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How to Start a Dog Training Business: 8 Simple Steps

If you love dogs, dog training can be an exciting and rewarding career. It can be especially exciting if you decide to start your own dog training business. Many pet owners are looking for everything from puppy training to helping with specific behavior challenges.

Whether starting as a solo petrepreneur or overseeing multiple specialized trainers, learning what you need to get your business up and running is vital. 

The 8 simple steps below will detail how to become a certified dog trainer and build the training business of your dreams. 

Dog trainer with 2 dogs for the 'How To Start a Dog Training Business' article.
Source: payamona

How to become a certified dog trainer.

Learning how to become a certified dog trainer, like all careers working with animals, starts with experience. You likely will have some kind of experience with training your own dog, and that's a great place to start. To gain more hands-on experience, you can apprentice with other professional dog trainers or volunteer at your local animal shelter.

Many pet owners of new puppies or dogs with behavioral challenges are going to be looking for an experienced and knowledgeable dog trainer. You should be prepared to work with dogs of all breeds and temperaments. It’s a good idea to learn multiple dog training techniques as one technique might work for some dogs but not others. 

There are no state or federal requirements to becoming a dog trainer or owning a dog training business. However, it is a good idea to become a member of and gain certification from credible organizations, such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). Gaining these endorsements and certifications can show your clients that you have the knowledge and experience to deliver results.

How much does it cost to become a dog trainer?

Becoming a dog trainer can cost as much or as little as you like. As there are no formal certifications required, you don’t need to spend any money. However, it’s recommended to become a certified dog trainer which will incur some costs.

There are a lot of great resources to help you become a certified dog trainer. You can enroll in dog training schools to get hands-on experience or take courses and attend webinars. You can also take individual seminars and read dog training books. 

The cost of becoming a dog trainer will vary depending on the course fees, learning materials, seminar tickets, certification fees, equipment, and ongoing learning fees. It can be a small investment but will set you up for a fulfilling and meaningful career.

Are dog training businesses profitable?

Becoming a dog trainer and starting your own business can be a profitable endeavor. The expenses for a dog training business depend on where you're running the business, purchases for training supplies, and any certification or education costs. 

A dog training business has relatively low overhead costs and doesn’t require you to have a commercial facility, you can provide your dog training services in a local park. If you gain a large enough client base, you can make a considerable profit. 

What type of dog training should I specialize in?

When people think about dog training, naturally, they think it's all the same. But in reality, several different dog training specialties can help dogs learn new skills and good habits. Deciding which one to specialize in depends on the kind of dogs you would like to work with.

You can specialize in:

  • Obedience training
  • Puppy training
  • Behavioral training
  • Dog sport training
  • Tracking and scent training
  • Rescue training
  • Therapy training
  • Service dog training

With the right skills, you can work with your dream clients to train their dogs in a wide variety of specialized skills that can make them excellent helpers, hunters, and rescuers. 

Search and rescue dog for the 'How To Start a Dog Training Business' article.
Source: photosbyjim

How to start a dog training business in 8 easy steps.

Starting a dog training business can be accomplished in many ways, from running it out of your home, making house calls, or running a dog training center. Whichever way you start out, the essential steps are the same. This guide will set you up with everything you need to start a dog training business and begin the career of your dreams. 

Step 1: Perform market research.

By now you have gained the necessary dog training experience and have chosen the type of dog training you would like to specialize in. Now it’s time to focus on building your business.

Market research is the perfect first step in your journey to creating your own dog training business. It can help you better understand the demand for dog trainers in your area and whether there is a greater need for one training specialty over another. 

Perhaps you live in a rural area where your potential clients are more interested in tracking training than they are in puppy training. By speaking to the local dog owners you can get a good understanding of any gaps in the market.

A big part of your market research is looking into what the local competition would be. Start gathering information on other trainers, what they offer, their prices, if they have any partnerships, and what you can do to help your dog training business stand out. 

