Dog Trainer Career Information

If you love working with dogs and have the desire to help people train their animals, you might be interested in more information about a career as a dog trainer.


Before you sign up for courses to become a dog trainer, you should take an honest assessment of yourself. Do you like all breeds of dogs regardless of size or temperament? Can you work with any dog, even the stubborn and aggressive ones? Do you work well with people, and do believe you would make a good instructor for someone who wants to train his dog? Have you got the patience to work with difficult people and/or challenging dogs over the many hours it will take train them? Are you willing to put in the time, effort, and money it takes to be a successful dog trainer? If you answered “yes” to all these questions, then read on.

Education and Experience

While no formal degree is required to become a dog trainer, you can benefit from taking classes. There are numerous K9 academies and dog training schools to choose from. To find one in your area, check the yellow pages or ask a local vet or pet store owner to point you in the right direction. Before you spend your hard earned money, though, make sure the school is reputable. Avoid online correspondence courses since they won’t give you any “hands on” experience. You can learn just as much from reading free books that you can check out from the library.

If you can’t afford school, you might get in touch with breeders and dog trainers close to you and see if they are willing to mentor you and teach what they know. You could also volunteer at an animal shelter where you can get some hand-on experience. Some of these rescue centers offer dog training classes, and if they do, make sure to take the opportunity to sit in and observe. Many pet stores also offer obedience training. Ask if you can apprentice with the instructor. She will probably appreciate the help, and you will learn a great deal.

After your initial education, you will need to keep your knowledge current but attending conferences, workshops, and seminars about the latest developments in dog training. As a part of your ongoing effort to stay current in your field, consider joining a dog training organization. One good one is the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. They distribute a regular newsletter that will provide you with more information about the dog training business.

Earnings & Prospects

Once you have gone from being a trainee to an actual bona fide dog trainer, you can begin working either full or part time. Full time dog trainers can make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 annually depending on their how much experience they have, how good their reputation is, and in what part of the country they are located. Part time workers can expect to make anywhere from $10 to $25 an hour.

The majority of dog trainers are self employed and get their referrals from vets, animal hospitals, rescue shelters, and pet stores. So make sure you contact all these places and let them know about the services you have available. Also see if they are willing to distribute flyers or business cards on your behalf. Because the number of people who own dogs is continually increasing, the job market for dog trainers is growing, and the prospects of finding work are good, especially in large, metropolitan areas. In fact in the next 10 years, a projected 10,000 new animal trainer jobs will become available, a projected 23% increase from the 43,000 held in 2006.

Different Jobs

Along with showing people how to get their dogs to do things like sit, stay, and go outside, you might also want to consider a career training professional service dogs. These animals would include seeing eye dogs or even police dogs. These specialized service dogs have to have intensive training so that they meet the need of those who are depending on them, and it can be very rewarding training these animals.

Dog trainers are special, dedicated people who have a great deal of patience and determination and handle challenges well. So if you are someone with these qualities, a career in dog training just might be the right one for you.