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Dog Walking Academy Curriculum

What you'll learn

Get all your questions answered:

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Why does he do that?

Gain a deep understanding of perplexing dog behavior, from humping and hackles to fear and aggression in all of its various forms.

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How can I stop that behavior?

Learn science-based, humane ways to end pulling on leash, stop the barking and lunging at other dogs, and all manner of other unwanted canine antics.

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Is that safe?

From troubling dog-dog interactions to walking equipment choices to transportation questions, our course will boost your understanding and confidence.

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What about the business side?

We’ll cover all your business questions, what to charge to how to get more clients, and more–everything you need to make a great living walking dogs.

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What you’ll learn at the Dog Walking Academy

How dogs think and learn

Understanding how dogs’ minds are similar to and different from our own lets us set aside common misperceptions to more effectively mold canine behavior and make walks easier and safer.

Did you know?
Contrary to how it often seems, dogs aren’t capable of understanding right from wrong. How they see the world and make choices is very different from humans.

Canine ritualization and body language

Learning to read the complex and often subtle language dogs use to communicate with each other and with us takes the guesswork out of working with dogs, minimizing misreads and counter-productive responses.

Did you know?
Often misunderstood as a sign of dominance, humping is most often a clumsy invitation to play.

Canine aggression

You’ll learn what aggression is—and isn’t—and how to spot it early to avoid unwanted incidents between dogs or toward yourself or other humans. You’ll also learn the safest, most effective ways to break up a dog fight.

Did you know?
Most of the behavior we think of as aggression is fear-based: All that snarling and lunging and barking is a desperate attempt to get the scary thing (usually another dog or a human) to go away. Understanding this changes how we handle aggression, making positive behavior change more likely.

Screening & group composition

Which dogs you walk makes all the difference in how enjoyable, safe, and stress-free your walks will be. Learn how to effectively screen for the dogs who are the right fit for you—and for each other when offering group walks.

Did you know?
Predatory drift is a common safety risk when walking large and small dogs together. Drift accounts for a high percentage of deaths and life-threatening injuries between dogs, and happens most often between non-aggressive dogs who know and enjoy each other’s company.

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Walk management and basic training

Learn tricks for keeping your walks safe, calm, and fun. You’ll learn how to handle everything from pulling on leash to coming when called, and from leash reactivity to resource guarding—and everything in between. We’ll also discuss sharing park, trail, and sidewalk space with other dogs and people outside of our control.

Did you know?
Punishing leash reactivity can make it worse by deepening the negative conditioned emotional response (CER) driving the behavior. But simple training techniques aimed at changing the emotions behind the lunging and barking can turn a leash Cujo into a leash Lassie.

Canine first aid and emergency planning

As part of the course you’ll become canine first aid certified. You’ll also learn step-by-step protocols for all the types of emergencies that can arise during a dog walk—as well as how to avoid them.

Did you know?
The least effective way to capture a dog who has bolted from you is to chase after her. Doing so actually increases the likelihood of her becoming lost.

Car manners and safety

We’ll discuss best vehicles and safest restraint systems, as well as how to avoid frustrating, distracting dog behavior during transport, like whining and barking, redirected barrier frustration, space guarding, and car sickness.

Did you know?
Many dog fights and squabbles that break out in the first few minutes of a walk can be traced to tensions created during transport.

Running a successful dog walking business

There’s more to a successful dog walking business than walking dogs. At the dogbiz Dog Walking Academy, you’ll benefit from dog business advice from the leading business consultancy in the industry. Learn how to set up a legal business, choose your rates and set strong policies, market yourself, manage client intake, and build a financially sustainable business you can rely on.

Did you know?
Most dog walking companies price themselves too low. That effort to compete not only means you make less money when you get clients, but makes you less likely to get them, too.

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Curriculum details

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Engaging presentations

Learn from our friendly, skilled instructors
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Interactive activities

Master new ideas and skills

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Hands-on practice

In-Person DWA includes group dog walking field trip
Online DWA includes one-on-one dog walking field trip

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Lots of Q & A time

Via Q&A periods during In-Person DWA
Via Q&A calls during Online DWA

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Who is the DWA for?

Our curriculum is designed for serious dog pros of all experience levels

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Seasoned dog walker?

We’ll honor what you know, incorporating your rich experience and building on it to serve your needs.

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Brand new to professional dog walking?

Enjoy a supportive environment designed to get you up to speed, and up and running with confidence.

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All adult ages welcomed.

Our graduates span from 20-somethings pursuing a first career to mid-life career changers to seniors seeking a gratifying retirement career.

Please note that the dogbiz Dog Walking Academy is a professional program for adults 18 and older. 

Read additional policies >>

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What DWA grads say

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Contributor Merjeski

“There is so much to learn in this business, and your program covered everything! You gave me the knowledge and confidence to start my own dream business.” 

–Jill Merjeski, Jill’s Next Door, Delray Beach, FL

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“I learned so much and am using that knowledge daily. After taking the class, I’m much more aware of group dynamics, body language, and recognizing potential issues before they become a problem. Kudos to you all at dogbiz! I hope the DWA becomes a requirement for all dog walkers someday.” 

–Matt Williams, Family Dog Walking, Oakland, CA

Ready to start a new dog walking career or elevate your current one?

Become a Certified Dog Walker.