If there are a lot of dog trainers with your preferred specialty, you can consider switching it up to offer a service that is more in demand or has less competition.

Dog training business focus group for the 'How To Start a Dog Training Business' article.
Source: monkeybusinessimages

Step 2: Create a budget. 

When starting any business, controlling your finances can help you stay on top of expenses and prevent you from overspending. After all, it's very easy to get carried away purchasing shiny new equipment and all the delicious dog treats. 

Creating a budget for a dog training business can be quite simple. Items to include in your budget include: 

  • Rent or a mortgage (depending on where you plan on operating)
  • Utilities for any spaces you operate out of
  • Vehicle for traveling and house calls
  • Insurance to protect you and your business
  • Training equipment, supplies, and treats
  • Employee salaries when you decide to add to your team
  • Certifications and courses
  • Software like PetExec to organize clients and schedules 
  • Marketing and advertising to build your client base

It's always a good idea to keep your personal and business finances separate. Be sure to open a business bank account to keep all of your business income and expenses separate from your personal income.


Step 3: Write a dog training business plan.

A strong plan is essential for success in any business venture. You will need to create a business plan that details your plans for operations, financial information, and your current and future goals. 

Here's everything you need to create the perfect business plan:

  1. Write an executive summary: Your executive summary is a short outline of your entire business plan for your dog training venture. Include the type of training you plan to offer, the costs for your dog training services, marketing strategies, and if you'll need financial support.
  1. Include a company description: Although your operations may start small, they can scale quickly. Provide information about your company and describe your background. Include how long you've trained dogs, your certifications, and your dreams for the future of your business.
  1. More details about the services you'll offer: This section will provide more information about the training services you plan to offer. Detail out the price for dog training and any future services or training specialties you hope to offer in the future. 
  1. Talk about the competition: You will have some competition, it's only natural. Ensuring your success is all about standing out among the rest. Write about the competition in your local area and how your business will stand out and shine.
  1. Detail of your marketing plan: How do you plan on getting the word out about your dog training business? This section is going to cover all aspects of marketing, including your social media strategy, referrals, promotions, and more. 
  1. Financial planning: Write out the details of your financial summary and include your budget, projected income, and growth potential.
  1. Management and organizational details: Provide information about anyone that may be helping you with operations or financial backers that are supporting you as you build your business.

Dog training business plan for the 'How To Start a Dog Training Business' article.
Source: Weedezign

Step 4: Purchase training equipment and supplies.

Luckily, there isn't a lot of dog training equipment you'll need for your business, but having everything in stock can save you from having to run out last minute to pick up supplies.

Here are the basics you'll need to stock up on for your dog training business:

  • Dog training leashes of various sizes
  • A variety of treats
  • Treat pouch
  • Chew toys 
  • Gentle leaders of all sizes
  • Muzzles 
  • Clickers
  • Crates 
  • Dog gates
  • Tunnels, ramps, and other agility toys

Keep a stock of delicious treats to celebrate each dog's successful completion of a new skill or trick. 

Step 5: Address the legal requirements for a dog training business.

When starting any business, you'll need to look into the legal requirements to make sure you are in line with any state or federal laws or regulations. You want to make sure you have all the required licenses, permits and pay any fees. 

Whilst there is no requirement that is specific to a dog training business, there are a few things you'll need to have in place before you can begin training dogs.

In most states, you'll be required to:

  • Choose your business structure: Setting up your business structure dictates how you will be taxed and also protects your business in a legal settlement. You can choose between sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or LLC.  
  • Obtain dog training business insurance: Insurance is needed to protect you against the risks that come with working with dogs.  
  • Business licensing and permits: You will need to obtain the necessary business licensing and permits from your local government.
  • Organizational documentation: Create contracts and liability waivers for your clients to sign before you commence any work.

Step 6: Address health and safety requirements for dog training.

When working with animals, there are going to be health and safety regulations that you will need to follow. Check your local government’s website to ensure you are always in compliance.

