Different Types of Dog Training Apprenticeship Programs

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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.