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Old 06.12.2011, 10:00
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Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Hi

I have two dogs and really enjoy training with them. I have often thought in passing whether I'd like to do dog training professionally. In the UK its pretty straight forward lots work experience then certificates depending on which area you specialise.

How do I start this in CH? Do I have to go back to formal schooling? Obviously there will be a cost involved. Does anyone know what that is? I'm just trying to find a starting location for my research.

To add....I'm a corporate professional and enjoy that working life. Well in the UK I did when I was working but nothing really gets me thrilled to work than seeing the Success of a dog learning and happy confident owners.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06.12.2011, 10:18
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Hi, you have to be qualified, if you want to teach the nationally required dog courses. This involves about 20 read and test modules, 13 weekend courses, each of which only seems to run once a year in Switzerland, a theory exam and then a practical exam. All of which is, of course in German.
See http://www.atn-ag.ch/

If you have already done some form of training, I'm sure you could just set up on your own, but not sure how much business you would get.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.
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Old 06.12.2011, 10:41
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

I don't know about your training philosophy, but you might want to also contact his group -

pdte.org

pet dog trainers of europe. It's an organization started by Turid Rugaas in Norway, but they have several members in Switzerland a network of members... might be useful to align yourself with a professional group - these guys are all about positive methods. In addition to doing the required training for Switzerland, these guys might have other programs that are of interest. Also the Swiss members might be able to help you with training resources here.
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Old 06.12.2011, 15:47
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

DHD,

What a great idea!

(Caveat: I am not a trainer, not by a long shot. I'm something of an amateur student of canine behavior, a 'hobby practitioner' experimenting with my own herd of messed-up mutts, and an avid consumer of training services. I've had some success within my comfort zone working of with certain types of canine ASBO hounds, but I am well aware of my limitations - so I could never be a professional trainer. Take what I say from the client's perspective. )

As you probably already know, it takes a lot more than being 'good with dogs' to become a professional dog trainer, and here in Switzerland there are (as always) additional bureaucratic hurdles to clear.

A good trainer first and foremost has an innate love of dogs: all dogs, no matter what the issues the dog brings to the table. A good trainer understands the very great responsibility he/she undertakes**, understands the consequences of making mistakes. A good trainer has a solid background in canine behavioral science, has both theoretical and successful hands-on experience with dogs presenting diverse training and rehabilitation challenges, has developed a coherent training philosophy, is well-read in all the prevailing theories of dog training - including those to which he/she may not subscribe - is in possession of a well-stocked and continuously updated training 'toolbox', pursues continuing education throughout his/her career, has an understanding of canine physiology and basic medical care, has a solid understanding of canine genetics, has a solid understanding of the various breeds, especially where instinct, character and health issues impact behavior, has proven success at managing 'pack dynamics' when dealing with multiple dogs, has an in-depth understanding of local and national dog law, and... is very, very good at managing people. This last is something that is easy to overlook - but bottom line, you are working with the owner more than with the dog.

A trainer does not train a dog - no, a good trainer trains the owner to train the dog.

RobertL and Edot have pointed out, there are two things to consider: qualifications towards teaching the SKN, and defining your approach based on your overall training philosophy, general qualifications, experience, and skill. You will need to establish legitimacy and creditability in order to win clients.

Setting up a dog training business requires additional planning. You need to understand the various possible Swiss business structures, understand taxes, liability insurances, etc. And of course the hardest thing: finding a place to run your business. (My trainer has horror stories about the permit process she had to go through to get permission to set up her training ground.)

---

First the SKN. As I'm sure you know, these are mandatory courses all dog owners must take. In order to teach these courses to the public you must first train with and be qualified by one of the institutions certified by the BVet - no one else may teach the SKN 'Ausbildner' courses to would-be instructors.

And to be frank: unless you are a certified SKN instructor, you might not be seen as credible in Switzerland, even if you are targeting a different market. Simple fact - while the SKN is only a drop in the bucket, while there is plenty of scope for other training expertise, anyone claiming to be a trainer but not certified to teach the SKN may be seen as somewhat suspect in the public mind. Holding SKN qualification is becoming expected, goes a long way to establishing legitimacy in Switzerland.

So information on becoming a certified SKN instructor can be found here:
http://www.bvet.admin.ch/tsp/02222/0...x.html?lang=de

As RobertL points out, you must be proficient in German.

---

Now let's talk about 'real' training, work beyond the SKN.

