How to Become a Guide Dog Trainer

A guide dog trainer bends over and pets a yellow lab guide dog on the head.A guide dog trainer takes a break from training to give the guide dog a head scratch

At Southeastern Guide Dogs, most of our guide dog trainers begin their careers here as canine care technicians, taking care of dogs that are training on our campus. This entry-level position requires a love of dogs as well as good communication skills.

Canine care technicians who desire to become certified guide dog trainers must first complete several prerequisites before applying for a guide dog trainer apprentice position. These prerequisites include:

  • Close up of a yellow lab guide dog looking into the distance90 days of employment at our school
  • Completing an orientation and mobility (O&M) course
  • Attending a workshop on eye conditions
  • Attending a workshop on post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Shadowing a guide dog trainer for a day
  • Shadowing a service dog trainer for a day
  • Shadowing the Admissions and Alumni Support team for three days
  • Serving lunch to a class of visually impaired students
  • Completing a written essay about why the applicant is choosing this career

After canine care technicians have achieved these prerequisites, they may apply for a guide dog trainer apprenticeship as positions become open. If selected, apprentices train for three years alongside our certified training teams. Apprenticeships combine hands-on learning with required reading and testing, with increasing responsibility levels as they advance in their training.

Guide dog training apprentices learn how to train dogs, and they learn how to train the people who need our dogs. Patience, attention to detail, and strong communication skills are a must. And of course, guide dog trainers must love dogs!

After successfully completing an apprenticeship, candidates are awarded certification as a guide dog trainer as prescribed by our accrediting body, the International Guide Dog Federation. Here at Southeastern Guide Dogs, we celebrate these new trainers with a ceremony, recognizing their dedication, skills, and achievements. Becoming a guide dog trainer is a rewarding, meaningful career that comes with the satisfaction of knowing you are helping people lead more hopeful, more confident, and more independent lives.

If you’d like to become a guide dog trainer, consider applying for a position as a canine care technician today. Click here to learn more.

Posted on May 18, 2021 | Category: Ask the Trainer, Blog