National K-9® Learning Center

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School for Dog Trainers

The School

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to questions most commonly asked by prospective students trying to determine whether to pursue a career in dog training.

We recognize the importance of your career decision and hope the following will assist you with your evaluation of National K-9’s programs and their potential benefits. If your questions are not answered here, please call us toll free at 1-888-927-1991, locally at 614-864-0213 or email us at We look forward to the opportunity to further assist you.

Is National K-9 a recognized school?

Yes, National K-9 is approved by The Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools (reg. # 82-02-0753T) and as such, must comply with all the rules and regulations established by the State of Ohio.

The State of Ohio recognizes both the Professional Obedience/Behavior (3-weeks) and the Master Trainer (6-weeks) Courses, thereby granting National K-9 the authority to issue certificates to graduates. These certificates allow our graduates to use the title of Certified Professional Trainer (CPT). These certificates are accepted throughout the United States and around the world.

What exactly is a professional dog trainer?

A professional dog trainer is an individual who:

  • Understands the major personalities of the dog

  • Knows how to evaluate, read, and understand dog behavior

  • Applies appropriate humane techniques to reliably train various breeds or mixed breeds of dogs

  • Educates dog owners in proper dog handling and communication skills

  • Assists dog owners with behavior modification and the solving of a dog’s and owner’s bad habits

Is dog training a respected profession?

To some, dog training is considered more of a hobby than a career. However, the growth of the overall dog population has created a demand for better-behaved dogs. This has led to an increased need for qualified professional dog trainers. The need for individuals that possess the knowledge and skills to humanely and successfully train a dog so that it becomes a more enjoyable pet are in high demand. Respect, however, is something that one must earn. At National K-9 students are taught a professional code of ethics and advised to conduct their business dealings with honesty and integrity.

Can I make a good living at this profession?

If you are sincere, eager to learn, and enjoy working with people as well as dogs, a good living can be made. Like most any profession, success is based on the individual. The National K-9 School for Dog Trainers will give you the education and the assistance required to successfully pursue a career in dog training.

Graduates of our courses pursue a wide variety of interests within the fields of dog training, behavior, handling, and care. The success of each individual is dependent on the individual’s desire, skill, and motivation. While no school can guarantee a graduate success or a particular salary, we find that with dedication and hard work you can make an above average income. Like any other profession, personal drive will establish your income level.

Why is the demand for dog trainers growing?

Recent statistics show a continuous worldwide growth in the dog population. America leads the list with an estimate of over 70,000,000 pet dogs at present and continual evidence that the number will continue to increase. These are just a few reasons qualified dog trainers are in demand. Here are some of the other reasons:

  • While everyone wants one of "man’s best friends", few owners have the time, patience or knowledge to train their own pet.

  • When dog owners become frustrated with their dog’s bad habits, they frequently call their veterinarians for advice. Veterinarians often don’t know whom they can recommend nor have the time to adequately help each client.

  • While breed clubs serve a good purpose in promoting breeds and maintaining the breed standards, their training sessions are generalized and classes often have 10-30 dogs at one time. While helpful for some dogs and owners, very little individual attention is possible.  Dogs often remain untrained and the owners are left feeling frustrated.

  • While group classes are helpful for some dogs and their owners, many dogs and owners do not recieve the personal attention they deserve and require.  In a group atmosphere it can sometimes be difficult to fully address a particular dog owner’s concerns or a dog’s problems.  Professional trainers should be qualified to determine if training is best suited to be done in a group or one-on-one basis.  It is sometimes more beneficial to participate in group sessions later in a dog’s training to assist the owner and dog with distraction training. 

  • While there are some novice trainers who train a few dogs as a hobby, the average dog owner needs much more help than today’s novice trainer is capable of giving.

  • Because a family’s security is a concern in some parts of the United States and the world, many families choose large breeds of dogs for their protective instincts. These dogs need to be properly trained by a professional so they do not become a liability.