First what qualifications do you already bring to the table? Do you have any degrees/certifications, further education from your home country? If so, find out how that would translate to Swiss experience. Even if you intend to target your business to expats you will likely need Swiss qualifications or coursework, as most expats look to their trainers to help them understand the Swiss system, Swiss mores and expectations, and to advocate for them should the need arise.

Second, have you defined/refined your own training philosophy? This will be important, as many clients will come to you with their own ideas, often looking for a trainer who shares similar basic values. I don't expect a trainer to slavishly follow one school of thought, but I do look for someone who has a broad base of knowledge, is conversant in various theories, can suit the solution to the problem at hand using the best approach for the individual. One thing I absolutely insist on is: positive training using operant conditioning - no adversives, no 'dominance' school. Clearly stating your approach is key to successful marketing - and to a successful relationship with your clients.

Take a look at other trainers' websites - most list their CVs. This could give you a good idea of the types of courses you might need. International experience is highly prized, as most of the recognized behavioral experts are from outside Switzerland (Turid Rugaas, Clarissa von Reinhardt, Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Patricial McConnell, to name but a few.) Attending seminars and courses outside Switzerland is also a very good idea. A training institute I respect is Animal Learn in Germany: www.animal-learn.de My trainer is certified through Certodog www.certodog.ch , and continuously takes further education classes with various training institutions and experts. Several of my UK colleagues have or are doing degree courses (some distance) through various institutions - here is a discussion on another forum you might find of interest :http://www.dogpages.org.uk/forums/in...owtopic=138149 And, of course, do follow the link that Edot gave. Credentials are important, especially in Switzerland.

You might start by informally attending seminars and workshops - make sure that this is something you really want to do before investing. As you might expect, Swiss courses will be expensive.

I would also recommend speaking with trainers you know and admire - ask if you can observe classes, ask for their advice as to coursework, ask if you can do an 'apprenticeship'. My trainer has had several assistants helping with her classes, folks who are still doing their Ausbildung.

---

Ask yourself what kind of classes you want to offer: Welpenspielstunde? Basic Obedience? Familienhunde? Dog sports like agility, flyball, Treibball, Mobility, RallyO, CaniX, Longieren, Manwork, Schutzhund, etc? All of the above? Do you want to work one-to-one with clients? Do you want to work with a group? Do you want to do behavioral work - that is, working with 'problem dogs'? Each approach requires it's own expertise and you might need to vary your business model to suit.

I've been attending a Hundeschule for almost 6 years now. I started with Hooligan, intending to just do a basic course. Well, it soon became apparent that she had some serious 'ishoos', so the trainer and I worked out a rehab program involving 1-1 sessions, theme-specific classes, and Familienhunde to work on her behavior and socialization. All these years on, we are still doing Familiienhunde, and will as long as we live here. Along the way, I added three more dogs and agility, flyball, team training, scentwork, longieren, and Triebbball, classes for senior and handicapped dogs, the SKN, and a skill-specific classes. Many of our classmates have similarly been involved for years. So - a 'one-off' client can turn into a long-term relationship if you can offer a variety of classes and services.

----

To start, read this very important book:

In Defence Of Dogs, by John Bradshaw.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Defence-Dogs...3182234&sr=1-1

---

** In Switzerland, an SKN certified dog trainer may also be considered a mandatory reporter.

---

Lastly, may I ask - if you decide to pursue this, would you mind posting your experiences as you work towards qualifications? I'd be very interested in learning more about the Swiss Ausbildung system.

Wishing you all the very best.
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Old 06.12.2011, 22:25
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Quote:
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DHD,

What a great idea!

(Caveat: I am not a trainer, not by a long shot. I'm something of an amateur student of canine behavior, a 'hobby practitioner' experimenting with my own herd of messed-up mutts, and an avid consumer of training services. I've had some success within my comfort zone working of with certain types of canine ASBO hounds, but I am well aware of my limitations - so I could never be a professional trainer. Take what I say from the client's perspective. )

As you probably already know, it takes a lot more than being 'good with dogs' to become a professional dog trainer, and here in Switzerland there are (as always) additional bureaucratic hurdles to clear.

A good trainer first and foremost has an innate love of dogs: all dogs, no matter what the issues the dog brings to the table. A good trainer understands the very great responsibility he/she undertakes**, understands the consequences of making mistakes. A good trainer has a solid background in canine behavioral science, has both theoretical and successful hands-on experience with dogs presenting diverse training and rehabilitation challenges, has developed a coherent training philosophy, is well-read in all the prevailing theories of dog training - including those to which he/she may not subscribe - is in possession of a well-stocked and continuously updated training 'toolbox', pursues continuing education throughout his/her career, has an understanding of canine physiology and basic medical care, has a solid understanding of canine genetics, has a solid understanding of the various breeds, especially where instinct, character and health issues impact behavior, has proven success at managing 'pack dynamics' when dealing with multiple dogs, has an in-depth understanding of local and national dog law, and... is very, very good at managing people. This last is something that is easy to overlook - but bottom line, you are working with the owner more than with the dog.

