Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor

Career Diploma

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Your program consists of 12 Instruction Sets designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you'll use in your new career.

Here's how it works
You receive the first course as soon as your enrollment has been accepted, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams. Here is an overview of what you'll learn and the order in which you'll access your lessons:

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, and an email account to complete this program with Penn Foster.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal: The Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor career diploma program prepares students for a career as an entry-level dog obedience trainer.

Program Outcomes:
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify the senses of a canine and know how they function, and define the learning theory and classical and operant conditioning
  • Describe common behavior problems and strategies for prevention and treatment, identify the pros and cons of punishment versus reinforcement, as well as the signals and displays that dogs use to communicate with each other and with humans
  • Apply knowledge of behavior problems by recommending behavior modification plans for the dogs in the three given scenarios
  • Define dog testing, state the functions of the American Kennel Club, and list its seven major groups of dog breeds
  • Apply knowledge of dog selection by selecting an appropriate breed for the persons in the case studies as well as selecting an inappropriate breed
  • Identify the various types of canine training, know the commands to teach dogs basic obedience, and recognize types of dog-training equipment
  • Apply knowledge of agility training by examining agility course diagrams and indicating correct and incorrect sequences and identifying handling techniques
  • Identify dog tricks are and know how to use them, describe what play is an why it's important for a domesticated dog, as well as name recreational activities involving dogs
  • Name the exercises required for classes of competition and describe the ways dogs are used to assist humans
  • Describe basic nutrition, reproductive function, and caring for a dog in old age, as well as know first-aid procedures for shock and wounds
  • Outline a dog training business plan, describe effective advertising and marketing strategies, and describe how canine day care centers are run
  • Apply knowledge of the dog training business by writing an evaluation of the demographics as they pertain to starting a dog training business and providing information necessary to develop a business plan

Instruction Set 1

Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program. Understand how to use your Student Portal. Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers. Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

Introduction to the Dog Training Profession
Structure of the dog; types of training; history and ethology of the dog.

Instruction Set 2

Sensory Abilities of the Dog
How dogs see, hear, taste, detect scents, and use touch; using knowledge of a dog’s senses in the training process.

Social Behavior and Communication
How and why dogs communicate; evaluating a dog’s demeanor by watching “from head to tail”; a dog’s relationship with its human “pack.”

Instruction Set 3

How Dogs Learn
How dogs learn; identifying and employing scientific theories of psychologists and behaviorists; using a dog’s learning abilities to teach and motivate.

Identifying Postures (Graded Project)

Instruction Set 4

Conditioning and how it relates to dog obedience training; difference between classical and operant conditioning; drive theory and its application.

Applied Dog Behavior
Applied dog behavior; punishment versus reinforcement; nature versus nurture; effects of genetics; clicker training and the scientific principles behind it.

Instruction Set 5

Testing and Selection of Dogs
Temperament testing and using it to evaluate puppies; selecting the best dog for a particular client.

Housetraining and Crate Training
Proper housetraining techniques; training a dog to go on command, in a litter box, or in one place; how to choose and use a crate.

Dog Selection (Graded Project)
Pairing the most suitable breed with a prospective owner.

Equipment: Dog poster

Supplement: Testing and Selection of Breeders

Instruction Set 6

Canine Equipment
Food bowls to leashes to safe toys.

Basic obedience training.

Instruction Set 7

Ensuring a positive human-dog bond at an early age; puppy house training; socialization and how to prevent problems in adult dogs.

Teaching Tricks
Instructing clients to teach tricks to their dogs; positive reinforcement techniques for the dog and handler; fun and useful tricks.

Training Through Play
Understanding play behavior; play in the context of obedience training; increasing the dog’s motivation for training.

Instruction Set 8

Behavior Problems
Common behavior problems; strategies for prevention and treatment.

Basic Veterinary Issues
Recognizing signs of illness or distress; how to respond in the case of an emergency; addressing behavioral problems; reproductive science; medications; care for dogs in old age.

Behavioral Analysis (Graded Project)
Analyzing scenarios to determine if there’s a behavioral problem involved.

Instruction Set 9

Dog Breeds
Origination of individual breeds; physical and temperamental characteristics; the AKC’s seven major groups of breeds.

Competition Obedience
Terminology and requirements of the various levels of competition obedience.

Reference: The Right Dog for You

Instruction Set 10

Hunting Training
Examine hunting breeds; different training methods; hunting and field tests.

Assistance Dogs
Guide, hearing, service, seizure alert, and therapy dogs; dogs in medical emergencies; legal aspects of working with an assistance dog.

Instruction Set 11

Agility Training
Navigating agility courses as a sport; speed and accuracy in competition; communication between dog and master.

Search and Rescue Training
Techniques in ground and water searches; what dogs are suitable for a particular rescue mission; organizations involved in search and rescue around the world; certificates associated with this work.

Recreational Activities with Dogs
Sharing “down-time”; catch, flying disc, and walks in the park; organized activities for dog and owner.

Agility Handling and Courses (Graded Project)
Build an agility course using standard symbols of agility course design.

Instruction Set 12

The Dog Training Business, Parts 1 and 2
Demographics related to starting a business; developing a plan; obtaining funding; advertising and marketing issues; customer relations; legal issues relative to a small business.

Creating a Business Plan (Graded Project)
Developing a mock business plan using the information gathered from the preceding business units.

Supplement: Work Experience Option


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster College have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster College International.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.

Completion of 8th grade education is required to enroll in this program.

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