How to Become a Certified Dog Trainer: in Simple Steps

We often come across dog trainers, no? Ever thought of making a career of it? Well, dog training can be an enjoyable as well as rewarding career choice if you love animals and want to spend more time with them. 

The U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that animal care is expected to have a positive outlook in the next few years, with the employment rate increasing at a rate of 30%. This might be the best time to start your career!?.

Do you know that dog trainers earn a reasonably good sum of money every year??

In this article, we will explore the scopes and responsibilities of a dog trainer, the steps you would have to follow if you wish to become one, and the skills you must work on. There is plenty of useful information and tips you should know. Let’s jump in right away!?

Who is a dog trainer?

A dog trainer primarily works with dogs to instruct them on formal obedience and, in specific cases, special performance tasks. Some dog trainers are hired to correct behavior or train dogs for shows/competitions. ?

Others are hired to train and prepare service dogs who work as assistants to humans in various activities. 

The career can be rewarding and has great earning potential, and it is probably the best catch for you if you love spending time with and taking care of dogs. Over the next few years, this field of work is expected to have a very positive job outlook.

Let us have a look at the possible income of a dog trainer?. 

How much can a dog trainer earn??

The average salary of a dog trainer in the U.S. is $35,451 every year, but depending on several factors, the range generally considered in the industry is $30,000 to $1,00,000. Your skills, experience, and marketing will mostly determine your salary. 

For instance, if you charge $60 for every session and schedule 5 sessions in a day, your income comes up to $300/day. So, if you are working five days a week, even with two weeks of leave every year, you will earn $75,000 annually. Your specialization, location of operation, and experience will also affect your income to a great extent.

How to Become A Dog Trainer? (Tips)

Let us have a glance at the most important steps you would have to take once you decide to pursue a career as a dog trainer:

Understand the dog training job field.

Understanding animal behavioral patterns is very important for a dog trainer. So, the first thing to do is to know more about what you are getting into. You can read books, attend conferences, workshops, or see articles and videos online to learn more about how dogs behave and how they must be trained. ?

Take obedience classes and practice these training methods on your own dog or someone else’s pet dog.

Gather experience.

Once your training is complete, you must gather enough experience to become a professional dog trainer. You have to practice explaining to other owners about training their dogs. Try volunteering at a local animal camp or rescue organization. You can also apply for an apprenticeship with an established dog trainer. ✅

Many dog training apprenticeships go on for about 6-12 months and give you the on-the-field experience you need. You will become an expert at the job and learn various methods of training various breeds of dogs. You will eventually interact with interested clients and work with their dogs under minimal or zero surveillance.

Get your dog trainer certification.

You don’t need a state/federal certification to become a dog trainer, and it is important to get an endorsement from an independent establishment so that you can showcase your understanding and skill in this field to interested employers and clients. 

There are training programs that offer certifications to aspiring dog trainers who want to improve their credentials.

Examples include the CCPDT (Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers), the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals), and the NADOI (National Association of Dog Obedience Trainers).

Work with a renowned organization.

When you have enough experience and all the necessary certifications, you just try getting into a reputed dog training component like the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers). This is the best way to create a wide network and sharpen your skills further. ✅

Many companies arrange conferences and events to educate dog trainers about the latest training methods, where they can also share their own knowledge and previous work experience with others. Such meetings are also a great way to meet prospective hiring companies and expand your position in the industry.

Prepare a strong resume.

After finishing your training and gathering experience, you are now ready to apply for dog training jobs. A smartly written resume is important to attract prospective employers and create a unique position among other dog trainers. 

Make sure that your resume highlights all your knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise factors✅.

Education Requirements To Be A Dog Trainer

Dog trainers do not require any formal education, but most of them commonly have a bachelor’s degree. Research suggests only 40% of them are graduates, and 26% have a high school diploma. 

If you wish to graduate with a college degree before becoming a dog trainer, you can try getting into the University of Phoenix or the American University. Also, many aspiring candidates pursue a degree course in related subjects like animal science or animal care✅. 

Years of Experience Required To Be A Dog Trainer

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers or the CCPDT issues’ knowledge assessed’ certification to aspiring dog trainers. This validation is important for them to establish themselves as a professional, certified dog trainer so that their clients can trust their knowledge and expertise. 

Dog trainers are only eligible to receive this certification when they have a minimum of 300 hours of experience working as a dog trainer or have worked 75% of that time as a head trainer.✅

The CCPDT also issues ‘knowledge and skills assessed’ certification to dog trainers who have a minimum of 500 hours of experience as head trainers and have passed the final examination.

Responsibilities of A Dog Trainer

A dog trainer is assigned many responsibilities. Let us make a list of duties you might have to take as a dog trainer:

  • You will train dogs for specific activities like aiding blind people or detecting drugs and explosives.
  • You will observe dog practices within the home ambiance to point out possible issues and come up with tailored training methods for owners.
  • You will perform basic training duties like teaching basic commands to a dog, making them obedient, and finding out techniques to modify behavior
  • You will observe dogs owned while training to assess them and help them work on their techniques.
  • You will provide behavioral counseling to owners who have dogs with undies vale conduct, like being too aggressive towards other people or animals.
  • You will schedule a training program based on client requirements and training goals they wish to achieve for their dogs.
  • You will conduct puppy training sessions to help them socialize and learn obedience skills.
  • You will teach new owners the proper way to take care of their dogs, including feeding, grooming, and medicating them as per requirements.
  • You will train service dogs for disabled (blind/deaf) people or people with chronic health conditions.

