Are you considering a career in professional dog training? This particular job is remarkably rewarding – but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of working as a dog trainer before making a decision!
In this article, we’ll break down the benefits of working as a dog trainer and discuss some of the most common questions people have about this profession. We’ll also take a look at some of the challenges that you may also face in this industry.
By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a clear understanding of what to expect. This way, you’ll be able to confidently decide once and for all if dog training is the perfect career for YOU!
What Is a Dog Trainer?
A dog trainer is somebody who helps to teach dogs the basics of obedience and good behavior. This usually involves working with different types of breeds, depending on the needs of the client. The most common commands that dog trainers teach include “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “down”.
Dog trainers typically work in one-on-one sessions or small groups, teaching puppies and adult dogs how to respond appropriately to various commands. Moreover, they also work on socialization skills; helping dogs become more comfortable around people and other animals.
There are many different dog training methods. But regardless of which approach you take, your ultimate goal as a trainer is always going to be the same: to help your furry clients lead happy, well-adjusted lives!
The Dog Trainer Salary
Firstly, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when asking, “How much will I make as a dog trainer?” Your salary will depend on a variety of factors, such as your location, experience level, the type of training you’re providing, and whether you’re running your own business or working for somebody else.
Dog Trainer Annual Salary Ranges by Country
That said, we can give you an idea of how much you can potentially earn. The following are the annual salary ranges for professional dog trainers, based on the example countries listed below:
- United States: Between approx. $21,600 USD and $46,600 USD per year (Source: CareerExplorer)
- Canada: Between approx. $33,000 CAD and $72,000 CAD per year (Source: Glassdoor)
- United Kingdom: Between approx. £19,000 GBP and £46,000 GBP per year (Source: Payscale)
- New Zealand: Between approx. $40,000 NZD and $53,000 NZD per year (Source: SalaryExpert)
- Australia: Between approx. $40,000 AUD and $64,000 AUD per year (Source: SalaryExpert)
Top Factors That Can Impact Your Income
The cost of living varies from place to place. This means that you’ll need to earn more money in order to maintain the same standard of living in a city than you would in a small town, for example.
Furthermore, where you live can affect how many clients there will be in need of your services. For instance, there will likely be a larger customer pool in a big city than there will be in a tiny, rural community.
On the other hand, residing in a small town can also work to your advantage if you play your cards right. If, for example, dog training services aren’t already provided where you live, you could curb the market and become the go-to dog trainer for those in your area!
Just like with any other profession, your salary as a dog trainer will increase as you gain more experience. The longer you’ve been working in the industry, the more valuable your services will be.
That being said, it’s important to note that dog trainers with years of experience don’t necessarily make the most money. The type of training you provide and the clients you work with can also play a big role in how much money you’ll earn.
For example, a dog trainer who specializes in obedience training for family pets will likely earn a very different salary than a dog trainer who works with law enforcement agencies to train police dogs. The latter type of trainer typically receives much more money per client, as their services are in high demand!
Type of Dog Training
As we just mentioned, the type of dog training you provide can have a big impact on how much money you’ll earn. The more specialized your services are, the higher your rate will be.
Obedience training is one of the most common types of dog training, as it’s something that all dog owners can benefit from. But there are other types of training that you could specialize in, such as:
- Agility training
- Service dog training
- Therapy dog training
- Hunting dog training
- Police/military dog training
Each of these niches requires a different skill set, and therefore commands a different rate. The more in demand your services are, the higher you’ll be able to charge!
No matter what type of dog training you specialize in, it’s important to remember that there will always be competition. After all, the dog training industry is quite saturated. So, you’ll need to find ways to set yourself apart from other trainers in your area.
One way to do this is by becoming reputably certified. This will show potential clients that you’re a qualified, professional dog trainer who is serious about your craft. We’ll talk more about this in a moment!
Another way to stand out from the competition is by offering unique services that they don’t. For example, if you live in an area with a lot of senior citizens, you could specialize in training therapy dogs to help them cope with loneliness or anxiety.
By offering services that other dog trainers in your area don’t, you’ll be able to attract more clients and command a higher rate!
Do You Need Certification To Be a Dog Trainer?