Dog training isn't always going to be working with happy puppies and loving dogs. Many dog owners struggle with their dog's behavioral challenges and will need your help. When working with reactive dogs, you'll need the right equipment and patience. Although you will be working with them for short bursts of time, health and safety is your top priority.

If you perform dog training for aggression, ensure you are working in a safe space away from other people, and that you have the proper equipment to protect yourself. This includes short leashes, a muzzle, and safety gear. 

Always be prepared, and you'll be able to prevent dangerous situations and reduce the risk of harm to others. 

Step 7: Develop a dog training business marketing plan.

There are a lot of steps to take to get your business up and running but it's time to start building your client base. What good is a training business without any dogs to train? Building your client base requires a smart marketing plan

Starting out, you can begin to build relationships with local pet stores, dog walkers, veterinarians, doggie daycare centers, and pet sitters to start building a client base built on referrals. You can offer discounts or free sessions to incentivize potential clients to give you a chance to show them your skills in training and handling their dogs. 

Like most marketing and advertising for businesses, you need to:

  • Build an engaging website that showcases your specialties and certifications
  • Encourage feedback and reviews from clients, friends, and family who have used your services
  • Practice incredible customer service with all communications
  • Stay active and engaging in your social media to build your brand

For many small and independent dog training business owners, the real way to boost your profitability is by keeping the clients you attract. By offering convenient training sessions and working closely with your client's needs, people are more likely to reschedule with you.

As you grow your business, expand your services, and bring on more highly skilled trainers, you can offer new services to your current clients. They will enjoy the enrichment their dogs receive from learning new skills. PetExec makes scheduling and managing employees and clients easy to help you scale your business.

Dog training business owner and customer for the 'How To Start a Dog Training Business' article.
Source: Hero Images

Step 8: Create a dog training business operations plan.

Once you've started working with clients, and feel like you've gotten into a good groove, it's time to start thinking of the next steps. What that looks like really depends on your goals for the future of your dog training business.

Hire more employees: As your business grows, eventually, it will get too hard to handle everything. You'll want to hire people to take on various roles. Some of the potential positions you can fill in your dog training business include an administrator or receptionist to help with scheduling and managing clients or social media and marketing managers.

Add more specialty training services or group classes: Expand your services and offering by hiring other specialty trainers to help with the different needs many potential clients might have. You can even hire more dog trainers to host group classes like puppy training and more. Organize and schedule all your classes easily with PetExec.

Offer mobile training: Clients love convenience, and setting up a mobile training service that comes to them can be a unique selling point. You'll need mobile training equipment, and you'll need to add vehicle insurance to your budget.

Pet business software reviews.

As you begin your entrepreneurial journey, it is a good idea to consider a pet business software tool to help automate the business’ administrative tasks. PetExec has been helping pet business owners for over 15 years and is widely considered one of the best pet business software tools on the market.

PetExec has countless positive reviews online from many satisfied customers. 


PetExec dog boarding software reviews from Capterra.
Source: Capterra

Software Advice:

PetExec dog boarding software reviews from Software Advice.
Source: Software Advice


PetExec dog boarding software reviews from GetApp.
Source: GetApp

Final thoughts.

People love their dogs, but they aren't born with the knowledge of how to train them, and sometimes a dog’s circumstance can teach them undesirable habits. As a dog trainer, you can help dogs and their owners learn new skills and improve behaviors. 

Book a free demo with PetExec today to see how they can help you on your journey to becoming the number one dog trainer in your area!


What certifications do you need to become a professional dog trainer?

There are no specific certifications needed to become a professional dog trainer. However, certifications or endorsements through reputable dog training organizations can help you build a successful dog training business.

What type of dog training should I specialize in?

The type of dog training you specialize in depends on your skills and passions. If you find you have a calling to help aggressive dogs, you can take courses on dog behavior and work towards taking clients on with these needs.

What equipment and tools do I need for dog training?

You don't need much to start dog training. At the minimum, you need a good dog training leash, a harness, treats, a clicker, and a safe space.

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