Imagine having a calm and obedient dog. He doesn't yelp at every little noise or bite you forcefully because he "thinks" you're playing with him. He's also friendly, but respectful and can basically understand what he needs to do each day. Oh, the sheer bliss of it all! Now imagine that you were able to bestow this excellent behavior upon your beloved pet and those of countless others each day. That's what Tyson Kilmer does. For a living. For celebrities.
Tyson, 37, has had a love for animals ever since the day he was born. It's no wonder he has immersed himself in an animal career. Growing up on a farm, this celebrity dog trainer learned how to speak to the animals and has helped them understand their place in the home. "Essentially, you're taking an animal from its natural habitat and putting it into our world," says Tyson. "We are responsible to teach it to survive and provide it with the tools to keep them happy in life."
Tyson started out modeling before he immersed himself in his animal career as a dog trainer. "The fashion biz approached me as a young kid and I kind of got sidetracked," he says. "But I always knew I'd get back to working with animals and that it would never leave me." His longing for an animal career ultimately got the best of him and he realized, at the age of 25, fashion consumed a lot of time and traveling would take away from his devotion to his animals. And so he officially started his career as a dog trainer.
An animal career does not necessarily require a degree, as Tyson has no formal training. But it is something that is available and helpful to anyone thinking about an animal career. Bachelor's degrees and certification programs that are specialized for animal trainers would prove helpful in giving you the experience required to become a successful dog trainer. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the animal care profession held about 172,000 jobs in 2004 and three out of five animal trainers were self-employed. In May 2004, the median hourly wage for animal trainers was $ 10.60.
Tyson's first celebrity dog, as he remembers it, belonged to SHERYL CROW. The celebrity part comes into play since Tyson lives in the Hollywood area. His fashion career also helped him boost his ability to network and make a name for himself. Tyson's business, as he says, "sells itself." Since celebrities are more vulnerable in being sued, "they look to me for help to gain control."
Though Tyson has been able to be the dog trainer to such a large celebrity base, including MIKE TYSON, JONI MITCHELL, and AARON CARTER, he enjoys helping anyone he can and his successes are extremely rewarding. "When I first meet people, they can't see their way out of the problems they are having [with their dog] but by they end they attain freedom that they never dreamed of," Tyson says, with great joy. "That's why I do it and enjoy working with each person."
As for the duration of the process, Tyson stresses, "training is a continuum." With "The Tyson Method," he uses a few phases to teach basic commands and says that most dogs train with him for at least a year. Not only is he a dog trainer, but Tyson is a dog owner himself and has trained his French mastiff and American pit bull terrier to walk, sans leash, through Beverly Hills and even in Gucci!
So what do you need to successfully work as a dog trainer? Of course you should possess patience and a deep love for animals. But, in addition, "this is a career for people that are passionate about effecting change," he says. Specifically, he continues, it is for those who can contribute solutions to the frustrations of owners who don't know how to do it right.
You, too, can teach a dog proper behavior. So look into an animal career, perhaps as a dog trainer, today and get started on teaching dogs to walk calmly through Gucci, too. Well, maybe not Gucci, but you get the idea.