Assistance Dog trainer

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Professional Services

What you will do:

In this job, you’ll:

  • work with volunteers who foster puppies and young dogs
  • assess dogs to go forward for training
  • train dogs to the standards required
  • match dogs to new owners
  • train dogs and owners together
  • provide aftercare and support for owners and their dogs
  • keep accurate records


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and instructing
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • 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 (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
  • thinking and reasoning skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an assistance dog trainer, you’ll need a strong foundation in animal behaviour, training techniques, and communication skills. While there are no specific subjects that are mandatory for this career, certain subjects can provide a foundation for skills and knowledge that will be helpful in your future studies and career as an assistance dog trainer.

Here are some subjects that can be beneficial:

  1. Biology: Understanding the biology of animals, including their anatomy, physiology, and behaviour, can be essential for working with dogs.
  2. Psychology: Psychology courses can provide insights into animal behaviour, learning, and cognition, which are fundamental for training dogs effectively.
  3. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is important for handling and working with dogs, so a good foundation in PE can be beneficial.
  4. English Language: Effective communication skills, including writing and speaking, are important for training dogs and communicating with dog owners.
  5. Mathematics: Basic mathematics skills can be useful for record-keeping, managing training schedules, and understanding training data.
  6. Agriculture or Animal Care: If your school offers courses related to agriculture or animal care, they can provide valuable knowledge about animal husbandry, nutrition, and welfare.
  7. Environmental Science or Geography: Understanding the environment and how it can affect dog behaviour and training is important for an assistance dog trainer.

Ultimately, the most important qualities for an assistance dog trainer are patience, empathy, and a genuine love for working with animals, particularly dogs. The specific path to becoming a successful assistance dog trainer may vary, but a combination of education, hands-on experience, and dedication to the well-being of the dogs you work with is essential.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

You could do a course at college which may give you some of the skills and knowledge needed to do this job.

UK Courses include:

  • Level 1 or 2 Diploma in Animal Care
  • T Level in Animal Care and Management

You may be able to start by doing an intermediate apprenticeship as an animal care and welfare assistant.

With experience, you could move onto an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.

You could get into this job by starting as a kennel worker then move on to training dogs and working with their owners.

You could gain experience of working with dogs and using positive training techniques through volunteering.

This might include:

  • volunteering at kennels
  • helping at a dog rescue centre
  • working for an animal welfare organisation

Direct Application
You can apply directly for jobs if you’ve got some experience of working with dogs.

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of basic dog handling and positive training techniques
  • understanding of the issues faced by disabled people

Depending on the people they support, some employers may also ask for more specific skills like:

  • sign language when working with deaf people
  • experience of teaching or instructing people
  • knowledge of specific conditions like epilepsy, dementia, sight loss or autism

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you’ll work 35 to 40 hours a week, occasionally including evenings and weekends.

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

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

Career Path & Progression:

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.
With experience you could become an area team supervisor, training manager or regional manager.

You could move into related jobs like veterinary nurse or animal care inspector.

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