When it comes to finding the right dog training school, there are a lot of things to consider. What should the school criteria include? How can you tell if a dog training academy is reputable or not? In this article, we’ll show you how to choose a dog training school that’s right for YOU and your career goals!

So, let’s get started, shall we?

Should YOU become a professional dog trainer? Check out this article to find out if you have what it takes!

How To Choose a Dog Training School: In-Person Vs. Online

When it comes to choosing a dog training school, you have 2 options: in-person or online. Let’s break down the pros and cons of each type of training program.

In-Person Dog Training School


  • You can build a strong rapport with your classmates and instructors.
  • You’re able to get immediate feedback on your performance.
  • It may be easier to find dogs to work on during your classes.


  • It can be expensive to travel to/from the school.
  • In-person programs are usually a lot more expensive.
  • The class schedule may not be flexible enough to accommodate your work/life schedule.
  • You may not be able to find a program close to home.
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Online Dog Training School


  • Online programs are a lot more affordable (i.e., lower tuition overall, payment plans, etc.).
  • You can study at your own pace and on your own schedule.
  • There are a lot of online programs to choose from.


  • With the wrong kind of online school, it can be harder to get feedback on your progress.
  • You may not have as much interaction with classmates and instructors.
  • If you’re not self-disciplined, it can be easy to get distracted when you’re studying at home.
  • You’ll have to be more proactive about finding dogs to practice on.

So, which type of program is right for you?

If you feel like you’d benefit from the structure of an in-person program, as well as the ability to build relationships with classmates and instructors, then that’s probably the route to consider. However, if you’re looking for an affordable option that allows you to study at your own pace, then an online dog training school would be the better choice.

For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that moving forward, you want to learn more about picking the right online dog training school…

How To Find an Online Dog Training School: Must-Have Criteria

When you’re looking for an online dog training school, there are certain criteria that the school itself should meet. Here are a few things to look for:

✅ The Institution Is Properly Accredited

There are a LOT of scammers out there. So, when you’re looking at online dog training schools, be sure to check and see if the institution is properly accredited. This means that it has been evaluated by an outside agency and determined to meet certain standards.

QC Pet Studies, for example, holds an A+ ranking from the Better Business Bureau. Moreover, it’s a faculty of QC Career School – and this company has been a trustworthy pioneer of distance learning since 1984!

✅ The School Has a Proper Website

When you’re looking at an online dog training school, take a look at its website. Does it look professional? Is it easy to navigate? Are the school’s policies, procedures, and course information clearly laid out?

A school’s website can tell you a LOT about the institution as a whole. If it’s poorly designed or doesn’t have much information, that could be a definite red flag!

QC Pet Studies’ website is designed with the student in mind. It’s easy to navigate and has all the information you need right at your fingertips.

Cute corgi dog looking into computer laptop working in glasses and shirt

✅ The Instructors Are Qualified

When you’re looking at an online dog training school, make sure to also check out the qualifications of the instructors. Do they have the experience and expertise to be teaching this course? Are they properly certified?

The dog training instructors at QC Pet Studies – Shannon Noonan and Susan Read – are highly qualified! Not only do they have years of experience in the industry (a whopping 45 years combined!) – they’re also reputably certified, too!

Shannon, for instance, is Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA®). Our other tutor, Susan, specializes in Search and Rescue (SAR) work and is currently the only OPP/OSARVA certified dog handler in Central Ontario with her live find dog, Zena.

Furthermore, QC’s Dog Training Course was put together with the help and expertise of dog trainer extraordinaire, Kim Cooper! With over 35 years’ experience training dogs, and over 29 years of instructing under her belt, Kim is an industry legend. Just some of her notable accomplishments include:

  • Certifying 4 SAR dogs to OPP standards! For reference, only 20 dogs have ever achieved this certification – and Kim is proud to have coached 14 of them, and partner to 4.
  • Certifying 1 SAR dog to RCMP standards!
  • Getting certified as a FEMA Canine Search Specialist! This makes Kim 1 of only 2 Canadians to ever achieve this certification.
  • Certifying 4 cadaver dogs with IPWDA and NAPWDA!
  • Handling over 300 searches for missing persons!
  • Becoming the Founder of the Ottawa Valley SAR Dog Association!
  • Becoming the Founding Director of the Ontario SAR Volunteer Association!
  • Earning Trainer of #5 Obedience Dog in Canada (all breeds) 2006!
  • Being a valued member of the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers (CAPPDT)!
  • And SO much more!