  • Improper breeding and lack of training cause many behavioral problems in dogs. Since there are no laws in America governing the genetics of breeding, individuals are free to breed anything they care to and due to this, many undesirable traits surface in the breeds. These undesirable traits may lead to behavior problems and these must be understood and modified by the professional dog trainer.

Is a career in dog training for everyone?

It definitely takes more than just a love of dogs to become a dog trainer.  The professional dog trainer must be able to communicate with the dog owner in order to teach proper owner handling and problem solving.  In order to train dogs of all sizes and personalities, men and women must also be in good general health.  

The National K-9 School for Dog Trainers prepares students to handle and educate dog owners through classroom instruction and proper customer relation skills.  In short, if you enjoy dogs, feel you can communicate with the owners, and are in good general health, then a career in dog training could be for you.

Are there jobs within the field of dog training available and how will I find out about them?

Yes, there are jobs available for qualified and dedicated individuals. Although most of our graduates do decide to go into business for themselves, National K-9 does provide a listing of jobs available to our graduates. These job listings come to us from businesses around the United States and the world. Interested students will receive counseling to help them in establishing their goals and pursuing their career interests.

What experience must I have before starting school?

No experience is necessary, but our students must care for animals and have a genuine interest in improving the relationship between people and dogs. National K-9 has had graduates complete our courses that had never previously owned or cared for a dog. National K-9 does not provide advanced standing for students that have previous related experience, credit, or have attended another course or school.

Can I learn enough in six weeks to become a professional dog trainer?

The National K-9 School for Dog Trainers provides an educational foundation to successfully pursue a career in dog training.  At National K-9, our program of instruction is extremely intensive.  We also encourage students to spend additional hours studying, practicing and perfecting their techniques through independent study.  All studies at National K-9 relate directly to professional dog training.  Graduates of our school agree that they must work hard to cover all phases of training and are eager at the end of six weeks to go out and apply what they have learned.  

National K-9 students are taught that a dog trainer’s education is ongoing.  Graduates are encouraged to continue their education whether it is through continued independent study of dogs, joining professional organizations, studying with other professional trainers, attending seminars/workshops/conferences and much more.

What requirements must an applicant meet?

To attend National K-9, an applicant must be in good physical health and be physically capable of the rigorous demands.  National K-9 reserves the right to require a doctor’s written permission prior to attendance or to decline an application for health reasons.  National K-9 may require testing of an applicant’s physical abilities.  If you have questions regarding the physical requirements of National K-9’s courses please contact one of our instructors.  

Applicants should also have a working knowledge of the English language (verbal and written).  This includes the ability to speak clearly and confidently when working with people. Each student must also be capable of expressing the concepts covered throughout the course in various essay exams in order to receive certification.

Individuals seeking enrollment are required a “National K-9 School for Dog Trainers Application for Admittance” completed in its entirety and $50.00 registration fee (in United States dollars).  Applicants must also provide proof of a high school diploma or equivalent (G.E.D.) in order to be accepted into a course.   

Are there any age requirements for the course?

At National K-9, a student must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or the equivalent. You are never too old to learn, but good health is necessary. We are proud to point out that our graduates range in age from 18 to 69 years old. If you have additional questions regarding the physical requirements of the course, please feel free to contact one of our instructors.

What is the average age of students that attend National K-9?

The average age is 33 years old.  National K-9 has had students participate in our courses between the ages of 18 to 69.

Does National K-9 have any financial aid programs?

No, students must provide their own funding.  Full tuition payment is due on or before the first day of the course.   

Although the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers does not provide financial aid, we will gladly accept most any financial aid a prospective student is able to obtain as long as the full tuition payment is received on or before the first day of the course.  Check with your local library, they usually have information on financial aid such as grants or scholarships.  You will need to contact financial aid agencies and sources to determine their requirements and restrictions.  

Please note that the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers chooses not to participate in the Federal Title IV Program. National K-9 also does not offer scholarships, payment plans, internships, exchange services, or give discounts to prospective students.  The Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools regulates our school and the state requires that we have the same policy for each student that wishes to attend National K-9.  Full tuition payment is due on or before the first day of the course.  

