepherd may exhibit traits of a guard dog while a Beagle will always find its way home.

Apprenticeships generally last between 1 and 6 years. Apprentices typically take classes while they are working, which combines real life experience with theoretical knowledge.

These two methods of skill acquisition are complementary and deliver lots of benefits to both the Dog trainer and the employer:


As a veteran Dog trainer or Dog training company, you form a symbiotic relationship with your apprentices while enjoying the following benefits to your business:

  • Low cost, skilled labor
  • On the job training for potential full-time Dog trainers
  • Lower employee turnover – an estimated 91% of apprentices stay with their employer after the program ends


As a Dog training apprentice, you get lots of perks that you wouldn’t have access to just by receiving a Dog training certification:

  • On-the-job training
  • Higher chance of being hired full-time once apprenticeship is complete
  • Credentials signifying apprentice is qualified for a career in Dog training
  • Steady wage increases
  • Learning new methods and training techniques
  • Potential college credits

Dog trainers or Dog training businesses may choose to perform screening procedures to select the best apprentices.

This may include minimum qualifications such as being 18+ years of age and being a college graduate or enrolled in college.

It may also include more complex benchmarks such as aptitude tests, interviews, transcripts, or previous experience working with dogs.

While there is no formal Dog training apprenticeship system in the US, we have compiled a list of the most prominent Dog training apprenticeship programs that we could find. Let us know if we missed any, we’re happy to add them as well.


Wags and Wiggles Training

Wags and Wiggles – California

Laurie Zurborg CPDT-KA has been featured on Animal Planet and runs a prestigious Dog training apprenticeship program under the name Wags and Wiggles.

Wags and Wiggles started in 1999 and remains one of the top Dog training apprenticeships.

House of Dog Training

House of Dog Training – Colorado

The House of Dog Training features multiple certified Dog trainers and runs an apprenticeship program that costs $2500 for 1 year or $5000 for 2 years.

They can help you earn hours towards your certification and even help you with the application process to receive your certification.

PAWS Training Group

PAWS Training Group – Massachusetts

This 150 hour long apprenticeship program prepares you for home appointments, private sessions, training camps, and fostering dogs.

PAWS was founded by Shari-Ann Murphy, who has been training and fostering dogs for over 25 years.

Little Angels Service Dogs

Little Angels Service Dogs – California

The Little Angels Student Trainer Apprenticeship Program has a tuition-free option available, which is the only one we’ve come across so far.

The company operates as a non-profit, and their goal is to “better the community through dog training education, and specifically to assist the disabled through trained assistance dogs.”

Service Dog Academy

Service Dog Academy – Illinois

Mary McNeight CCS, BGS is the head trainer for Service Dog Academy, and was a featured speaker for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers 2013 Conference.

If you’re interested in training medical alert dogs or service dogs, their apprenticeship program may be a good fit.

Front Range K9

Front Range K9 Academy – Colorado

The Front Range K9 Academy apprenticeship is a $2500 program that typically lasts 2-6 months.

Jennifer Hime started Front Range K9 after studying under Dog Trainer Paula Mitchell of Animal 

World, and has been in the Canine training world since 1990.

thisable veteran

thisABLE Veteran – Illinois

The apprenticeship program for thisABLE Veteran is a paid program in Illinois that teaches you to train service dogs for veterans.

This non-profit has been operating since 2011 and was founded by Behesha Doan.

my little dog training academy and daycare

My Little Dog Training Business – Oregon

For residents of Oregon, My Little Dog Training Business is offering an apprenticeship program that prepares you to take your test through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. 

Suzanne Brean started the Academy as an adjunct to her Dog training business, and has the following certifications to back up her knowledge:

  • CP.D.T.-KA, 
  • C.P.D.T.-KSA, 
  • S.T.A.R. Puppy Trainer, 
  • C.G.C. (Canine Good Citizen) 
  • C.G.C. Community Canine Trainer, 
  • C.G.C. Urban Canine Trainer.

Doggie Academy

Doggie Academy – New York

The Doggie Academy apprenticeship program is headquartered in New York at the Brooklyn Dog Training Center.

The internship is free and unpaid, and you must sign a non-compete document stating you will not train dogs in the Brooklyn area for at least 1 year.


Bad Dogs Inc – California

Led by Barbara Davis, the Bad Dogs Inc apprenticeship program is called DogTAP.

Barbara has been certified by both the CCPDT and IAABC, which are two of the most prominent certifying bodies for Dog trainers.

