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Animal Training Schools and Courses

Whether your interest is in training pets, performance animals or horses, get the answers to your questions about program curricula, degree options and online program opportunities.

What You Need to Know

You'll need to determine which types of animals you'd like to train, as animal training programs are geared towards specific animals. Programs typically include a combination of textbook studies and real-world training.

Programs Certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees in zoology, animal science, equine studies or a related field; animal training programs not leading to credentials
Schools Community colleges, private universities, professional associations, institutes
Online Available for some types of animal training, such as dog training

What Kinds of Animal Training Schools Can I Attend?

You will find a great many choices when it comes to deciding what animal training program you'd like to attend. For example, you may want to work with exotic animals, such as big cats; maybe you'd like to study obedience training for dogs. If you love horses, equine training programs are available. Community colleges, private universities and professional associations may offer programs and courses that teach you how to train exotic animals, dogs or horses.

What Will I Learn?

Some schools have training zoos where you can learn to work with exotic animals, like pot-bellied pigs or red foxes. The amount of time it takes to complete these programs can vary significantly. Core courses may include:

  • Herpetology
  • Animal development
  • Entomology
  • Mammalogy
  • Comparative anatomy

Dog training programs and courses are offered at a variety of levels. For example, a basic training course will teach you how to train a dog to sit, fetch, heel and stay. Advanced training programs might include lessons in first aid and problem behavior modification. These programs are often available through professional organizations; successful completion might result in continuing education units.

What About Training for Exotic Animals?

Exotic animal training programs can be demanding; in addition to regular classwork, you might be expected to spend extended days as well as weekends working at a school's animal training facility. Successful completion of core courses may result in a certificate; you might earn an associate's degree by completing the core curriculum as well as general education courses.

What Degree Options Do I Have?

Some community colleges offer an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Horse Training and Management. In an A.A.S. program, you could learn how to break-in a colt or teach a horse how to navigate a competition rink. Some programs culminate in an internship with a trainer of your choice.

You might earn a Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies with a specialization in training and instruction. In this type of program, you'll study concepts like dressage, stadium jumping and classical horse training. You may need to have prior horse riding experience before applying to a bachelor's program.

Can I Take Courses Online?

Some dog training courses are offered online; you might explore topics like obedience training, housebreaking, hunting training, basic veterinary techniques and crate training. You'll learn how to understand dog behavior and communicate with your pet. You'll also learn how to deal with improper behavior through conditioning and reinforcement.

Online course content may be delivered via the school website, downloadable training manuals and instructional DVDs. You can earn a diploma by successfully completing some dog training programs.

What Are Examples of Training Programs?

You have a range of options to choose from depending on your interests. Here are a handful of programs that demonstrate the broad nature of what's available when it comes to animal training:

  • Penn Foster Career School: Dog Obedience Instructor
  • Moorpark College: Exotic Animal Training and Management
  • Becker College: Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies
  • Animal Behavior Institute: Animal Training and Enrichment
  • Johnson and Wales University: Equine Business Management/Riding
  • Animal Behavior College: Dog Training
  • Oswego State University of New York: Zoology Minor
  • Tarleton State University: Bachelor of Science in Animal Science
  • Ohio University: Associate's in Equine and Applied Science