What methods are taught at the school?

National K-9 is a school that is dedicated to advancing the field and profession of dog training. We encourage each student to approach dog training as you would any other educational endeavor. If you start by having preconceived notions about dog training, there is a possibility that you will not be able to broaden your knowledge base.

At National K-9 we do not encourage a single "method" or training "tool". Our function is to educate individuals on the theory and proper use of as many training tools or methods as we possibly can. Training tools in and of themselves are not good or bad. It is how they are used that makes them effective in training or harmful to dogs. We have graduates that practice their trade using a multitude of different tools and methods. These graduates in turn have successful business practices and very satisfied clients.

We try to instill in all our graduates the ability to evaluate each individual situation and then choose the appropriate or best-suited approach for that particular situation. Each dog is an individual and must be approached in that way. We should let the dog show the trainer how to train based on the dog’s personality, social development, past and present behavior, aptitude for learning, and the dog owner’s goals for that particular dog. In most situations, there is often more than one possible approach or method to training an individual dog. We should not try to make the dog fit into a singular "method" of training.

Our ultimate priority is the education and care of interested students, dog owners, and their dogs. There are thousands of dog owners now enjoying their dogs due to our various methods of instruction. Students are also taught business ethics, practical business theory, customer relations and basic advertising skills in relation to professional training.

How does the grading system work?

Students are evaluated individually and informed of their progress by our instructors. Student strengths and weaknesses are discussed and the student receives suggestions for improvement of skills. Written tests are given at the end of the third and sixth weeks on all subject matter covered in the classroom and workshops. In order to graduate, a student must pass these written tests and also pass a series of hands on handling tests in each area of study in order to receive certification.

Is student counseling available?

National K-9 realizes that some students need additional help due to a variety of reasons. These students receive additional tutoring and counseling free of charge while in attendance and once a student graduates, he or she may call or email our instructors for advice on any problem that they may encounter.Our low pupil-teacher ratio allows close monitoring of student progress and students experiencing difficulty may ask for and receive additional assistance. Because of this, National K-9 enjoys a near-perfect graduation record.

Will I have the knowledge to solve dog’s bad habits?

One of the main reasons professional, knowledgeable dog trainers are in such demand today, is because the average dog owner does not have the ability to remedy bad habits such as chewing, excessive barking, digging, running away, etc. This is usually the first time most dog owners seek professional help. At National K-9, your education would not be complete without this form of instruction. National K-9 reveals multiple remedies to solve and prevent bad habits in addition to practical application of obedience training and theory.

Will I be taught customer relations?

We at National K-9 feel it takes much more than the ability to train dogs to be a great success. Since 1975 we have been developing techniques to better educate dog owners and prevent misunderstandings and friction between dog owner and dog trainer. Teaching such techniques as customer evaluation and customer instruction is an integral part of our curriculum.

Will I have the knowledge to start my own business?

Yes. Because dog training is such a specialized field, the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers teaches much more than sound fundamentals of dog training.  We offer a basic business program, which stresses the skills necessary for public relations and the basic structure of a successful dog training business.  

Graduates that choose not to work for another dog training company or do not have the capital to open their own training center begin by going into people’s homes to work with the dog and the owner.  National K-9 will teach you how to go about starting your own business.  Some of our graduate students prefer this low overhead, in home training to any other set-up, while many prefer to continue further and establish their own training studio or center.

What is the size of the average class?

We average 10 students per class.  We take no more than 16 students so we can maintain quality instruction.  The average student to instructor ratio is 1 instructor for every 3 or 4 students (depending on the overall class size). 

Can I bring a dog with me?

Yes, we encourage each student to bring a dog to take through the course.  The following are our recommendations to prospective students that allow them to get the most out of their experience at National K-9.   

We recommend a medium to large sized dog.  Smaller dogs and puppies are usually candidates for the 3-week Professional Obedience Course but may not be mature and/or large enough for the advanced training included in the 6-week Master Trainer Course.  Giant breeds are not recommended due to the physical demands of some segments of the courses.  We have had a wide range of dog breeds and mixed breeds participate in our courses.  The breed you choose would be a matter of personal preference.  The size, type of coat, characteristics, and activity preferences for a dog varies from person to person.