Tips to Improve Your Career As A Dog Trainer

Why would potential clients want to hire you as a dog trainer? What skills will make you the best in business? Let’s make a list:

Marketing and entrepreneurial skills

Since most dog trainers are self-employed, they must know how to market their dog training business efficiently. Your biggest goal is to reach more people and find new clients. You have to maintain a steady pace of work if you want your business to bloom. ✅

Although, if you are working for an organization, for example, animal shelters or kennels, you might not bother about entrepreneurial techniques. In that case, the majority of your energy and time should be dedicated to working with dogs.

A keen wish to keep learning

Even professional dog trainers can continue their training at vocational schools if they want. You can start the cob without any formal training, but working on your knowledge and expertise in this field will be helpful in building a strong resume and getting more clients.⚡️

A polite and respectable approach

You will be communicating with many people as a dog trainer. You have to constantly be in touch with your regular clients and also attract new clients. Therefore, having a pleasant but firm personality is very important.

Knowledge of positive reinforcement techniques

Dogs generally respond better to positive reinforcement techniques. So, while training a dog, you have to be well-versed in these techniques and not choose punishment as your first approach✅. 

Top Schools For Dog Trainers in the United States

If you are an aspiring dog trainer hoping to receive formal education and training in this field, here are a few schools to look out for?:

Starmark Academy

Located in Hutto, Texas, their dog training course goes on for about 1-3 months. Courses like pet obedience (Theory and Application), special canine training, advanced dog behavior, and kennel control are available. The courses cost around $6700 to $11,800 on average.

School for Dog Trainers at Highland Canine Training LLC

Located in North Carolina and Alabama, their dog training course goes on for about 6-24 weeks. Courses like master dog training, obedience and behavior management, and service and detection dog training are available. The courses cost around $5600 to $17,700.

The Academy for Dog Trainers

With its head office in Emeryville, California, this institute has virtual programs around the world. Their dog training course is self-paced and can go on for up to two years. ?

Courses like psychotropic medication methods, behavior problem solving, body language and conflict variants, client counseling, and desensitization are available. The courses cost around $7500.

Catch Canine Trainers Academy

Located in Little Falls, New Jersey, their dog training courses are self-paced as well and can go on for up to 6-18 months. Courses like pro dog training, a master class on dog behavior and training, business management, and body language analysis are variable. The courses cost around $1200 to $5000. ⚡️

The Tom Rose School

Located in High Ridge, Missouri, their dog training courses go on for about 8-50 weeks, and there are various levels of dog training courses, including professional, master, ultimate, and service dog training courses. The courses cost around $7000 to $18,000.

Top Online Courses To Become A dog Trainer in the United States

Let us have a glance at the top online courses that aspiring dog trainers can avail of?: 

SIRIUS Dog Training

Initiated by Dr. Ian Dunbar in 1982, SIRIUS is one of the most famous puppy programs. SIRIUS Puppy And Dog Training now provides efficient online courses and educates dog trainers with modern-day training techniques. Unlike other pre-recorded video forms of online classes, SIRIUS provides students with a live classroom on Zoom.

Experienced trainers are available to host various classes like Puppy Kindergarten (I and II), Dog I, etc. The online classes that are completed in five sessions per week cost around $200. Each lesson runs for about an hour, and students can view all course details and schedules online✅.


Petco is already a big name in the pet supplies industry. But what most people are unaware of is that they also provide training facilities. The online services have been expanded recently and are available to aspiring dog trainers at an affordable price. 

For now, Petco has 3 Zoom classes that go on for four sessions, and every class costs around $130. Courses like Puppy Basics and Adult Basics are available so that dog trainers can learn everything from potty training to positive reinforcement to adapting to unfamiliar environments✅.

All Day Dog Adventures

All Day Dog Adventures doesn’t only provide basic puppy training and primary skills classes but also has courses like scent training and behavioral issue management. Students can fix their schedules independently and work with professional dog trainers online at the same time. 

The online courses start at a very low price of $100, and the sessions are conducted once a week. They are also planning to add therapy dog training and other related courses to their curriculum✅.

Where to find a dog trainer job opportunity online?

These are some of the common online platforms where you can easily find jobs after you’ve become a professionally trained and certified dog trainer?: 

Highland Canine Training

There are plenty of exciting job opportunities available in this organization, and interested candidates can apply online. They are one of the most popular canine training organizations in the U.S.

Enzo’s Dog Training

They not only offer training programs but also have amazing job prospects for candidates who finish their training and have an appreciable resume.


Among the most common online sites to find a job, LinkedIn is the best. You can search for a good job that suits your requirements and skills and apply accordingly.

Key Takeaways

You now have access to all important information about the dog training profession and what you have to do to become one. Professional and certified dog trainers are quite in demand in eth animal care industry, and if you are a pet lover, this is probably the best career choice for you.✅. 

It’s time to follow those steps, complete your training, get your certification, and start spreading love and joy to dogs! Maybe dogs will understand you better than anyone else ever did.

All the best for your new journey!?. 

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