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How to Become a Dog Trainer? [What You Need 2023]

Do you want to know how to become a dog trainer? You have landed on the right page. Here, you will find all you need to know to become a dog trainer.

Dogs make for the perfect companion. If you are a dog lover and passionate about working with animals, becoming a dog trainer might be your perfect job. It provides you with the ultimate opportunity to do what you love while making money. You can have fulfillment and a career!

how to become a dog trainer

There is just something about being with a dog that makes one relax. It is a feeling unlike any other. Hence, it makes sense to become a dog trainer. You will find the career choice to be satisfying. Our in-depth guide covers all you need to know about how to become a dog trainer.

Let’s get started.

man training a dog

Why Should You Become a Dog Trainer?

A career as a dog trainer is rewarding. With the demand for dog trainers on the rise ever since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, it is the perfect time to learn how to become a dog trainer.

If you want to start with a free dog training course then you can start right now!


The following reasons explain why it can prove worthwhile:

1. Variety of Dog Training Types to Choose From

A great thing about dog training is that it offers a variety of specialization routes. You can find one that appeals to you. Some options include the following.

  • Hunting dog training
  • Sheepdog trial training
  • Agility training
  • Dog show training
  • Obedience dog training
  • Behavioral dog training
  • Tracking
  • Service dog training

2. No Degree Required

If you don’t have a degree and still want to make good money, dog training might be for you. The barrier to entry is rather low. You can work to become a dog trainer without a formal degree.

Dog training provides an opportunity to gain firsthand experience. There are many options available. If you have been searching for how to become a dog trainer, you would be delighted to know that there are no strict requirements to get started.

All you need is:

  • Education – A high school diploma or GED (higher education in animal care is a bonus)
  • Experience – you don’t need formal experience; however, it is a plus to have voluntary experience. You can work in dog shelters or homes to build your experience of working with dogs.
  • Skills: You should be patient, compassionate, kind, and must have a lot of stamina to become a dog trainer.

In fact, you can even specialize in training specific breeds. Some dogs breeds are more trainable than others. Trainers who specialize in difficult-to-train breeds are sought-after and highly paid. We Love Doodles suggests that becoming a dog trainer for doodles and other toy breeds is easy. Still, if you want big bucks, then you look into training dalmatians, bloodhounds, and bulldogs, etc.

3. Your Job Will Never be Boring!

Another reason to learn how to become a dog trainer is that it guarantees that every day would be unique. You will get to work with different breeds and explore various training styles. If you are a true dog lover, you will find each day to be satisfying. Be exposed to various canine behavioral problems as you work with different breeds, owners, and across the city.

4. It Offers Flexibility

As a dog trainer, you get to decide your work hours. The flexibility that comes with the career choice is unlike any other. Enjoy a flexible schedule for the ultimate work-life balance. Choose to work regular business hours, weekends, or evenings.

5. Part-Time Career Option

If you are searching for a viable part-time career option, you need to learn how to become a dog trainer. You can maintain a full-time day job and offer training services during the night or weekend. Once you have enough clients, you can transition to a full-time career.

6. Become Your Own Boss

Have you always wanted to become your own boss? Then, dog training is just for you. Run a small business and become self-employed. Launching an independent career allows you to make all business-related decisions and set your own hours. Offer services like pet sitting, dog walking, obedience, and the like. You also get to set your own fees and generate a solid income.

7. Use Problem-Solving Skills

Learning how to become a dog trainer allows you to put your problem-solving skills to the test. Use your knowledge of animal behavior for the better. Find out what might be to blame for the dog acting undesirably. Then, you get to correct negative habits by conducting some detective work. Observation goes a long way in helping you solve underlying issues.

trainor training a dog

What Do Dog Trainers Do?

The following examples cover some of the main responsibilities of a dog trainer.

  • Listen to the concerns of dog owners to understand their needs.
  • Teach dog owners how to promote good behavior.
  • Work with dog owners to teach them about their dogs.
  • Teach dog behavior to owners.
  • Patiently deal with a stubborn dog.
  • Teach commands to owners and their dogs.
  • Create a customized training plan for each dog.

Facts You Need To Know When Deciding to Become a Dog Trainer

Before searching for how to become a dog trainer, you need to know the demand for dog training in the USA. Here is what the American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey says.

  • Dog Ownership: Around 63.4 million U.S. households own a dog.
  • Surgical Vet: Dog owners spend $426 on surgical vets on average.
  • Routine Visit: American households spend $212 on routine dog visits for their dog.
  • Grooming: About $73 is spent by Americans on dog grooming.

Notable Research about Dogs

1. Dogs Were Domesticated About 20,000 to 40,000 Years Ago In Europe

Extensive archaeological samples and ancient DNA sequencing show that dogs were tamed around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago in Europe. When it comes to the evolution of dogs, Europe has been at the forefront. Most breeds share European ancestry. Modern European dogs appeared from a Neolithic population.

2. Dogs Lower the Risk of All-Cause Death

The Department of Medical Science and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University found that dogs lower the risk of death. Health, mortality, and dog ownership data of 3,432,153 Swedish residents were analyzed to find that dog ownership helps improve health.