A trainer does not train a dog - no, a good trainer trains the owner to train the dog.

RobertL and Edot have pointed out, there are two things to consider: qualifications towards teaching the SKN, and defining your approach based on your overall training philosophy, general qualifications, experience, and skill. You will need to establish legitimacy and creditability in order to win clients.

Setting up a dog training business requires additional planning. You need to understand the various possible Swiss business structures, understand taxes, liability insurances, etc. And of course the hardest thing: finding a place to run your business. (My trainer has horror stories about the permit process she had to go through to get permission to set up her training ground.)

---

First the SKN. As I'm sure you know, these are mandatory courses all dog owners must take. In order to teach these courses to the public you must first train with and be qualified by one of the institutions certified by the BVet - no one else may teach the SKN 'Ausbildner' courses to would-be instructors.

And to be frank: unless you are a certified SKN instructor, you might not be seen as credible in Switzerland, even if you are targeting a different market. Simple fact - while the SKN is only a drop in the bucket, while there is plenty of scope for other training expertise, anyone claiming to be a trainer but not certified to teach the SKN may be seen as somewhat suspect in the public mind. Holding SKN qualification is becoming expected, goes a long way to establishing legitimacy in Switzerland.

So information on becoming a certified SKN instructor can be found here:
http://www.bvet.admin.ch/tsp/02222/0...x.html?lang=de

As RobertL points out, you must be proficient in German.

---

Now let's talk about 'real' training, work beyond the SKN.

First what qualifications do you already bring to the table? Do you have any degrees/certifications, further education from your home country? If so, find out how that would translate to Swiss experience. Even if you intend to target your business to expats you will likely need Swiss qualifications or coursework, as most expats look to their trainers to help them understand the Swiss system, Swiss mores and expectations, and to advocate for them should the need arise.

Second, have you defined/refined your own training philosophy? This will be important, as many clients will come to you with their own ideas, often looking for a trainer who shares similar basic values. I don't expect a trainer to slavishly follow one school of thought, but I do look for someone who has a broad base of knowledge, is conversant in various theories, can suit the solution to the problem at hand using the best approach for the individual. One thing I absolutely insist on is: positive training using operant conditioning - no adversives, no 'dominance' school. Clearly stating your approach is key to successful marketing - and to a successful relationship with your clients.

Take a look at other trainers' websites - most list their CVs. This could give you a good idea of the types of courses you might need. International experience is highly prized, as most of the recognized behavioral experts are from outside Switzerland (Turid Rugaas, Clarissa von Reinhardt, Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Patricial McConnell, to name but a few.) Attending seminars and courses outside Switzerland is also a very good idea. A training institute I respect is Animal Learn in Germany: www.animal-learn.de My trainer is certified through Certodog www.certodog.ch , and continuously takes further education classes with various training institutions and experts. Several of my UK colleagues have or are doing degree courses (some distance) through various institutions - here is a discussion on another forum you might find of interest :http://www.dogpages.org.uk/forums/in...owtopic=138149 And, of course, do follow the link that Edot gave. Credentials are important, especially in Switzerland.

You might start by informally attending seminars and workshops - make sure that this is something you really want to do before investing. As you might expect, Swiss courses will be expensive.

I would also recommend speaking with trainers you know and admire - ask if you can observe classes, ask for their advice as to coursework, ask if you can do an 'apprenticeship'. My trainer has had several assistants helping with her classes, folks who are still doing their Ausbildung.

---

Ask yourself what kind of classes you want to offer: Welpenspielstunde? Basic Obedience? Familienhunde? Dog sports like agility, flyball, Treibball, Mobility, RallyO, CaniX, Longieren, Manwork, Schutzhund, etc? All of the above? Do you want to work one-to-one with clients? Do you want to work with a group? Do you want to do behavioral work - that is, working with 'problem dogs'? Each approach requires it's own expertise and you might need to vary your business model to suit.

