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How to Make Money With Your Own Dog Trainer Business

Updated on May 24, 2013

Make Money Working With Dogs

Turn your love of dogs into a career.
Turn your love of dogs into a career. | Source

If you have a way with dogs, and you’d like to spend your time working with them, offering your natural talents and dog-behavior knowledge to other pet owners can be the best business in the world. Where else can you get up in the morning and plan to spend your day with man’s best friend?

Unfortunately, colleges don’t offer degrees in dog training, and there are many unqualified trainers out there. To be successful in the dog training business, you have to do your homework and you have to work closely with dogs and their owners to help establish behavioral traits that will last the dog’s lifetime.

Start Up Investments and Qualifications

You can start your dog-training business on a shoestring; offering one-on-one instruction in your back yard and as your clientele grows, you can expand to offer group classes during the day or evening at your home or in a rented building.

If you already have a training method you prefer and one that you find successfully trains dogs to follow basic commands, use that, but don’t stop there. Visit your library and check out dog training and behavior books and videos as part of your ongoing education.

Join the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) to get up-to-date training and legal information that will keep your business on the right track.

Dog-Training Techniques

Dog training is a rewarding career, but keep in mind that you’re dealing with dog owners who want their dogs to obey but will not tolerate yelling, hitting, shock collars or other forms of animal abuse. And, let’s face it – if you need to employ those techniques – you’re in the wrong business buddy.

Many acceptable dog-training techniques are out there for your use, including clicker training, standard AKC obedience training, and specialty training, which you can get into as your business grows and your clients want more services.

What Services Should You Offer?

At the very least, you should offer training in basic obedience. This includes teaching the dog to heel, sit, stay, down and come. Most pet owners want to walk their dogs on leashes without the dogs pulling their arms off or trying to chase every stray cat they pass.

Develop Your Training Technique

Training the Dog Means Training the Owner Too


The best way to train a dog is to train its owner at the same time. Whether your offering private lessons or group lessons, make the dog’s owner handle the leash and show him how to make his dog mind. You can train a dog all you want, but if you send him home and his owner doesn’t know how to replicate your commands and get the same responses, you’ve failed as a dog trainer. Insist that the dog owner (or a family member) attend the training sessions and make sure they know what they’re supposed to do before they go home. Require dog owners to practice the techniques between training sessions for the best results.

Set an Agressive Dog Policy

Don't deal with aggressive dogs unless you know what you're doing.
Don't deal with aggressive dogs unless you know what you're doing.

Aggressive Dogs

Yep, they’re out there and if you’re not comfortable training them, let your customers know before they bring their dogs over. This is especially important if you’re running group obedience classes because you don’t want to put any other dogs, or their owners at risk. If you’re good at retraining aggressive dogs, your services will be in high demand, but train each dog individually and take precautions, such as training the dog in a secure fenced yard.

Expanding Your Dog Training Services

There are nearly as many types of specialty dog training as there are breeds of dogs. The more you can specialize – the more money you’ll make. All specialty training requires in-depth study and knowledge before you can train dogs.

If you’d like to offer one or more specialty’s consider dog conformation classes for show dogs, agility training, therapy dog training, shutzhund (attack dog training), drug-sniffing dog training, search and rescue (SAR). Start a group for interested dog owners and offer monthly meetings to keep everyone informed.

Go Mobile


Taking your training services to the next level might include making house calls. This is a very desirable service to offer because busy clients don’t have to leave the comfort of their own homes and the dog is in familiar territory.

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