The short answer is, no. Technically, there’s no legal requirement for dog trainers to have any sort of certification in order to work. However, this can be very misleading, as it can give people the impression that they therefore don’t need to get certified…
But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Certification for professional dog trainers is incredibly important. In fact, many clients will only consider working with trainers who have some sort of professional designation. This makes sense, since they want to ensure that their dog is being trained by someone who knows what they’re doing!
How To Become a Certified Dog Trainer
There are a few different organizations that offer certification for dog trainers, such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. The process for becoming certified will vary, depending on which organization you go through, but it typically involves passing an exam and completing a certain amount of continuing education credits.
It’s also important to note that certification is not a one-time thing. Rather, you’ll need to renew your certification every few years in order to maintain it.
Another route worth considering – and one we highly recommend – is to complete an accredited dog training course from a reputable school. These days, such training programs can be taken either online or in-person. So, you have plenty of options at your disposal!
Let’s take a look at one dog training course in particular, offered by QC Pet Studies…
QC Pet Studies’ Dog Training Course
QC Pet Studies is a faculty of QC Career School – a pioneer of distance learning since 1984. Currently, QC Pet Studies offers a certification course in dog grooming, as well as a certification course in dog training. Additionally, we offer a First Aid for Groomers Course that comes free of charge with the Dog Grooming Course.
All of our training programs are 100% self-paced and online. Starting from the date you enroll, you’ll have 2 full years to complete your course. However, YOU get to decide how much (or how little) of that time you actually need. This means that, from the comfort of your own home, you can graduate as quickly as you want!
Moreover, our tuition is extremely competitive and affordable! You have 2 ways you can pay, depending on what works best for your budget. First, you have the option to pay the full amount at the time of enrollment – which will get you a sweet discount. Alternately, you can pay a small deposit when you enroll, followed by low monthly payments until your balance is paid off.
The choice is yours!
In terms of our 4-part Dog Training Course, here’s what you can expect to learn:
- The guiding principles of dog training
- Fundamentals of safe training
- The stages of development
- Socialization stages
- Canine communication
- Calming signals
- Fear responses
- Various training methods (luring, shaping, targeting, modelling, capturing, and mimicry)
- Motivations for dogs
- Reinforcement schedules
- Training tools
- How to successfully address unwanted behaviors
- Learning theory and how to apply it
- How to work as a trainer (e.g., facilitating learning for clients, teaching private lessons vs. group classes, etc.)
- Teaching skills (e.g., strategies for teaching people, communicating with dog owners, preparing yourself for working with clients, etc.)
- Business training (e.g., how to get your business started, choosing a name for your business, business insurance requirements and recommendations, creating a business plan, marketing techniques, and selling your services)
QC Pet Studies Dog Training Certification
Graduates of this program will walk away with an International Dog Training Professional™ (IDTP™) certification + designation that can be proudly added to your resume!
BONUS: Included Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) Prep
Easily, one of the coolest things about QC’s Dog Training Course is that – on top of everything you’ll learn, and on top of the internationally-recognized certification you’ll get once you graduate – you’ll also get to prepare for the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), should you wish to take it afterwards.
The CPDT is the gold-standard for dog trainers who have the knowledge and skills to train dogs using scientifically-proven methods. QC’s Dog Training Course teaches you everything you need to know to pass this exam! And what’s more – you’ll have access to an extra optional unit that’ll help prepare you to write the CPDT exam!
This optional unit includes:
- Info about the Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT) Exam!
- Useful tips and advice to help you prepare for your exam!
- A practice quiz you can take to help make sure you’re ready!
Interested in enrolling in QC Pet Studies’ online Dog Training Course? Learn EVERYTHING you need to know about it (and get started) here!
Dog Training Apprenticeship
If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and enroll in QC’s Dog Training Course just yet, that’s okay! We understand that it’s a big decision.
In this case, you might be wondering: how can I test the waters and see if this is something I’d like to do before committing to a certification course?
The answer is simple: become a dog training apprentice!
An apprenticeship typically involves a combination of on-the-job training and in-class learning. Certain types of training – such as guide dog training, K9 training, etc. – offer courses that include apprenticeships as part of their curriculum. That said, there may be some professional dog trainers willing to take on/teach an apprentice. In these cases, your learning will be predominantly acquired through real-world experience.