Good Dog Autism Companions

Good Dog! Autism Companions – California

The Apprentice Trainer position for Good Dog is a volunteer position at a non-profit.

It lasts 16 months and is an unpaid apprenticeship.

Good Dog Santa Cruz

Good Dog Santa Cruz – California

Mardi Richmond CPDT-KA, CC heads up the Good Dog Santa Cruz apprenticeship program.

Mardi specializes in force-free training methods, and offers a 1 year program at $400 per month.

whos walking who

Who’s Walking Who – New York

The apprenticeship program for Who’s Walking Who was started by Stacy Alldredge, who has been working in the Canine world for over 24 years.

Legends Dog Training

Legends Dog Training – California

The apprenticeship program for Legends Dog Training comes at a cost of $950.

Amanda Gagnon Dog Training

Amanda Gagnon Dog Training – New York

This apprenticeship program comes in at $4500, but doesn’t require any previous experience with Dog training.

So there you have it. Armed with this knowledge, go forth and learn all the ins and outs of being a professional Dog Trainer by joining an apprenticeship program near you.

You may also want to check out our other Dog trainer-specific articles:

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Did we miss any popular Dog training apprenticeships? Drop us a line at support@pocketsuite.io and let us know! We’d be happy to update our article to include your feedback and suggestions.

Podcast: Kyra Sundance Shares Her Story on Becoming a Top Celebrity Dog Trick Trainer

Listen to “Episode #27: Kyra Sundance Shares Her Story on Becoming a Top Celebrity Dog Trick Trainer” on Spreaker.

In this episode of Professional-on-the-Go, we are talking to Kyra Sundance who is a dog trainer, performer, and author. Kyra quite literally wrote the book on “how to teach dogs to do tricks” called 101 Dog Tricks, which has over 1 million copies in print and has been translated into 22 languages. Her company, Do More With Your Dog http://www.domorewithyourdog.com, is the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of Dog Tricks and has certified over 20,000 successfully trained dogs. She is nationally ranked in competitive dog sports, trains dog actors, and has been featured on programs ranging from Ellen and The Tonight Show to the NBA halftime show.

Kyra Sundance’s story is an inspiration for anyone who has a dream of working for themselves and making a good living. You will learn:

– What inspired Kyra’s super unique career path of becoming a dog trainer
– How Kyra learned how to train dogs to do tricks (and how you can, too)
– Why passion is a great tool for growing and marketing your business
– How Kyra transitioned from her full-time job to running her dog training business, and how that business evolved over time into the one it is today
– The power of focusing on the important versus the urgent in growing your business
– How to maintain passion and joy throughout different stages of business
– Why you need to think about an “exit strategy” as an entrepreneur and independent service professional

Podcast: In Dog Trainers We Trust

Listen to “Episode #20: In Dog Trainers We Trust” on Spreaker.

Today we are talking about an industry that is booming: the pet industry. According to the American Pet Products Association, consumers in the U.S. spend $70 billion on our pets. There are many pet professionals that are tapping into this boom by providing services such as training, grooming, boarding, and walking. In this episode we focus on dog trainers as independent service professionals:

– How do people become dog trainers? What is the typical career path for dog trainers?
– What’s the scope of services that dog trainers provide?
– How much do dog trainers typically charge?
– Do you need to be licensed or certified?
– How does the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) help dog trainers?
– Is there a consensus in the industry about the right and wrong way to train a dog?
– Are there any major changes happening in the industry that anyone considering a career in dog training should be aware of?

Our guest is Nick Hof who has been a dog trainer for over ten years and holds several nationally recognized certifications from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, the Karen Pryor Academy, and more. He is also the Chair for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the largest trade organization for dog training. He owns Paws Look Listen, LLC in Cincinnati, OH which offers private dog training services to busy families.



How to get more dog training clients on yelp!

Are you an up-and-coming Dog Trainer looking to make a splash in the world by building up your Dog Training business? Maybe you have an established Dog Training business and you’re looking to take it to the next level, so you’re eyeing Yelp as a potential source of new clients. Which ever is the case, you’ll want to sit and pay attention, as we are about to untangle the often confusing and definitely tricky world of optimizing your Yelp profile, as well as getting more 5 star reviews.

Despite recent criticism and even lawsuits against Yelp, the online marketplace is still visited more than 178M times per month, according to ReviewTrackers.

These statistics make it a no-brainer to try and make the most of the platform, especially since there’s no way to opt out of having your business profile and public reviews displayed for the world to see (and judge).

