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Program in progress- thanks for your interest, but closed for now


Dog Trainer Apprentice Program in Petoskey MI

starting July 2012 depending on student's schedules

(note: this is a part-time program; current full-timers can do this program and still keep your job)



Northwoods Dog Training LLC is expanding and offering an immersive apprenticeship program in northern Michigan. This program will give prospective trainers excellent exposure, education, and experience  in many aspects of dog (and people!) training, canine behavior and handling. Perfect for the person having a goal of becoming a dog trainer, assistant trainer,  or a related business in the pet care industry. Creativity is encouraged, so if you have an interest in pursuing agility, or teaching tricks, free-style or therapy dogs (to name a very few), this will give you an excellent foundation. I am also looking to hire stellar "graduates" to be able to offer more services to my clients.


This  apprenticeship with Patty Crichton will certainly not be boring; she LOVES to teach and has been called an engaging and inspiring speaker. The program involves group class and private lesson observation (in later levels), assisting and then actual instruction- by YOU! (when ready). It also involves a lot of reading and discussion as well as written and oral assignments not only in dog training/behavior, but in business procedures. And of course, there will be much actual hands-on training, especially in latter parts of the program. An added bonus will be guest speakers and field trips for an insider's look at various aspects of the industry-fun!


  • Have you dreamed of being a Dog Trainer using new gentle techniques?
  • Would you enjoy helping people train their dogs and creatively solve their dog's behavior problems?
  • Are you looking for a career to earn full or part-time income doing what you love?
  • Are you a dog-lover/owner who loves learning & wants more in-depth ongoing education using dog-friendly, force-free methods?



The good news: being a dog trainer can be an extremely fulfilling career when you feel confident in being able to address the many different types of problems and training challenges that dogs have. With your expert help, families can live in true harmony with their dog rather than put up with everything from puppy nipping to serious aggression. And now, you can learn to be a dog trainer or a more knowledgeable dog owner by apprenticing with a dog-friendly professional trainer right here in northern Michigan! No travel expenses.


The bad news: becoming a successful trainer takes years of experience at the school of hard knocks, and/or attendance at dog training schools. It also takes years to develop local professional relationships and word-of-mouth reputation. Dog training schools/academies:


  • Are expensive- $4,000 up to $12,000+ plus living and travel expenses. When I went to Dog Training School 10 years ago, I paid $5,000 PLUS drove cross-country and had travel and living expenses for 4 months, with obviously no income. If I had it to do over again, I’d select a mentor and apprentice with that person. If I had a lot of money and time, I would attend a GOOD dog training school and also mentor with someone.
  • Don’t (usually) include much hands-on experience (especially the home-study programs), which is CRITICAL. Learning theory only goes so far; you need to get your hands on a lot of dogs and get experience working with all kinds of people to be successful. At school I watched the teacher do things I would never do to a dog, and though I worked with a few shelter dogs, I didn't receive much guidance. Upon graduation, I paid a lot of money to spend just one week with a famous trainer, which was great, but the rest I learned by taking on free cases, attending seminars, much reading and watching videos. More expenses and no income.
  • Are far away; the only dog training school available here is a home study course.
  • Don't build relationships with local professionals


I am extremely fortunate that my business has grown beyond what I can handle and still maintain excellent customer service during years when many dog trainers across the country went out of business. I LOVE teaching and have set up a 3 Level Apprentice Program (approx. 1 year) for people who are sincerely interested and motivated to learn, with the possibility of qualified candidates being hired as paid or unpaid Trainer, Assistant Trainer, Dog Walker and/or Sitter for in-home boarding.


  • Close to home; no travel expenses
  • Learn the business from the ground up, without reinventing the wheel
  • Having lots of hands-on experience with both dogs and people
  • Low-cost, and you can still maintain your current job
  • Being able to watch someone else with a wide variety of cases (invaluable!)


Interested? Read on......


Level 1 Apprentice - approximately 16 weeks   150 hours starting June/July 2012

Min. time required: 2-3 hrs/week instruction and field trips/guest speakers; 3 hrs/week admin. and dog care; 2 hrs Group classes. Reading/study on your own time. Time TBD by group consensus, except for group classes. I want to make it work for you! Applications due by June 15; please contact me with questions.


  • 3 hours -Orientation and introduction to program
  • 48 hours Group Classes - Assist me with classes each week before and afterward. First, you'll observe a full 4 week class series, then bring a dog through as a student in both Puppy and Basic Class, then assist 2 classes, then (if ready) actually teach the class with supervision. Includes discussion post-class. Usually Sat. afternoons and/or Monday and Tuesday evenings.
  • 32 hours  (1 day per week/2 hours minimum)- Discussion and instruction: required books and DVDs (you'll love them!), class observations, learning clicker training and practicing with an assortment of dogs. A small sample of topics covered: clicker training, dog breeds, body language, how dogs learn, handling difficult people, business management, and why I do things the way I do. This section may be increased. Also included: a wide variety of guest speakers; this may be your favorite part! Day/time will be one that is mutually agreeable.
  • 8 hours - Monthly field trips: veterinarians, groomers, boarding facilities, humane societies
  • 8 hours - Independent study with presentation; topics to be assigned may include dog food & behavior, exploration of training tools, breed differences in training, public speaking, kids and dogs, agility, therapy dogs, etc.
  • 48 hours (12 hrs/month) administrative and dog care assistance, training boarding dogs; occasional weekend fundraisers
  • 2 hours - practical exam, combining oral presentation and training demonstration
  • 1 hour written exam

Cost: $200/month. Save $50: $750 if paid in full with registration. Payment plan: $400 with registration, and beginning of 3rd month.

" I'd love to audit your apprentice classes but time doesn't allow for that now.  I learn sooooo much from you and the dogs I raise." Julie H., Petoskey


deedee_graduates Northwoods_Dog_Training_Graduation





Level 2 Apprentice-more customized depending on interests and competency of student


  • Continuation of all of the above, with more emphasis on behavior cases:
  • 48 hours Group Classes- assisting and/or teaching according to experience and competence
  • 32 hours ( 1 day/week; 2 hours minimum) Discussion & instruction with more in-depth behavior study
  • 32 hours (1 day per week; 1 2-hour session minimum) Sit-in on my private sessions
  • 48 hours (3 hrs/week) administrative and dog care assistance
  • Training of boarding dogs and/or shelter dogs- as many hours as it takes
  • Independent Study topic for presentation
  • Practical and written exams

Date: Fall 2012


Level 3 - Mentoring TBA



  • Have excellent and friendly, service-oriented com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills with all types of people
  • Neat, clean professional appearance
  • Be healthy and physically fit enough to handle large strong dogs
  • Positive attitude! No complainers or whiners :<
  • High school graduate minimum. All ages welcome to apply.
  • Be com­fort­able around dogs of all sizes and breeds.
  • Trainable; has good timing and observation skills
  • Ability to remain calm in stressful situations ( you can fall apart later!)
  • Previous dog training experience preferred
  • Willingness to rec­og­nize and quickly handle poten­tially dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions between dogs and people.
  • Computer-saavy with email, WORD, Google Calendar
  • COMMITTED and dependable! Please do not waste your/my time if you are not responsible and committed to at least 1 Level of the Program and showing up every week.
  • Bonus points for: Previous training experience, Video-making and editing, website management, shelter experience, writing abilities

To apply, click here for application and email to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with "Apprentice Application" as Subject.


I look forward to sharing a wonderful experience with you!