So You Want a Career in Dog Training

If you have a thing for dogs and are able to work with folks with dogs, a career in dog training can be a delightful, rewarding and tremendously enjoyable profession for you.

However, to begin a career in dog training, general skills such as good communications and social relations are essentials as most of your time will be spent educating the owner how to train his/her dogs.

The key to a successful career in dog training is to be “competent.” If your dog training experience and skills, like millions of other dog owners, are picked up from books, then you might be ineffective in preparation, correcting and solving some dog behavior problems. Not only will your clients be complaining and unsatisfied with your service, your reputation will be ruined within the neighborhood where you base your dog training business.

However, if you are passionately committed to make handling with dogs a career, then you will need to become a capable, knowledgeable and proficient dog trainer who understands different canine behavior and how to train to breed with the right techniques.

A career in dog training can begin in two ways:


Professional dog training schools are a good way to start with as they offer a step-by-step set of courses planned to coach the students in the shortest amount of time the skills needed to become a professional dog trainer.

Check with your local pet stores or veterinary hospitals for reference and recommendations.

The fees usually start from $3,000 up to $18,000 for a credible training program.


If you want something inexpensive, you can start out as an apprentice by volunteering with the local dog shelters, rescue groups or guide dogs training centers.

However, your course and experience will be dictated by the center where you volunteered. In certain centers, your apprenticeship training will be subjected to the variety of dogs coming in. In others, you might be given a dog to guide and train with till it pass out as a certified guide or service dog.

The only big drawback for all apprenticeship programs is that you must prepare to work long hours, performing routine or physical tasks before you will get an opportunity to work with dogs.

If apprenticeship fits you, be ready to spend a minimum average of 3 years with the center before you will qualify as a professional dog trainer or instructor.

A Word of Advice: Avoid mail or internet courses that claim that you can become a skilled dog trainer.

While inexpensive, you will never be an effective or credible dog trainer. These correspondence courses at most can only offer you basic information on a career in dog training and elementary levels of dog trainer skills. Just imagine who would be there to supervise or correct you when you make a mistake.


There are many dog training programs and usual subjects cover solving basic dog behavioral problems and obedience training.

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

  • the history and background of every dog breed,
  • how to communicate effectively with different breeds,
  • how to treat more complex behavioral problems such as phobias and aggression,
  • elementary to advanced dog tricks and commands,
  • how to prepare and train dogs for different competitions, as well as,
  • correct dog hygiene, nutrition and grooming so that you can counsel and present training advice to your clients to bring up healthy, well groomed and well behaved dogs.


You can begin your career in dog training handling dogs full or part time. An average working week is about 30 - 35 hours and that includes evenings, weekends and holidays. As a start, you can look forward to earn $50 per lesson and gradually to $200 per session once you become more experienced. Full time dog trainers can earn between $30,000 to $100,000 annually.

To get ahead financially as a dog trainer, you will have to start establishing a client base who will recommend your service to their friends. Visit your local vets, groomers, pet sitters and pet stores by asking them to refer clients to you. Most of the successful dog trainers build on their business from referrals of satisfied customers.

Thus, if you genuinely love dogs and cherish helping people in general, then having a enriching and fulfilling career in dog training might just be a great profession choice for you in life.

Lee Tuan James is a proud member of the Dog Training Classroom team ( For more information on starting a career in dog training, visit:

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