✅ The School Is On Social Media

When you’re looking at online dog training schools, make sure to check and see if they’re active on social media. This is a great way to get an idea of the school’s culture, what kind of community it has, etc. Plus, these days, if a company isn’t on social media, it definitely gives off a suspicious vibe!

QC Pet Studies is very active on both Facebook and Instagram! We love connecting with our students and sharing tips, tricks, blog posts, and resources. Plus, we frequently post pictures and videos of our happy students (and their pups!).

✅ Their Support Team Is Actually Reachable

When you’re looking at online dog training schools, make sure to also check out their Customer Support Team. Are they easy to reach? Do they respond to inquiries in a timely manner? Are they friendly and helpful?

The QC Pet Studies Student Support Team is amazing! They’re available 7 days a week by phone, email, and live chat (depending on your preference). Plus, they’re always quick to respond to any questions or concerns you might have.

It also helps that they’re super friendly – and more than happy to help you out, no matter what the issue might be!

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Dog Training Course Criteria

Now that we’ve gone over some things to look for in an online dog training school, let’s talk about the actual criteria the program itself should meet. Here are some must-haves to look for…

✅ The Dog Training Course Offers a Solid Curriculum

When you’re looking at online dog training courses, make sure to check out the curriculum of the course itself. Does it cover everything you’re hoping to learn? Is it designed by experienced professionals?

QC Pet Studies offers a comprehensive dog training course that covers everything from obedience training to behavioral issues. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, the course was put together with the help and guidance of dog trainer extraordinaire, Kim Cooper!

Check out the full curriculum for QC’s online Dog Training Course here!

✅ The Program Is Affordable

Of course, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth when you sign up for an online dog training course. But that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank! Fact is, there are plenty of affordable options out there.

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Training Course is one of the most affordable you’ll find! Plus, QC offers a low monthly payment plan option. As a result, you can spread out the cost of the course over time!

To learn more about the cost (and payment options) of QC’s Dog Training Course, click here!

✅ Your Training Offers Real-World Experience

When considering the different dog training courses offered online, make sure to find one that actually offers hands-on experience. After all, what’s the point of taking a course if you’re not going to get any real-world training?

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Training Course offers students countless opportunities to put their new skills to the test in a real-world setting – and with real-life dogs! What’s more, this program also challenges students to:

  • Develop a Puppy K (Kindergarten) Program
  • Put together a Basic Obedience Program
  • Develop homework assignments that would be given to real-world dog owners
  • Gain experience actually teaching dog owners and their pooches

Not only will this give you the chance to get some experience under your belt – but it also looks great on a resume!

✅ There’s Business Training Involved As Well

If you’re looking to start your own dog training business, then it’s important to find a course that also offers business training as part of the curriculum. After all, there’s a lot more to starting a successful dog training business than just knowing how to train dogs!

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Training Course offers students the opportunity to learn everything they need to know about starting and running their own dog training business. From building a clientele to marketing your services, this course covers it all!

Bulldog Puppy Dressed As Businessman Sitting At Desk Looking At Computer

✅ You’ll Get a Legitimate Certification Upon Graduating

When you complete an online dog training course, you should be proud of your accomplishment! And what better way to show off your new skills (and certification) than by displaying it for all the world to see?

QC Pet Studies is a well-respected and accredited institution. This means that when you graduate from our Dog Training Course, you’ll walk away with a globally-recognized International Dog Training Professional™ (IDTP™) certification. Plus, this also acts as your official title/designation!

✅ BONUS: Your Dog Training Course Will Prepare You For The CPDT Exam

If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, then you should consider becoming an official Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). And if that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure you choose a dog training course that’ll help you prepare for this exam.

