How To Be A Dog Trainer – Teach Dogs For A Living!

How To Be A Dog Trainer
Photo by Santiago Esquivel,

I love talking about different ways to be self-employed from home. There are hundreds of options to choose from but to be truly HAPPY in your work, it helps to do something you love! So if you love dogs, you may want to consider a career in dog training.

But before you get too excited, make sure you have a clear understanding of just how much work and patience it takes. If you’ve trained your own dog, you probably already have a sense of just how hard it can be.

And realize you’re not just working with dogs…you’re working equally (if not more) with their owners so having good communication skills is key!

Just How Much Does A Dog Trainer Make?

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) estimates that the salary range of animal trainers (dog obedience as well) is between $33,600 – $57,170. Of course the range above is simply the median – some are making more than this, others far less.
So based on these statistics, it shows that it IS possible to make a living training dogs! Many professional dog trainers are self employed and there is no official “degree” needed to get started (details on this below).

Where To Start?

To get started in this business you will need to have experience training dogs (or at least your own dog). It just makes sense – in order to train others on how to train their dogs, you’ll need to learn how to train your own dog first.

So if you don’t own a dog, now would be a great time to adopt one! There are a plethora of options out there to find your next “best friend.” I highly recommend your local animal shelter…but I’m biased because I got my dog there and he’s been a gem!

Learn to Train A Dog
Photo by Mitchell Orr,

You can also just google search a few different breeds you’re interested in and talk to a few local breeders in your area to see what breed best suits you.

Do Your Homework – There are a lot of dog training programs and philosophies out there! So familiarize yourself with a variety of approaches and decide on which one(s) you’ll want to employ when training dogs for others.

Thankfully, the vast majority of approaches available today incorporate positive reinforcement vs punishment based training.

If you’re wanting more information on dog training philosophies, see the WebMd site.

Find A Trainer To Teach You

As stated earlier, there is no formal education needed to start a dog training business. However, it’s important to get certified from a professional dog trainer. In order to get certified, you need prior dog training experience.

Training can be acquired by volunteering with other Dog trainers at local shelters, visit local dog training classes, do a google search for local dog trainers and see if they are amenable to you shadowing a class or session.  Or call all the local dog shelters in your area to see what’s available.

How To Receive Your Certification

You can acquire your certification as a dog trainer without doing any coursework. Check with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) for more details.

Again – be aware that you DO need to have prior training experience before you can receive your certification. Also, the CCPDT charges around $400 for certification. (Wikihow) 

The following resources have all the necessary information/links to get certified:

Association Of Professional Dog Trainers

Certification For Professional Dog Trainers

 Where To Work Once You’re Ready

Once you’ve learned to train your dog and received the necessary training for the dog training craft, you should be ready to start training other dogs!

How you want to start is completely up to you. Some of you may want to just jump in and start your own dog training business. But others may want to slow down a bit and learn a bit more from the dog training pros before going it alone.

Learn To Be A Dog Trainer
Photo by Tim Golder,

If you fall in the latter category, it will be beneficial for you to start by shadowing another local trainer or observing them animal shelters.

This will expose you to many different types of dog breeds (and their owners!) and still have the support from an experienced trainer. By starting with other trainers, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you start your own business!

How To Start Your Own Dog Training Business?

If you are ready to take the plunge and get your own dog training business going, you’ll have to start marketing your new business. Below are a few ways to get going:

  • Call your local Animal Shelter  – see if they need a trainer or, at a minimum, if they will allow you to put your business card or flyer there.
  • Tell All Your Friends And Family – get the word out! Start with those closest to you. They’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends, who will tell…ok I think you get the point.
  • Call Your Local Recreation Department or Community Center to see if they will let you set up a class there. Just have a good idea of how much you’ll want to charge ahead of time.
  • Call other Trainers to see if they would like to pair with you.
  • Build a Website – This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. In fact there are resources that provide free or cheap hosting, along with ready-made site templates!

SiteRubix is an outstanding source for setting up a FREE website and also has top notch tech support. It also offers resources for setting up your business.

I write more about setting up your own business all through this site. Check it out for additional tips and information related to starting your own business, whatever it may be!

Be A Dog Trainer
Photo by Nicolas Tessari,

Dog Training Books/Online Dog Training 

I hope you’ve found a few of the tips here helpful! There are so many different ways to train a dog, it can make your head spin. Through your research, you will likely already have a good idea of what you’re most comfortable with. But I’ll add a few links to include a few recommended book and online resources.


There are dozens of great Dog trainer books on Amazon.

The book “So You Want To Be A Dog Trainer (Second Edition)” by Nicole Wilde is the one recommended by the CCPDT and has great reviews.


“The Online Dog Trainer” is an excellent online resource and has been around a long time. All the training and tools needed to get started are included in this comprehensive package. This is my #1 recommended online dog trainer program in that it is so all inclusive and has dozens of positive reviews. Check it out!

Animal Behavior College – another great online training program.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have experience or interest in being a dog trainer? Please share your thoughts below – It’d be great to hear from you. Good luck in your dog training adventures!

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2 thoughts on “How To Be A Dog Trainer – Teach Dogs For A Living!

  1. We adopted our dog years ago, and she has been great. I love dogs and have always been good at training my own. I have never thought about doing it for a living. I know that not all breeds are the same. So, which breed would you say is the easiest and which is the hardest to train?

    1. Hi Gary, that’s a good question. I’ve had good experiences training pound dogs which have been mixed breeds. I think so much of it depends on the individual dog’s temuperament, and this can vary within each breed as well. I’m glad you found a good one! Regardless of how hard they can be to train, they’re amazing pets that become like family members over time. Best of luck to you Gary!

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