I've been attending a Hundeschule for almost 6 years now. I started with Hooligan, intending to just do a basic course. Well, it soon became apparent that she had some serious 'ishoos', so the trainer and I worked out a rehab program involving 1-1 sessions, theme-specific classes, and Familienhunde to work on her behavior and socialization. All these years on, we are still doing Familiienhunde, and will as long as we live here. Along the way, I added three more dogs and agility, flyball, team training, scentwork, longieren, and Triebbball, classes for senior and handicapped dogs, the SKN, and a skill-specific classes. Many of our classmates have similarly been involved for years. So - a 'one-off' client can turn into a long-term relationship if you can offer a variety of classes and services.

----

To start, read this very important book:

In Defence Of Dogs, by John Bradshaw.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Defence-Dogs...3182234&sr=1-1

---

** In Switzerland, an SKN certified dog trainer may also be considered a mandatory reporter.

---

Lastly, may I ask - if you decide to pursue this, would you mind posting your experiences as you work towards qualifications? I'd be very interested in learning more about the Swiss Ausbildung system.

Wishing you all the very best.

Wow Meloncollie.....I think I have cracked open a right can of worms here.... Well for me I have a lot more research to do.

My first issue...German.....I am not at a proficient level yet so this is my first hurdle.

I need to go away and do some serious thinking and report back. Thank you so much for your very details and VERY VERY helpful post.

Watch this space
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Old 07.12.2011, 18:21
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

DHD, I was talking to a friend who is doing something similar...

While she is pursuing her SKN instructor certificate, she has set up a 'dog club' where dogs and owners meet for structured play, discussion, and training tips. She is also taking some one-to-one clients to work on their dogs' specific issues. She hadn't set up a training school yet, but she is establishing a local reputation which will hopefully lead to a client base in the future. A good idea, I think.

And to re-iterate - only the SKN instructor requires specific coursework and certification. For all other types of training there are no legal restrictions; anyone can call him/herself a trainer and hang out a shingle. Of course, one shouldn't do so without a solid background and skills.

Again: Good luck!
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Old 09.12.2011, 17:12
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Another tip:

Next month's edition of The Whole Dog Journal' - a magazine I very much enjoy - will include an article on 'So You Want To Be A Dog Trainer?'.

The magazine is only available by subscription, both the print version and online. The website contains limited free content, however - enough to browse through to get a feel for whether you want to subscribe or not:

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/

WDJ focuses on training issues, health and nutrition. There is a lot of useful info, thought-provoking articles, reviews, etc. The journal has a definite editorial slant, and I don't always agree with them - but a very good resource nonetheless. It's US-based, so some products/services discussed will be unavailable in CH/Europe.

If you wish, I'll pass along the January issue when it arrives.

Last edited by meloncollie; 09.12.2011 at 17:33.
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Old 10.12.2011, 22:50
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Oh thank you. I'll have a gander at the online issue too see If its something i d like.

If you want to pass on the January addition I would be extremely grateful.
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Old 14.12.2011, 14:47
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

I was reading into some research today and whilst looking at requirements for dog training qualifications, I was wondering if I studied a course in England via distant learning this would be recognised in Switzerlan? Just a thought
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Old 14.12.2011, 16:29
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Certainly international courses look good on a trainer's CV - many dog owners understand that the bulk of cutting-edge behavioral work is happening outside of Switzerland. International credentials would be especially valuable if you are thinking of working largely in the expat community. Certainly most of us here would be most impressed to see that you had studied with Turid Rugass or Sheila Harper (just an example) - and might not recognize the names of the Swiss 'biggies' in the field.

UK/US courses would be a great start, would help you build your all-around knowledge, hone your skill-set, give you a broader perspective on specific issues and keep you abreast of many of the new developments and debates in behavioral science.

However, courses from anyone but the BVet-recognized training institutions, which are all Swiss-based, will not help you towards the SKN. Only these institutions can certify an SKN trainer.

You can be a trainer without the SKN, but you can't offer SKN courses.

I do think it's important to hold SKN certification from a marketing in Switzerland perspective, as the SKN is mandatory for all dog owners - making this is a great way to build a client base. Once a client has started with a trainer for one course, he/she is likely to continue on with further training.

But you could start building your business without SKN credentials, and offer other kinds of courses - and then set the SKN certification as a longer-term career goal. I've seen several trainers who list 'in der SKN Ausbildung', that is, 'currentlly working towards the SKN qualification' on their CVs. What that does is shows that you are a serious trainer, aware of Switzerland's rather unique canine culture.

The key thing will be to develop a solid background in canine behavioral science, one that will make your clients feel they are in safe, knowledgeable hands. Start by garnering experience and credentials your clients will understand - and as above, if you are targeting expat dog owners often UK/US/European credentials are indeed more recognizeable - and then when you are ready: go for SKN certification.