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Training Course was designed with the CPDT exam in mind. In fact, the final unit of this program will arm you with invaluable information about the test, provide helpful tips, and even give you a practice quiz to make sure you’re ready!

So, if you’re thinking about becoming a certified professional dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, QC Pet Studies is the perfect place to start your journey!

Deciding On an Online Dog Training Academy: Red Flags To Avoid

Now let’s move onto the red flags you’ll want to watch out for. After all, choosing the wrong school can be a costly mistake – both in terms of time and money.

In terms of the shady schools out there, keep an eye out for the following warning signs…

🚩 The School Is Unaccredited

As we mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of QC Pet Studies is our accreditation. But in contrast, there are many online dog training schools that are unaccredited. And while this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad school, it’s definitely something to be aware of.

If a learning institution isn’t properly recognized, it could mean that:

  • They don’t adhere to certain quality standards
  • They’re not properly licensed
  • They might not be around for very long
  • It’s not a legit school

Obviously, all of these are valid concerns! So, if you come across an online dog training school that’s unaccredited, just make sure to do your due diligence before enrolling.

🚩 The Dog Training School Has a Poor Reputation Online

Another red flag is if the school has a poor reputation online. This could manifest itself in the form of negative reviews, complaints, etc.

Of course, every school is going to have at least a few unhappy students – that’s just the way it is. But if the majority of what you see online is negative, then that’s definitely something to be wary of.

The best way to get an accurate idea of a school’s reputation is by reading reviews from multiple sources. That way, you can get a well-rounded picture of what people are saying about them.

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🚩 You’re Promised “Quick and Easy” Results

When it comes to choosing a dog training school, you’ll want to be careful of any promises that seem too good to be true. For example, if a school claims you’ll be able to train your clients’ dogs in less than a month, then that’s probably not realistic.

Now, we’re not saying that it’s impossible to train a dog quickly – some dogs do pick things up faster than others. But in general, it’s going to take more time than that.

So, if a school is making any grandiose promises, just be sure to do your research before enrolling. After all, you don’t want to waste your time and money on something that’s not actually going to work.

🚩 The Tuition Is Dirt Cheap

Next, you’ll want to be careful of any schools that have ridiculously low tuition fees. In general, decent quality dog training courses are going to cost a few hundred dollars at the VERY least. And the reality is, most high-quality programs will cost at least a grand.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. But if a school is claiming they can train you for less than $100, then that’s definitely a red flag. A good rule of thumb is that in most cases, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

So, just be sure to do your research before enrolling in any course.

🚩 You Have To Pay Extra For Your Actual Dog Training Certification

You should also be wary of any schools that make you pay extra for your certification. In general, the fee for your certification should be included within the cost of tuition.

If a school is trying to make you pay extra for it, then plug your nose – because something smells fishy! The last thing you want  to do is waste your money on something that’s not actually going to be beneficial for you… And if the “school” is asking you to essentially buy your certification after successfully completing the course, it’s probably a scam.

So, just be sure to do your research and make sure the certification provided is included in the cost of tuition before enrolling in any course.

🚩 It’s All Textbook Learning… And ONLY Textbook Learning

When you’re looking for a dog training school, you’ll want to make sure they offer more than just textbook learning. While it’s important to have a foundation in the theoretical knowledge, you’ll also want to make sure you’re getting some practical experience.

Ideally, the school should offer both classroom-based learning AND hands-on experience. That way, you can graduate with the confidence that you know how to actually train dogs – not just the theory behind it.

So, if a school is only offering textbook learning, it’s not going to be the best fit for you. This is why we highly recommend doing your research and finding a program that offers a combination of both classroom-based learning and a hands-on approach.

🚩The School Uses Inhumane Training Methods

Finally, you’ll want to make sure the school you choose doesn’t use any inhumane training methods. Unfortunately, there are still some dog trainers out there who use aversive techniques – such as electric shock collars – to train dogs.

These types of methods are not only cruel, but they’re also ineffective. In fact, they can actually do more harm than good. So, if you come across a school that uses any of these types of methods, just walk away.