Either way, as an apprentice, you’ll get to:
- Work one-on-one with a professional dog trainer!
- Get first-hand experience in the field!
- Earn while you learn (yes, apprentices are paid)!
- Gain confidence and build your skills!
Not sure where to start? Google is your best friend! Try searching for dog training apprenticeships in your area and see what comes up!
Common Job Duties as a Dog Trainer
As we know by now, as a dog trainer, you’ll be responsible for helping clients train their dogs. This may involve teaching obedience commands (e.g., sit, stay, come), addressing problem behaviors (e.g., barking, chewing, digging), or even preparing the dog for competition events (e.g., agility trials, flyball).
Obedience training is usually done in group classes or private sessions, while behavior modification is often done in private sessions. You may also be asked to do demonstration shows or seminars to promote your business. As a self-employed trainer, you’ll also be responsible for marketing your services and keeping your clientele base growing.
In terms of work hours, you can expect to work evenings and weekends since that’s when most classes and sessions are scheduled. Furthermore, you may also need to do some traveling if you’re teaching classes in multiple locations or giving seminars outside of your local area.
What Is a Typical Day in The Life of a Dog Trainer Like?
A typical day in the life of a dog trainer may vary, depending on what type of training you’re doing and where you’re doing it. However, there are some commonalities among most trainers’ schedules!
For example, many trainers start their days by traveling to their first client’s house, or to the location where their group class is being held. Once they arrive, they’ll set up any equipment they need and get started with the session. Depending on the length of the session, they may have time for a quick break in between or go straight from one to the next.
After their last session of the day is over, they’ll pack up their equipment and head home. Once they’re home, they’ll take care of any administrative work that needs to be done. This can include scheduling future classes, updating client records, advertising/marketing their business, and preparing for upcoming sessions.
Career Paths for a Dog Trainer
There are many different career paths you can take as a dog trainer. You can choose to work in a variety of settings, such as private homes, kennels, shelters, obedience schools, or pet stores. You may also decide to specialize in a certain type of training, such as obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or herding.
Another option is to become a certified behavior consultant. This is a more advanced field that requires additional education and experience. Behavior consultants work with dogs who have serious behavioral problems, and often help design behavior modification programs for them.
Whatever path you decide to take, there are always opportunities for advancement! For example, you could eventually become a head trainer at a facility or start your own training business. The sky’s the limit!
The most important thing to remember is that you should do what you’re passionate about. If you love dogs and enjoy working with them, then a career in dog training will be PERFECT for you!
Want to start your very own dog training business? These 6 steps will break down everything you need to know to get started from scratch!
The Pros and Cons of Working as a Dog Trainer
Alright, it’s time to get to the good stuff! Here, we’ll go over some of the pros and cons of working as a dog trainer. Let’s start with the pros first, shall we?
20 Benefits of Working as a Dog Trainer
1 – You get to be around dogs every day!
One of the best things about being a dog trainer is that you get to work with dogs on a daily basis! If you’re passionate about dogs, then this is definitely the career for you. After all, who wouldn’t love getting paid to play with puppies all day?
2 – You get to make a difference!
As a dog trainer, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of your clients and their dogs. You get to help people form lasting bonds with their furry companions and teach them how to best take care of them. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling!
3 – You get to stay active!
Another great benefit of working as a dog trainer is that it’s a very physical job. You’ll be on your feet for most of the day, and you’ll get to do a lot of walking/running while you’re working. Thus, this is perfect for people who want to stay active and fit!
4 – You get to see the progress in real time!
One of the best things about being a dog trainer is seeing the progress your clients make in real time. It’s so rewarding to watch a dog learn new tricks and commands. Plus, you get to witness the bond between them and their owner grow stronger!
5 – You get to make a great income!
As we saw earlier, dog trainers can make quite the income! Of course, how much you ultimately make will, in large part, depend on the effort you’re willing to put in. But if you’re determined to work hard, the profit you’ll see can be limitless!
6 – You get to have options!
Whether you wish to get hired by an existing company or start a business of your own, there are plenty of job opportunities available to dog trainers. The world is your oyster!
7 – You get lots of flexibility!
If you do choose to start your own dog training business, one obvious perk is that you’ll get to call the shots. For instance, you can set your own hours. This is perfect for those who don’t want to work traditional 9-to-5 jobs. You also have the option of working part-time or full-time, depending on your availability and preference.