That being the case, coupled with the well-known fact that two-thirds of consumers tend to check online reviews before making purchasing decisions, brings us to some important facts that you as a business owner should definitely consider.

If you’re going to operate a Dog Training business, it would be wise to make the most of your Yelp profile, since the upside involves getting more clients for your small business and potentially even making it your biggest source of new clients!

Source: The Advocate


There are several key factors you’ll want to understand before creating a rockstar profile on Yelp.

First, we’ll discuss how to get the details just right on your profile so the highest percentage of clients who see it end up booking your services. 

After we cover that, we’ll shed light on how you can get more 5-star reviews for your Yelp profile so you look more professional and show up higher in the Yelp rankings.

The competition is fierce on Yelp, with a wide variety of Dog Trainers occupying top spots and collecting all of the clients for themselves. Starting today, we’re going to help you grab your fair share of business by following these simple steps.


Let’s start off with the basics. One thing we repeatedly see successful Dog Trainers do is put pictures of their clients on their Yelp profile – both humans and dogs!

If you’re just starting out and don’t have any actual pictures of happy clients or dogs, at the very least use stock images of happy folks and maybe include pictures of your own dog for social proof reasons.

You’ll also want to consider including a picture of you holding up your Dog Training license. This generates immense social proof, instills immediate trust into your potential clients by positioning you as an expert in your field, and leads to a higher conversion rate of folks booking your services.

For more info about this as well as a practical step-by-step licensing guide, read our article on Why You Should Get Your Dog Training License.

The next step is to write a stellar description to share your mission with potential clients.

You want to come across as genuine and willing to go the extra mile and the best way to do that is to communicate your passion for being a rockstar Dog Trainer!

Also, make sure to update the technical aspects of your profile with the correct information about your business. This includes:

  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone number)
  • Website address
  • Description

You should also consider offering a Yelp Deal on your page. You can offer a small discount ($15 for $10 for example) and this will, in turn, place a conspicuous green ‘Yelp Deal’ badge on your Yelp listing. We’ve seen multiple Dog Trainers (as well as businesses in other industries) do this to bring more attention to their listing.

You’ll also want to include your PocketSuite online booking link on your profile, so potential clients can book your Dog Training services straight from Yelp.

This also communicates that you are a professional, established business. That goes a long way, especially if you’re a new, fresh-faced Dog Trainer, ready to tackle and win business from established companies like Wag or Rover as well as other solopreneur Dog Trainers!

Now let’s talk about how to get more 5-star reviews, so clients trust your business even more.


It’s a well-known fact that more 5-star reviews on Yelp means more business.

You should aim to get your first 10 reviews as quickly as possible – let’s discuss the easiest and best ways to do so with limited effort on your part.

The first step is to ask for them – but don’t ask every client after you complete their dog training.

Instead, ask them for feedback about their experience first. Send a quick email, text, or make a phone call and ask them how their dog is doing, and the difference that your training program made in their dog’s behavior.

Once you’ve collected this valuable feedback, ask your happy clients to leave a review.

This will help to self-select the best possible clients to leave a review on your profile – the satisfied ones.

Remember, you shouldn’t ever promise compensation of any kind in exchange for a review – this is frowned upon by Yelp and can even result in them putting a nasty Consumer Notice on your profile warning folks that you tried to manipulate their algorithm or submit fraudulent reviews.

Another benefit of this strategy is that you collect invaluable feedback from your unhappy clients, which helps you improve your training program and also dissuades clients from leaving bad online reviews on Yelp and other sites to try and ‘get back at you.’

Another tip is to mark your ‘Not Recommended’ reviews as Useful, which will help to bump them out of the ‘Not Recommended’ category.

Use this method with caution, and maybe from a different computer or IP address to avoid any kind of trouble with your Yelp profile.


It can be a difficult journey starting your own business, especially when you’re battling for business against entrenched competitors in a crowded market.

Hopefully, the fable below will inspire you to take on the challenge and charge forward confidently:

Two mice fell into a bucket of cream. One mouse gave up and drowned. The second mouse kept swimming, and eventually churned that cream into butter, and walked out.

You are that second mouse! Now go fetch some new clients and let’s build your business!


Now that you’re crushing it on Yelp, how are you going to manage your payments, let your customers create online bookings, manage your classes and schedules, respond to business messages, or collect deposits?

Thousands of successful Dog Trainers are using PocketSuite to do all of this, and making 6 figures as well.

The free plan is yours to play with, so you have nothing to lose (except the hours of time you spend on back office admin tasks).

If you’re already using PocketSuite, learn how you can set it up specifically for Dog Training.

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