So You Want A Career In Dog Training

For some people in general, having a career in dog training is a lifelong passion and dream come true. For others, it can be a terrific and enriching part-time job.

If you have an affinity for dogs and are able to work with people with dogs, then a career in dog training would be a fun, rewarding and tremendously satisfying profession for you. Good communication and people skills are essentials as most of your time will be spent teaching the owner how to train his/her dog.

However, starting out a career in dog training needs serious considerations as you will need to examine your motives, put in a lot of time and effort to become a successful dog trainer.

The key to a successful career in dog training is to be a "professional." If your canine training knowledge and skills, like millions of other dog owners, are picked up from books, then you might be unsuccessful in training, correcting and solving certain dog behavior problems. Not only will your clients be unhappy and dissatisfied with your service, your entire reputation will go down the drain within the neighborhood where you set up your canine training business.

However, if you are truly passionate about dogs and committed to make handling dogs a career, then you will need to become a well-qualified, knowledgeable and skillful dog trainer who understands canine behavior, knows the appropriate techniques and how to train to breed.

A career in dog training can begin in two ways:


Professional dog training schools are recommended as they offer a focused set of courses designed to drill the students in the shortest amount of time what you will need to know how to become a professional dog trainer.

To get started, first check with your local pet stores or veterinary hospitals for reference and recommendations, followed by checking those recommended dog training schools to acquire more information about the programs and course fees.

There are usually three common types of training program that most trainers offer: group classes, one to one in-home training and in-kennel training.

*Important* -- You should be proactive and ask some of the graduates or instructors the following questions while you are at the schools:

  • Are the course instructors certified professional dog trainers themselves? (You wouldn't want an inexperience dog trainer teaching you or giving limited information on dog behavior issues.)
  • What kind of training methods is use in the program and can you view one of the training sessions? (This is important as there are many complaints of rough training methods and abusive physical corrections despite promotional claims of positive and humane training techniques.)
  • Does the school offer any extra incentives such as job placement program after the course? (Ideally, this can help you out with real life hands-on experience and some good advice in the business aspect of a dog trainer.)
  • Cost of the different types training programs. (It's a good idea to check as the cost of a good training program can start from $3,000 all the way up to $18,000.)


If you are low on budget, you can opt to train as an apprentice by volunteering with the local dog shelters or rescue groups. Alternatively, you can also try out with your local service or guide dogs training centers which usually offer apprenticeship programs for anyone interested in becoming instructors for the school.

One big drawback for the apprenticeship programs is that you will need to prepare to work very hard, coupled with long hours performing menial or physical tasks before you will get an opportunity to work with dogs.

Your curriculum will also be dictated by the school where you volunteered or have being hired. In some schools, your apprenticeship training will be exposed to the variety of dogs coming in, with you training the dogs in basic obedience and behavior, watched by another instructor or mentor for evaluation. In others, you might be given a dog to train and work with till it passed out as a certified guide or service dog.

If this option suits you, be prepared to spend a minimum average of 3 years under apprenticeship before you will graduate as a professional guide dog trainer or license instructor.

A Word of Caution: You would do well to avoid any correspondence courses that claim that you can become a professional dog trainer through the mail or internet if you want to justify a professional career in dog training.

While inexpensive, a trainee of these types of course will never be able graduate to become a good dog trainer. Just imagine who would be there to supervise or correct the trainee when he/she makes a mistake.

These correspondence courses at most can only offer you basic information on a career in dog training and basic levels of dog trainer skills. You probably will learn as much from reading books on dog training.


There are many dog training programs and usually the elementary subjects cover basic dog behavioral problems solving and obedience training.

Aside from the basics, to become a professional and successful trainer, you will also need to know:

  • the background and history of every dog breed,
  • how to read dog body language and communicate effectively with different breeds,
  • how to treat more complex problems such as phobias and aggression,
  • basic to advanced dog tricks and commands,
  • how to prepare and train dogs for different competitions, as well as,
  • proper canine hygiene, nutrition and grooming so that you can counsel and offer treatment advice to your clients to bring up healthy, well groomed and well behaved dogs.


You can start your professional career in dog training working full or part time. A full time working week can average 30 - 35 hours per week and it can also include evenings, weekends and holidays. As a professional dog trainer, you can look forward to earn at least $20 per hour or $50 per lesson and gradually to $200 per session. Most full time dog trainers earn between $30,000 to $100,000 annually depending on experience and reputation.

To succeed financially as a dog trainer, you will need to have a establish client base who will recommend your service to their friends. You can also try to establish good relations with your local vets, groomers, pet sitters and pet stores by asking them to refer new clients to you. Most of the successful dog trainers get a lot of their business from referrals of delighted and satisfied customers too.

Therefore, if you truly love dogs and love helping people, then having a rewarding and fulfilling career in dog training might be just what you need in life.

Recommended Reading Resource:

So You Want To Become A Dog Trainer

become a dog trainer

An amazingly practical book for those who aspire to become a dog trainer. The book offers lots of great information, reference plus the nuts and bolts of becoming a trainer - to ways of running and building your own dog training business.

Down to earth... easy to follow... logical... humorous...

The Dog Trainer Handbook

A must read for anyone looking to become a professional dog trainer!

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