So, you want to start a dog training business? That’s great! Dog training is a hugely profitable and rewarding industry, and there’s always room for more talented trainers.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know in order to start your own successful dog training business from scratch. We’ll cover topics such as how to find clients, what services to offer, how much to charge, and more!
What Qualifications Are Needed to Be a Dog Trainer?
First and foremost, in order to start a dog training business, you’ll need to be an experienced trainer. This means that you’ll need to have a wealth of knowledge about dog behavior, obedience training methods, and how to handle dogs safely.
While you don’t technically need a formal qualification in canine training, it DEFINITELY helps if you do! In fact, by choosing to forego a proper education, you’ll be setting up your career for failure. This is why we believe that the single smartest way to launch a become a thriving trainer is to first start by getting properly trained and certified.
But we’ll get into that more a little later…
In the meantime, you can also check out our Ultimate Guide on becoming a dog trainer for more information about this job path!
Is a Dog Training Business Profitable?
Absolutely! In fact, the pet industry as a whole is booming, and it’s only expected to continue growing in the years to come. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for dog trainers who are looking to start their own business.
What Do Dog Trainers Charge?
Bark.com published an excellent article on this very topic, so that’s where we’ll draw our information. (Although it’s always worth keeping in mind that the numbers provided are not absolutes! Rather, they’re meant to simply give you an idea of the type of rates you can charge your clients.)
According to this article, the average dog trainer charges $75 per session. Minimum rates can be as low as $30 per session, and higher-end fees can be as much as $120 (or more) a session.
Other Pricing Factors
Furthermore, your rates may be different, depending on the type of class being taught (i.e. single vs. group sessions), the age of the dog(s), how much experience you have, etc. Bark.com reports that the average rate for a group class, for example, is around $40 – whereas a private class charges the client approx. $82.50 on average.
The type of training can also influence your rates, too. For example, you may want to charge a little higher if specializing in aggressive dogs. Similarly, you may want there to be a price difference between puppy training sessions vs. adult dog training sessions.
Most training sessions only last around an hour, so no matter how you choose to structure your pricing, it’ll quickly add up to a healthy income stream. Not too bad, right?
What Do Dog Trainers Do On a Day-To-Day Basis?
As a dog trainer, many of your days will be spent working with a variety of different dogs – each with their own unique personality and set of obedience issues. In other words, no two days on the job will ever be the same!
In addition to teaching obedience classes, you may also find yourself doing things like:
- Evaluating new dogs to see if they’re suitable for training
- Consulting with pet parents about their dog’s behavior problems
- Giving private lessons in people’s homes
- Working one-on-one with problem dogs at a shelter or rescue organization
- Conducting canine research projects
Furthermore, if you’re running your own dog training business, you’ll also be responsible for the backend of your operations. This means that you’ll also have to stay on top of:
- Marketing and advertising your services
- Managing client bookings
- Creating invoices/receipts
- Ordering supplies as needed
- Bookkeeping and accounting tasks
As you can see, there’s definitely a lot that goes into being a successful dog trainer! Are YOU up for the challenge?
If so, keep reading… we’re about to dive into the 6 steps involved in starting a dog training business!
Step #1: Get Trained and Internationally-Certified as a Dog Trainer!
As we mentioned earlier, it’s important that you have the proper credentials before starting your dog training business. This means that you’ll need to complete a professional dog trainer course and become certified through an accredited institution, such as QC Pet Studies.
Not only will this ensure that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in your career; it’ll also give your clients peace of mind, knowing that they’re working with a qualified professional.
About QC Pet Studies’ Self-Paced, Online Dog Training Course
There are countless reasons why we recommend this program! Firstly, you have the freedom and convenience of completing it right from the comfort of home (yes, even for the hands-on training). Secondly, you’re giving 2 full years – starting on the date you enroll – to finish the course. However, during that time, you can use as much or as little of those 2 years as you need.
In other words, how soon you graduate is entirely up to YOU!
So, what can you expect to learn in QC’s Dog Training Course? Here are just some of the skills and knowledge you’ll acquire:
- Breed types and characteristics
- The guiding principles of dog training
- Fundamentals of safe training
- Stages of development
- Socialization stages
- Accurate canine communication
- Calming signals and fear responses
- Learning theory and how to apply it
- Training methods and tools
- Addressing and correcting unwanted behaviors
- How to work as a trainer and properly teach pet parents these invaluable skills
- And more!