All the best.
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Old 01.03.2012, 21:57
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Just seen this thread, lots of really good information here.

One more question: German... is it really necessary? I am in Vaud, French speaking part of Switzerland, no one down here speaks German so seems a little strange that you must speak German, also would completely end my thoughts of becoming a dog trainer here!!
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Old 01.03.2012, 22:25
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

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Just seen this thread, lots of really good information here.

One more question: German... is it really necessary? I am in Vaud, French speaking part of Switzerland, no one down here speaks German so seems a little strange that you must speak German, also would completely end my thoughts of becoming a dog trainer here!!
In your case change "German" to "French"
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Old 03.09.2012, 21:03
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

This is a great thread you all! I have been thinking of exactly the same thing, and find that I'm not the only one with 2 dogs who is interested in 'taking things to the next level'.

I bookmarked this page, and will read and reread to find out if it makes sense for me to pursue this in Switzerland, but there are some seriously great posts on this thread, thanks for that !!
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Old 03.05.2013, 22:39
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Thanks again Melloncollie for this amazing information
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Old 03.03.2021, 13:22
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

Hello, I just wanted to revive this thread again. I am a qualified UK dog trainer and have been running my business for 3 years, with a healthy client list. We are hoping to move to Switzerland soon and I would like to continue practicing there. Does anyone know if the SKN is available in French? We are hoping to move to Valais. My french is good but my German is abysmal! Also, I found one course that was 6k 😱 does anyone know what the average price for the course is? Some links would be much appreciated

TIA
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Old 03.03.2021, 13:32
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

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Does anyone know if the SKN is available in French? We are hoping to move to Valais.
Yes, any such required courses or qualifications must always be made available in the official languages of the canton, so in this case definitely includes French. You should be able to find most of you answers on the VS website:
https://www.vs.ch/web/scav/veterinaire/chien
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Old 03.03.2021, 15:37
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

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Hello, I just wanted to revive this thread again. I am a qualified UK dog trainer and have been running my business for 3 years, with a healthy client list. We are hoping to move to Switzerland soon and I would like to continue practicing there. Does anyone know if the SKN is available in French? We are hoping to move to Valais. My french is good but my German is abysmal! Also, I found one course that was 6k �� does anyone know what the average price for the course is? Some links would be much appreciated

TIA
Topdog, the SKN courses refered to in this old thread were abolished a few years ago. So that part is no longer relevant.

(A bad decision from our politicians, one we are already seeing the consequences of... but that's another thread...)

We no longer have training requirements at the federal level. Rather, dog control is left up to each of the individual cantons. Some, like canton ZH, have mandatory training classes for dogs of a certain adult size. Others have training requirements for dogs of specific breeds. Others have nothing at all. It's a jungle of 26 differing rules now.

Ace1 has provided the link to the Valais site - you will want to start there to learn what is required of dog owners in canton Valais. And then build your training offerings from there.

Going from hazy memory, 6K sounds about right for some of the dog instructor courses I've seen. The question is, of course, whether that particular course offers certification that would be widely recognized by your client base - and more importantly, would it be of interesting professional development to you. Continuing professional development courses tend to be on the expensive side in Switzerland - so you want to make sure you are spending wisely. Be aware that not all that is out there is of equal value.

You might want to contact EF member CherryTree, who is a professional dog trainer in the greater ZH area. Perhaps she might be willing to share some insights.

---

Wishing you all the best wth this venture!
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Re: Interested in becoming a dog trainer ....

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Hello, I just wanted to revive this thread again. I am a qualified UK dog trainer and have been running my business for 3 years, with a healthy client list. We are hoping to move to Switzerland soon and I would like to continue practicing there. Does anyone know if the SKN is available in French? We are hoping to move to Valais. My french is good but my German is abysmal! Also, I found one course that was 6k 😱 does anyone know what the average price for the course is? Some links would be much appreciated

TIA
Hello Topdog,

Here are some links that might help. Unfortunately most of them are situated in the German spoken part of Switzerland, but maybe they can forward your request.

The SKG - Swiss Kennel Club - offers a lot of courses, also in the French spoken part: https://www.skg.ch/trainerausbildungen-skg?lang=fr

Same does the SC Akademie: https://www.sc-akademie.ch/ausbildun...-hundeexperte/

And Matsh: https://matsh.ch/angebot/trainerausbildung

The best behaviorist in Switzerland is Sonja Doll-Hadron - www.hunde-verhalten.ch and Harry Meister - idee-chien.ch

Hope this helps.
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