8 – You get lots of ways to niche down!
As we saw earlier, there are many different types of dog training. This gives you the opportunity to niche down and specialize in the area that interests you most. If you have a particular passion, this can be a great way to turn it into a successful career!
9 – Alternately, you get to specialize in a variety of dog training skills!
On the other hand, you also have the option of becoming a generalist and offering a variety of dog training services. This route is perfect for those who enjoy variety and don’t want to be pigeon-holed into one particular area. The sky’s the limit!
10 – You get to work in a high-demand industry!
As we noted earlier, the demand for dog trainers is growing rapidly. This means that there will always be a need for your services! If you’re looking for a stable and in-demand career, this is definitely it.
11 – You get to work in a low-stress industry!
In addition to being high-demand, dog training is also relatively low-stress. Of course, every job has its stressful moments. But overall, this is a pretty laid-back industry. So if you’re looking for an easygoing career, this could be it!
12 – You get to become a part of a great community!
The dog training industry is full of passionate and friendly people. As such, you’ll get to meet lots of great people and make some lifelong friends!
13 – You get to travel!
If you choose to, you can also take your dog training business on the road and travel to different cities or even countries! This is a great way to see the world and get paid for it.
14 – You get a healthy work-life balance!
Typically speaking, dog trainers tend to have a pretty healthy work-life balance. This is because you can typically set your own hours and work as little or as much as you want. So, if you’re looking for a career that won’t consume your entire life, this is definitely it!
15 – You get the opportunity to work outdoors!
Another great thing about being a dog trainer is that you often get to work outdoors. If you love being in nature, this is the perfect job for you!
16 – You get to meet lots of different kinds of people!
As a dog trainer, you’ll get to meet all sorts of different people from all walks of life. This is a great way to expand your social circle and learn about different cultures!
17 – You get tons of room for personal and professional growth!
Dog training is also a great career choice because it offers tons of room for personal and professional growth. There are always new things to learn and new ways to improve your skills. As such, if you’re looking for a career that will challenge you and help you grow as a person, this is definitely it!
18 – You get the option to work virtually, as well as in-person!
Another great thing about being a dog trainer is that you can choose to conduct your dog training services virtually (i.e., via video chat, through pre-recorded instructional videos, etc.), as well as in-person. This is perfect for those who want the flexibility to work from home – or anywhere in the world!
19 – You get to have a career that’s genuinely fun!
To put it simply, being a dog trainer is just plain fun! If you’re passionate about dogs and enjoy working with people, this is the perfect job for you. You’ll get to spend your days doing something you love… And what could be better than that?
20 – You get the chance to pair/offer complementary services!
Want to offer dog grooming services in addition to your training services? What about dog walking services, or pet boarding?
You CAN! The great thing about being a dog trainer is that you can choose to offer any number of complementary services. And, of course, the more services your business offers, the more clients you’ll attract – which means a better bottom line for you!
What Are The Disadvantages of Being a Dog Trainer?
Now that we’ve looked at some of the advantages of being a dog trainer, let’s take a look at some of the potential disadvantages. Keep in mind, though, that these are only potential disadvantages – they may not actually be relevant to your particular situation!
1 – The hours can sometimes be long and/or irregular.
One of the potential disadvantages of being a dog trainer is that the hours can sometimes be long and/or irregular. This is particularly true if you’re self-employed, as you’ll need to be available to work when your clients are available – and this may not always be during mornings or afternoons on weekdays.
As a result, if you have a family or other commitments outside of work, this can sometimes make it tricky to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
However, it IS possible to overcome this obstacle by being proactive and scheduling your work hours in advance. This way, you can still make time for the things that are important to you!
2 – Finding new clients can be a challenge.
Another potential disadvantage of being a dog trainer is that it can be challenging to find new clients. This is because there is a lot of competition in this field, thus making it tough to stand out from the crowd.
That being said, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of attracting customers. For example, you can offer free consultations or promotional discounts for new clients. You can also make sure to market your business effectively – both online and offline.
And, of course, providing high-quality services is always the best way to encourage clients to come back – and to recommend your business to their friends!