3. Dog Owners/ Trainers Are More Likely to Take a Leisurely Walk

According to a paper published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, having a dog or working with a dog can prove beneficial. Data from the California Health Interview Survey was used. A connection between pet ownership (dog ownership) and leisure walking was observed. It was found that dog ownership increases physical activity.

4. Dogs Lower Stress and Cortisol Stress

According to research, learning how to become a dog trainer or being a dog owner helps lower stress and cortisol stress. When you come into contact with dogs, you experience a surge in oxytocin levels. It is the feel-good hormone that makes a huge difference.

If you want to start with a free dog training course then you can start right now!


How Can You Become a Dog Trainer: Steps You Need To Take?

1. Start Your Research to Become a Dog Trainer

Research helps you become a dog trainer. Whether you want to become a dog obedience trainer or ultrasonic dog trainer, research is necessary. Start by learning more about animal psychology. You have to understand the mind of dogs to become an effective dog trainer.

Conduct plenty of research into animal behavior. You can read books by reputable authors to gain an understanding of how dogs behave. You can check out The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) to find educational resources.

Some great books that you should read include:

  • How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Sophia Yin
  • The Thinking Dog by Gail Fisher.

If you already have a dog, you should observe its behavior and take notes of its habits.

2. Gain Knowledge about the Profession

When it comes to dog training, there are different types of trainers. You should read up on possible career paths to decide which one is most suitable for you. Also, it’s a good idea to look for dog trainers in your area. You can talk to them about what they do.

Personal information obtained from them can help with the decision-making. Besides being a basic obedience dog trainer, you can specialize in training dogs for military or medical purposes.

dog training in obstacle course

3. Consider Volunteering

To get a sense of what dog trainers do, you should consider volunteering. It is one of the most important steps of how to become a dog trainer. There is bound to be a volunteering opportunity in your city. It allows you to work with other people’s animals.

Look up the local animal shelter. They might just have room for another volunteer. Some programs even allow volunteers to assist with dog training. It will help you get some hands-on experience.

Through volunteering, you get to learn if dog training is the right path for you. Most shelter dogs tend to suffer from behavioral problems. As a volunteer, you get to make a difference in other people’s lives. Reach out to a foster home for dogs to improve your skills. It will ensure that you work with different dog breeds and personalities.

4. Find an Apprenticeship

A great way to learn the necessary skills for becoming a dog trainer is by finding an apprenticeship. There is no better way to improve your skills than by working with an experienced dog trainer.

Having a mentor by your side makes all the difference. You should learn more about the program before you commit to it. Keep in mind that an apprenticeship pays very little or not at all. Hence, you will need to continue working your full-time job before you make a switch. But, becoming a dog trainer apprentice is the best place to get started.

5. Get Certified

The next step for you is getting certified. Research programs that can help you get a certification. You can attend college to get a degree in animal behavior. It’ll provide you with a thorough foundation in animal psychology. You can show your qualification to potential employers to highlight your skills. Here is how you can get started.

  • Meet with the admissions department at your nearest college and inquire about their degree in Animal Behavior. Make sure to consider the time and costs involved. A dog trainer school might also be a great option.
  • An affordable option that you can also pursue is joining a trade school. Even though it would not be accredited, there are still reputable programs that help you establish your name in the field.
  • It’s not always necessary to complete a degree program or go to a dog training school to earn your certification. You should contact the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) to learn more about how to become a dog trainer. They may accept your prior training experience for offering a dog trainer certification.
  • After you are certified, you must take part in continuing education to stay ahead.

6. Find Work

The next step in our guide on how to become a dog trainer is finding work. Here is how to can find meaningful employment.

  • Consider Your Priorities: After you complete your education or training, you need to think about the type of training job you want to pursue. You can start by working for a business that deals with typical obedience training techniques to get a better command of the methods. Specialized work will must you live in the right area. Certain cities will provide you with the opportunity to train military and police dogs. Thus, you might need to move for work.
  • Update Your Materials: After deciding which type of trainer to become, you must search for the right job. Update your resume to ensure that it reflects your most current education and experience. It is important that you ask your mentors or program advisors to serve as professional references.
  • Search for Potential Employers: Job search sites provide the perfect platform for locating work. Look up different sites to find job openings. The nearest pet store might be hiring. As a new trainer, you will find it to be the perfect option.
  • Ask Local Dog Trainers: If you want to maximize your earning potential, it makes sense to work with a local dog trainer. There might be a local dog trainer looking for a partner.

7. Consider Starting Your Own Company

Having an entrepreneurial nature? You can start your very own dog training business. Start a company offers plenty of perks, such as being your own boss and setting your own hours. Prepare a clear business plan for your company. Consider your start-up costs, how much you would need to make break-even, and how much you should charge clients.

8. Focus on Networking

The final step in our ultimate guide on how to become a dog trainer is to invest in networking to find new opportunities. Whether you start your own dog training business or work for a company, participating in the professional community will help you grow.