We recommend a dog between the ages of 8 months to 3 years for the 6-week Master Trainer Course.  Dogs 4 months to 8 months can be candidates for the 3-week Professional Obedience Course but may not be mature and/or large enough for the advanced training included in the 6-week Master Trainer Course.   Dogs under 4 months of age are not permitted in either course.  Dogs over 3 years up to 5 years may be candidates for the 3-week Professional Obedience Course.  If you are considering a dog less than 8 months or over 3 years age please contact an instructor to discuss in more detail.

The dog you bring should not have previous professional/formal training.  Ideally the dog should have very little or no training at all.  Dogs that know a few basic commands and have some basic manners may still be eligible. Dogs with formal or extensive training will prevent the school’s instructors from assessing student’s progression in practical workshops and during practical testing.  Dogs should be social with people and other dogs but not have any major behavior problems.  Dogs with excessive aggression, fear or shyness are not usually good candidates for students to work with due to the length and intensity of our courses. Training dogs with excessive aggression, fear and shyness will be covered during our courses.  If you have questions regarding the dog’s behavior, please contact an instructor.

All dogs should be in good physical health, have no physical limitations, and be current on all vaccinations.  If you plan to bring a non-spayed female, she cannot come in heat/season while in attendance.  Please note that changes in environment may alter the timing of a female’s heat cycle.  Females in heat/season are not in an appropriate mental or physical state to participate in the intensive training involved in our courses.  Females that do come into heat/season while in attendance will need to be removed from the course and facility immediately.  Dogs must also be free of internal and external parasites.

All students’ dogs are provided with grooming facilities and an individual kennel and food bin.  Students at National K-9 have access to their dogs as needed for workshops, independent study, and exercise.  

If you have any questions about whether your dog would be a good candidate, please contact National K-9 for guidance, 614-864-0213. 

What if I do not have a dog that meets the requirements of the course? Do I need to go out and get one?

If you are unable to bring your own dog, we suggest that you consider asking a friend, relative, or neighbor about the possibility of using their dog during the course. We recommend a medium to large sized dog that has not had formal training.

If you are unable to find a dog for the course, National K-9 will provide one for you at no additional charge. Dogs that we provide have been evaluated by our trainers and are often dogs in need of training from local families in the Columbus area. This dog will be used for all your hands-on workshops and testing. The training and the care of the dog that we provide will be your responsibility for the entire three or six weeks you are at National K-9. Students that are provided with a dog are required to live in National K-9’s onsite Residence Hall for the entire three or six weeks. This ensures that the student is available to properly care for the dog. National K-9 will not provide a dog to a student that commutes on a daily basis.

As soon as you know that you will not be able to bring a dog with you, contact the National K-9 school administrator to make arrangements. In order for National K-9 to provide a dog you must notify National K-9 at least 45 days in advance of your scheduled course start date.  Students must have also paid their housing payment in full.  If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our instructors.

Do you offer a correspondence course?

No. If you are serious about dog training as a career, we recommend hands-on instruction from experienced trainers that are qualified instructors. No internet/correspondence course, videotape/DVD, CD-ROM, or book can replace the immediate feedback an experienced instructor/trainer can provide.

Do you have any other locations?

No. National K-9 is a one-of-a-kind school, which is located in Columbus, Ohio. We have had students attend from all 50 states and more than 40 different foreign countries.

Do you offer night or weekend classes?

No. Our curriculum is extremely concentrated and we can provide full time instruction only (Monday through Saturday for three or six full weeks).

When does instruction take place?

National K-9’s classroom instruction and practical workshops take place Monday through Friday from approximately 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM for three or six full weeks (depending on the course). Students usually have an hour for lunch along with two 10 to 15 minute breaks daily. Students are required to attend observations of our client lessons, new client evaluations, training follow–up lessons, and our puppy preschool program on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Students must also continue independent study in the evenings and on Sundays.