PRO TIP: Need help finding clients as a dog trainer? This handy guide reveals 25 effective ways to attract (and keep) customers for your business – so, make sure to give it a read!
3 – Some clients may have trouble understanding what you’re trying to teach them.
It’s important to know that some clients may experience difficulty understanding what you’re trying to teach them. After all, not everyone is a ‘dog person’ – and some people just don’t have the patience or ability to train their dog effectively.
If you do come across a client like this, it’s important to be patient and to try to explain things in a way that they’ll understand. Remember, you’re the expert! So, it’s up to YOU to make the training process as easy and enjoyable as possible for them!
4 – You might have to deal with the odd scratch or bite.
Although you shouldn’t necessarily worry about this, keep in the back of your mind that working with animals does pose certain safety risks. After all, you’ll be dealing with living, breathing creatures – and they can sometimes be unpredictable! And of course, some of the dogs you encounter might be anxious, defiant, or even aggressive.
Of course, this is why it’s so important to be properly trained and understand canine behavior before you start working as a dog trainer. You’ll need to know how to safely handle dogs of all shapes and sizes – and how to diffuse any potential situations that might arise.
Additionally, you should always make sure that you have the proper insurance coverage in place – just in case something does happen.
All in all, though, as long as you use common sense and take the necessary precautions, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a long and successful career as a dog trainer – without injury!
5 – Not every dog owner you work with will be pleasant, either.
Just as you might come across the occasional ‘difficult’ pooch, you may also have to deal with the odd unpleasant dog owner. After all, not everyone is going to be easy to work with – no matter how much they love their dog!
However, it’s important to remember that it’s not personal. As long as you keep your professional demeanor, and always remain the bigger person, you should be able to properly handle any situation that comes your way.
6 – Trying to teach multiple dogs at once can potentially be overwhelming.
If you’re working with multiple dogs at the same time, it’s important to remember that each one is an individual – and they’ll all learn at different speeds. As such, you might have to adjust your teaching methods accordingly.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that some dogs just don’t do well in group settings. If this is the case, you might have to work with them individually – or find a different training method altogether.
Of course, it can be tough to keep track of everything when you’re working with multiple dogs at once. That said, as long as you stay organized and develop a good system, you should be able to manage just fine!
7 – You may witness animal abuse.
Unfortunately, not all dog owners are kind and loving towards their pets. In fact, some can be downright abusive. If you witness animal abuse, it’s important to report it immediately. The longer you wait, the more time the abuser has to hurt – or even kill – the animal in question.
No one deserves to be treated that way – least of all innocent animals who can’t defend themselves!
So, if you see something, say something. It could save a life!
8 – If you run your own business, you may need a second job at first.
If you’re self-employed, it’s important to remember that it might take a while to build up a steady clientele. As such, you might need to supplement your income with another job – at least in the beginning.
Of course, we totally get that this isn’t ideal. However, it’s often necessary in order to make ends meet. However, you can be reassured that once your business starts taking off, you’ll be able to transition into working full-time as a dog trainer!
9 – If you don’t know what you’re doing, it could lead to a potential lawsuit.
This is why it’s so important to be properly trained and understand canine behavior before you start working as a dog trainer. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could potentially injure a dog… or worse. This could then lead to a lawsuit – which is something no one wants to deal with!
10 – May not be the best career choice if you’re allergic to animal dander.
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that dog trainers are often exposed to animal dander. So, if you’re allergic to dogs (or any other animals, for that matter), this might not be the best career choice for you.
Of course, there are ways to work around this – such as wearing a mask or taking allergy medication. However, it’s something to keep in mind before you make the decision to become a dog trainer!
So, Should YOU Become a Dog Trainer?
Now that you know the pros and cons of working as a dog trainer, you might be wondering if it’s the right career choice for you.
Only you can answer that question! However, we hope that this article has given you a better understanding of what to expect from this profession.
If you’re still on the fence, we suggest doing some more research – or even shadowing a dog trainer in your area. This will give you a first-hand look at what the job is really like – and help you make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you!
The bottom line is this: there are both pros and cons to working as a dog trainer. It’s important to understand both before making a decision about whether or not to pursue this career.
So, do YOU think you might want to become a dog trainer? Have questions that weren’t answered in this article? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
And, as always, thanks for reading! 🙂