Plus, you’ll also have an entire unit devoted to business training! This particular section of the program will teach you about everything that goes into starting (and running) a successful business, such as:
- How to get your business off the ground
- Choosing a name for your business and getting it legally registered
- Requirements and recommendations for business insurance
- How to develop a business plan
- The best marketing techniques
- Selling your services successfully
The final section of your course will even prepare you for the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) exam from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers! Although this added certification isn’t technically required (as we discussed earlier), most professional dog trainers strive to achieve it all the same.
By taking QC’s Dog Training Course, you’ll not only graduate with an International Dog Training Professional™ ( IDTP™) certification – you’ll be better prepared to ace the CPDT exam and launch your business with that certification on your resume, too!
Ready to get started? Learn even more about QC’s Dog Training Course here and enroll today!
Step #2: Choose Your Dog Training Niche!
Now that you know what it takes to become a professional dog trainer, it’s time to start thinking about your niche. In other words, what type of training do you want to specialize in?
There are many different niches within the dog training industry – more than we could possibly list here! However, here are just some examples to get your wheels turning:
- Puppy training
- Obedience training
- Agility training
- Service animal training
- Therapy dog training
- Protection/guard dog training
This is by no means an exhaustive list – the options are truly endless when it comes to choosing a specialty for your business. And remember: you don’t have to choose just one! You could easily offer a variety of services to appeal to a wider range of clients.
How to Hone in On Your Niche
The best way to decide which niche is right for you is to ask yourself some questions:
- Which areas of dog training do I enjoy the most?
- What are my skills and strengths?
- What type of clientele do I want to work with?
- What’s the demand for this particular type of training in my area?
Once you have a good idea of what you want your business to look like, it’s time to move on to the next step…
Step #3: Develop Your Training Program!
Now that you know what type of training you want to offer, it’s time to start developing your program.
This process will vary depending on your niche. However, there are some key elements that should be included in every dog training program, such as:
- A thorough evaluation of the dog’s temperament and behaviors
- An explanation of the trainer’s recommended course of action
- Individualized attention and correction for each dog
- A clear explanation of the expected results/goals
- Regular progress reports for pet parents
- Ongoing support from the trainer even after the program is complete
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to developing your training program, don’t worry. This is exactly the sort of stuff you’ll learn in QC’s Dog Training Course!
Step #4: Start Marketing Your Business!
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start marketing your business. This is where things can get a little tricky, as there are many different ways to go about it. However, some of the most effective methods include:
- Creating a professional website, as well as an online presence through social media
- Developing relationships with local pet businesses, dog groomers, and organizations
- Running ads in print or online publications
- Giving presentations or workshops on dog training topics
- Networking with other professionals in the industry
It’s important to know that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Rather, you’ll need to experiment until you find what works best for you and your business. But with a little effort, you’re sure to start seeing results fairly quickly!
Step #5: Start Training Dogs!
Now that you’ve got your business off the ground, it’s time to start actually training dogs! This is where the real work begins, but it’s also what makes it all worth it. Seeing a dog learn and grow under your guidance is an incredibly rewarding experience, and one that can’t be matched by anything else.
Some excellent ways that you can begin gaining real-world experience include:
- Offering free consultations or introductory sessions
- Providing complimentary training sessions to friends and family in order to start building your portfolio
- Lending your training expertise to local animal shelters and non-profit organizations
You can also try enticing first-time clients to book their training sessions with you by offering them a free consultation, a referral discount, or any other type of promo service you wish to give them. Our point is, don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box. There are many ways to gain experience and build your client base, so don’t be afraid to try something new!
Step #6: Keep Learning and Growing!
As the saying goes: “It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, the exact same logic should be applied to your dog training career!
As a professional trainer, it’s important to always be learning and growing. After all, the industry is constantly changing. So, you need to be prepared for anything!
Here are just a few ways to continue honing your skills:
- Attend seminars and workshops
- Read industry publications
- Participate in online forums and discussion groups
- Take courses and workshops from other professionals
- Shadow a dog trainer for a day
The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to NEVER stop learning. By continuing to expand your knowledge, you’ll be able to offer the highest quality training possible to your clients. And that’s what it’s all about: giving dogs the best chance at success!
Now that you know how to start a dog training business, it’s time to put your skills into action! We hope this article has been helpful and provided some valuable information.
Remember: always do your research before starting any new venture, and consult with an expert if necessary. With a little hard work and determination, you’re sure to be successful!