The Harvard for Dog Trainers

It's About the Curriculum

Since its founding in 1999, The Academy has meant excellence. Our graduates have achieved the highest certification available in the dog training industry. They run thriving behavior practices, training schools, and behavior and training departments at shelters. They are authors, lecturers and veterinarians with behavior added to their practices. They are educators who make the world better for dogs all over the world.

It's About the Culture

The Academy community is populated by the most supportive, collegial, and intelligent group of staff, graduates and students in the world of applied dog behavior. Our discussion groups are welcoming, safe, active, intellectually fearless, and unrelentingly high-level. And, nobody gets into dogs to increase the drudgery in their lives. We love to have fun.

It's About the Standard

We vet applications for dog training and wrangling history, academic aptitude and a personality well-suited to a challenging curriculum and a profession with a lot of moving parts, counseling families on often complex behavior problems. Some of our students go through one or more of the other programs available on dog training to prepare for their enrollment in The Academy, whereas others apply directly to The Academy. If your application does not meet entrance criteria, you may re-apply to The Academy at a later date if there are concrete missing elements you are able to remedy.

Academy Founder and Principal Instructor Jean Donaldson

The Academy for Dog Trainers was founded in 1999 by Jean Donaldson. She ran it for ten years as a residential program at The San Francisco SPCA before spending a year and a half re-inventing the curriculum as a two-year e-learning course. The goal of the new format is to broaden the scope and content of the program, include the latest research on behavior and training, as well as allow students a much longer enrollment time so that they may study, train and integrate - marinate in - the material, as well as fit their study around other life commitments.

Jean is one of the top dog trainers in the world and has lectured extensively in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Before transitioning full-time to pet dog training, Jean competed in dog sports with dogs of various breeds, earning numerous titles and wins including OTCh, HIT, TDX, and FDCh, as well as a CGC. She ran a successful training school for fifteen years, and spent six years doing primarily referral aggression cases. She holds a degree in comparative psychology and is a keen student of evolutionary biology.

Jean is a four-time winner of The Dog Writers' Association of America's Maxwell Award, and her seminal book The Culture Clash was named number one training and behavior book by The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Her other titles are Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs, Fight! A Guide to Dog-Dog Aggression, Dogs Are From Neptune, and Oh Behave! Dogs From Pavlov to Premack to Pinker. Her latest book, Train Like a Pro, was her first written for a lay audience.

Academy Syllabus