Can I take the 3-week Professional Obedience/Behavior Course and complete the final 3 weeks to receive the Master Course Certification at a later date?

Yes. Students can split up the Master Trainer Course into two separate 3-week courses if needed due to scheduling or financial reasons. For example, a student may take the 3-week Professional Obedience/Behavior Course and at a later date take the additional or final 3 weeks to complete the Master Trainer Course (for a total of 6 weeks). Contact our school administrator for more information regarding requirements and costs.

Does my tuition include housing in National K-9’s on site residency hall?

No. Tuition does not include the cost of housing or meals. Students may choose to live on-site in student housing, commute from somewhere in the Columbus area, or may opt to stay off site in a local hotel. You can contact our school administrator for a listing of area hotels that are dog friendly. Students are responsible for their own meals throughout their course. See the course scheduling information for more information on tuition and applicable housing fees. In addition to the housing fee, students staying the residence hall are required to submit a $10.00 key deposit. All students should also be prepared to bring at least $25.00 for additional training equipment.

If I live locally or obtain my own housing, can I commute to and from National K-9?

Yes, if you live in the Columbus metropolitan area you can commute to and from National K-9 on a daily basis. We recommend that commuting students keep their commute to under a half hour to allow them to get the most out of their experience. If you are not from the area and prefer not to stay in the residence hall, you may stay in a local hotel or obtain alternative housing. Contact our school administrator for a listing of area hotels that are dog friendly.

Commuting students will bring their dog with them to class each day. Commuting students will also be responsible for continuing independent training with their dog each evening. Commuting students’ dogs are not required or permitted to stay in the student kennel facility overnight. Contact one of our instructors if you have additional questions regarding commuting to school with your dog.

Does National K-9 accept International students?

Yes, National K-9 has had students from over 40 foreign countries. All students must be able to adequately comprehend and apply the English language. This includes the ability to speak clearly and confidently when working with people. Each student must also be capable of expressing the concepts covered throughout the course in various essay exams in order to receive certification. International students may be subject to a phone interview to confirm their English comprehension level.

National K-9 cannot assist in obtaining a Visa to enter the United States. National K-9 is not a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school and cannot issue a Form I-20 for initial attendance. Only a SEVP-certified school can issue a Form I-20 to obtain a Student Visa. International students that have attended National K-9 in the past have received a Visitor’s (Tourist) Visa. This is because our courses are less than 90 days (three or six weeks).

If an International Student is unable to bring their own dog for the course, National K-9 will provide a dog at no additional charge. The student must inform National K-9 at least 45 days prior to the course start date. The dog provided will be used for all workshops and testing. The training and the care of the dog would be the student’s responsibility for the entire three or six weeks at National K-9. Students that are provided with a dog by National K-9 are required to live in the school’s residence hall to ensure that they are able to care for the dog. If you are an International student, do not hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions by email at or 614-864-0213.

Do students have access to the Internet?

Students that bring a computer with them will have access to a high-speed wireless Internet service (Wi-Fi) in the classroom and residence hall.  Computers are not required for the course.  National K-9 does not provide a computer or printer for usage by students.  Laptop and handheld computer usage is prohibited during classroom instruction, practical workshops, and trainer observations.  

How far is National K-9 from the airport?

For those students that need to fly to Columbus, the trip from the John Glenn Columbus International Airport-CMH (formerly Port Columbus International Airport) to National K-9 is approximately 10 minutes. National K-9 will provide pick-up and drop-off service for you and your dog (if needed). Contact our business office for more details.

Can I visit National K-9 before making my decision to attend?

Yes, we encourage all prospective students to visit National K-9 for a tour and to have an opportunity to meet with one of our instructors. This is an excellent opportunity to see National K-9 for yourself and to have any of your questions answered. If you would like to set up a time to meet with an instructor and take a school tour, contact our school administrator at 614-864-0213 or toll free: 1-888-927-1991to set up a time.

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