There are plenty of other schools out there that use positive reinforcement-based training methods – which are not only more effective, but also kinder and more humane. Basically, don’t waste your time with a school that uses inhumane techniques!

Maltese playing with dog run

How To Become a Dog Trainer

Now that you know how to choose the right dog training school, it’s time to start your journey to becoming a certified dog trainer! Just remember to do your research, ask around for recommendations, and make sure the program you choose is accredited.

We also STRONGLY encourage you to check out our Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming a Dog Trainer! This article will break down all of the following information for you:

  • How long it takes to become a working dog trainer!
  • Key skills needed for a prosperous career!
  • Salary expectations!
  • How to become a dog trainer in 5 easy steps – even if you have no experience!

Other Useful Resources To Bookmark

If you’re serious about becoming a dog trainer (and we know you are), then we also recommend bookmarking the following resources as well:

Knowledge Is Power: 3 Random Facts About Dog Training

Before we wrap things up, here are a few interesting facts about dog training (and the industry) that you might not have already known!

Fact #1: Cesar Millan is regarded by many as the “best” dog trainer in the world…

…But this is subjective and up for debate! One of the methods Millan has been known to use is called “flooding” – and to many, this is a harmful, unproductive way to train a canine.

When it comes to the most famous dog trainers in the world, there are some alternate names that often get thrown into the ring, such as:

  • Paul Owens
  • Michael Ellis
  • Forrest Micke
  • Tyler Muto
  • Karen Pryor
  • Amr Salama
  • Zak George
  • Patricia McConnell
  • Susan Garrett
  • Dave Salmoni
  • Doggy Dan
  • Victoria Stillwell
  • Bruce Fogle
  • Andrea Arden
  • Kyra Sundance
  • Graeme Hall
  • Joel Silverman
  • Grisha Stewart
  • Sarah Pennington
  • Nigel Reed
  • Tamar Geller

Learn more about these dogs trainer (plus MANY more) here!

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Fact #2: The best age to begin dog training varies depending on what you want them to learn!

Obedience Training

Did you know that puppies as young as 7-8 weeks old are able to start learning obedience training? In fact, this is actually the best age to begin this type of training for a pup!

During these early weeks, puppies are incredibly absorbent – they’re like little sponges soaking up everything around them. So, if you can start teaching them proper manners and obedience during this time, they’re more likely to retain the information.

Formal Training

On the other hand, if your client is looking to start more formal training with their canine, then they’ll need to wait until the dog is a bit older – around 7 to 12 weeks old.

At this age, puppies are typically right in the middle of their “fear period” – which is a crucial time for socialization. So, on the one hand, it’s important that they’re not introduced to anything that could scare or traumatize them during this time!

But on the other, this is also the best time to start teaching them things like tricks, manners, and obedience. This critical time of their lives allows for a better opportunity for the lessons to really stick.

Specialization Training

Now, if your client wants to train their dog for a specific skill or behavior – such as agility, tracking, etc. – then they’ll need to wait until they dog is a bit older than the two previous types of training. For example, most experts recommend waiting until a dog is at least 18 months old before starting agility training.

In this instance, the reason is that these types of activities are quite high-energy, and puppies simply aren’t able to handle the physical (and mental) demands until they’re a bit older.

Fact #3: Old dogs can, in fact, learn new tricks!

One of the most common questions dog trainers get asked is “Can old dogs really learn new tricks?” And the answer is a resounding YES!

In fact, you can actually use a dog’s age to your advantage when training them – as they tend to be more calm and less distractible than younger pups.

Of course, this isn’t to say that every single senior dog out there will be a perfect candidate for training. But if your client has an older canine that they want to train, don’t hesitate to tell them it’s possible!

close-up portrait of senior dog


So, there you have it – everything you need to know about choosing the right online dog training school for your needs! We hope this article was helpful in guiding you through the process.

Do you have any questions or thoughts to add? Let us know in the comments below. And as always, thanks so much for reading!

Happy training! 🐶

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