Attend continuing education programs and social events to expand your circle. You will develop important professional connections when you spend time with other trainers. You can join the following organizations to take your network to the next level.

  • The International Association of Canine Professionals,
  • The National Association of Dog Instructors
  • The Association of Pet Dog Trainers

FAQs – How to Become A Dog Trainer

How Long Does It Take To Become A Dog Trainer?

Becoming a dog trainer does not take a very long time. The amount of time it would take to become a dog trainer depends on the path you take. It can take a few weeks or even a few months for you to complete the training program.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Dog Trainer?

To get started as a dog trainer, you just need a high school diploma. There are no strict requirements to become a dog trainer. But, you should have people skills as you would have to work with dog owners and help them train their dogs.

How Much Money Does A Dog Trainer Make?

Before you learn more about how to become a professional dog trainer, you would want to know how much is dog trainer salary? A service dog trainer’s salary ranges from $30,600 to $53,000, as shown on Glassdoor. It is just enough to lead a good lifestyle.

person training a dog

Is Dog Training A Good Career?

There are plenty of dog trainer jobs. A basic search on Glassdoor will reveal just how many openings there are. Since dog training can prove to be a satisfying career choice, it makes for a good career.

Can You Make A Living As A Dog Trainer?

With the starting salary of a dog trainer being at least $30,600, you can easily make a living working as a dog trainer.

What Are Jobs That Work With Dogs?

As you read more about how to be a dog trainer, you must be interested in the types of jobs that are available. You can work as a dog obedience trainer, a dog acting coach, a police dog coach, and a dog personality coach, to name a few of the options.

Does PetSmart Train Their Dog Trainers?

The best thing about PetSmart is that it provides training to dog lovers. Learn about training puppies or take on an advanced course depending on your interests. PetSmart even offers therapy dog prep classes. You should have no trouble finding the best dog training course at PetSmart. Its accredited pet trainers are experts in canine communication and provide a fun experience.

Can You Work With Animals Without A Degree?

If you want to know how to become a service dog trainer without a degree, you would be delighted to know that there is no such need to work with animals. As long as you have some experience and knowledge of animal behavior, you will get to work with animals.

What Are The 7 Basic Dog Commands?

An important question you need to answer when you learn how to become a certified dog trainer is the 7 basic dog commands. These are mentioned below.

  • Name Recognition: The first dog command you need to master is name recognition. Dogs need to respond enthusiastically to their name being called. As a certified dog trainer, you should know how to teach dogs their name.
  • Sit: The next basic dog command is sitting. It teaches dogs to sit down. Firstly, you need the dog to understand how to sit before asking it to sit. You have to focus on duration, distractions, and distance.
  • Down: It means to stay until the dog is released. The command can be coupled with other commands.
  • Heel: Getting dragged while walking with a dog can prove dangerous. If dogs are not trained to walk on a loose leash, it can cause a hazard. Some people end up breaking their hip due to this. Thus, you have to know how to teach pre-heeling.
  • Come: Considered to be a non-negotiable, come is a command that can save your dog’s life. It shows the dog has been trained to overlook heavy distractions and new environments.
  • Place: Next, you need to know place training. It teaches the dog to pause and enter a zen-like state.
  • Leave It: Dogs can be stubborn. Leave is a command that asserts control over them and encourages them to stop doing whatever they might be doing.

Do Dogs Need Professional Training?

Dogs are just like humans and have to be professionally trained to respond well to everyday situations.  Unless the dog has been trained, dog owners cannot take it out. If their dog does not behave in public and harms someone, they would even end up getting fined.

woman training her dog

How Much Does A Pet Trainer Make At PetSmart?

PetSmart is a great place to start your career after you have received your dog trainer certification. Typically, dog trainers are paid $11 an hour by the company. But, salaries range from $9 to $16 an hour, according to Glassdoor./How Much Is Service Dog Trainer Salary?

A service Dog trainer’s salary depends on their experience and geographical area. According to Glassdoor, top earners make around $50,000 annually, whereas the median salary is $35,500 per anum.

Takeaways: What Should I Do Now?

Becoming a dog trainer just got a whole lot easier with our post. Now, you are ready to start your journey to become a dog trainer. If you want a successful career as a dog trainer, you need to put significant time and effort into learning the necessary skills.

The steps above will help you become a dog trainer. It is about time that you took some action. Here are some of the takeaways you can put to use right now.

  • Volunteer
  • Read about Animal Behavior
  • Join an Apprenticeship Program or a Dog Trainer Program
  • Work with Your Dog
  • Network
  • Join a Dog Training School
  • Start a Dog Training Company

If you want to start with a free dog training course then you can start right now!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tyler Martinez

    Should there be degrees for dog trainers as well? I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea. While some dog trainers are good I’ve also seen my share of bad and really bad ones. People that don’t have the love necessary in this field. These people shouldn’t be dog trainers.

  2. Gavin

    Agreed. Such dog trainers will do a lot of bad to a dog’s behavior since they don’t have the empathy or patience needed for working with a dog. Formal degrees should be a thing in this field as well. Only do this if you love dogs and are patient enough to work with them and help them get better.

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