Tips for Becoming a Full-time Dog Trainer

Tips for Becoming a Full-time Dog Trainer


This article was provided by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers to accompany our brand new podcast! Learn from professional dog trainers who have made the transition into full-time business owners before. We’re sharing our tips for those who are just starting out. Don’t forget to listen to the first episode of The Modern Dog Trainer Podcast!

what its like to be a full-time dog trainer

So You Want to be a Dog Trainer?

  • Love for dogs? Check!
  • Want to make your own schedule and work autonomously? Check!
  • Desire to make money doing something fulfilling? Check!

Sounds like you want to be a dog trainer! The good news is that dog training can be a lucrative and fulfilling career if you can make it! The bad news is, there are some barriers to entry with choosing a career as a dog trainer.

Becoming a Full-time Dog Trainer

If you’re still reading, it sounds like you’re ready to take the plunge. And as a board member of the leading independent certifying agency for dog training professionals, I believe that you can do it. But before you begin, you should start thinking about some of the things you need to do to be successful. And while you’ve likely thought about stocking up on treats, leashes, and training collars; you have likely not thought about some of the intangibles that are worth your consideration before making the jump into full-time dog training. Things like:

  1. Your schedule will be all over the place.  As a dog trainer, you are in the service industry. People in the service industry work when their clientele do not. For a dog trainer, that means nights and weekends. Think about your current schedule, and think about how that may change when you become a dog trainer. If you have loads of commitments, hobbies, and engagements that happen during night and weekend hours; are you willing to give up that life?
  2. A good support system.  Maybe it is a spouse who is willing to support you as you leave to teach that 7:30pm class or book your Saturday full of clients. Or a healthy savings account that you can dip into in the months before you make it big time. Either way, you need something to fall back on as this can be an emotionally and financially draining profession.

Dog training is very often a second career for people. And many are disappointed to find that after 20 years of building a livable salary for themselves working at their first career, they struggle to make ends meet as a dog trainer. But think about it this way: you may have had a successful career in one field, but entering the dog training field, you are starting back at entry level. That may mean taking jobs that are not your dream job just to work with dogs. . . and doing it at an entry level salary. If you persist, it gets better. . . we promise. But you’ve got to make a name for yourself before you start making big bucks! Oh, and those big bucks we’re talking about. . . probably just a mid-range salary for someone coming out of the business world.

  1. A love for people. Here’s a biggie. Dog trainers never get into this field thinking about how much they love working with people. They want to help dogs. But here’s the truth. . . dog’s don’t pay your salary, their owners do! So, in order to be a successful dog trainer, you have to be good with dogs and GREAT with people.   And many times you may feel like you are in sales, you’re selling yourself and dog training more than you are just training a dog. So brush up on that etiquette, you’ve got people to meet!

So after all of this do you still want to be a dog trainer? Well, here’s the good news: it’s a fun job for the right individual.  And very fulfilling. If becoming a dog training professional intrigues you, we encourage you to check out our website at www.ccpdt.org for more information.

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