Should you consider a career in dog training?

If you have a strong connection with animals, have a curious spirit and enjoy helping both dogs and people, the short answer is…YES! Absolutely! Dog training is a great career on its own. It can also be a fantastic opportunity to expand your expertise as a pet professional.

If you’re looking for a career that allows you to—

  • make a BIG impact on the quality of life for dogs and their owners
  • get paid to work and have fun with pups EVERY DAY
  • be viewed and respected as an expert
  • never have another dull day at work again
  • take charge of your own schedule

—then dog training may be a great career match for you!

Launching a career in dog training or switching careers to become a trainer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Here are some things to consider while deciding whether dog training is right for you.

Is dog training in high demand?

This is an important question to ask when you’re considering a new career. If there’s no market out there for you to tap into, you’ll find success elusive no matter how passionate you are about starting a business.

However, the dog training and behavior industry is growing, providing new opportunities around the globe for both aspiring trainers and established pet professionals looking to expand their services. This is especially true for people who live in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. In fact, Google Trends reports the search term “dog trainer” has risen significantly in the United States since mid-2020.

The frequency and number of people searching for good dog trainers indicates the demand is there to sustain profitable new dog training businesses or for new trainers to find employment at local dog training facilities.

But don’t limit yourself geographically. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that almost every service can be made available online.

In the pre-pandemic world, people usually looked in their local area to find dog training classes. But as COVID-19 shut down in-person services, dog trainers logged online to help owners everywhere train their pets.

No matter where you live in the world, if you’ve been considering a career in dog training, the opportunity is there to help fill the high demand by offering training services both in-person and online.

Should I change my career to become a dog trainer?

Changing careers sounds scary, right?!  Don’t fear a switch that in your heart of hearts you know is right for you. Ultimately, you deserve to spend your life doing work that MATTERS to you.

Before taking the leap, ask yourself a few questions.

1. What are my main reasons for wanting to go into dog training?

It’s understandable to want to ditch a job you are unhappy with. But running away from your current career is very different from running passionately forward into a new profession. Be sure to look closely at what you are keeping or giving up when you change careers.

Think about the things you enjoy in your current job.

  • Do you have an awesome work environment?
  • Are you head-over-heels for the clients you work with?
  • Do you enjoy working on a team?
  • Do the company benefits you have help make you feel secure?

List everything you find important in your current career and/or company. Use this list as a guide to stay aligned with the type of work and culture you’ve found that you enjoy.

Once you have a list of the things you like about your current work, consider how they may look in the world of dog training.

  • Will you still have those aspects as a dog trainer?
  • Will there be even more opportunity to do the things you enjoy?
  • Will you be happier working more independently?
  • Are there other benefits you look forward to in a new career as a dog trainer that outweigh what you currently have?

Seeing all this on paper can help you dig into your motivation for changing careers. Before you make a move, consider your why. Why dog training? And why now?

Once you are clear on your motivation for change, dip your toes into the field of dog training and see how you like it. Unlike many careers, learning to be a dog trainer can be managed easily on nights and weekends. You can try it out before making a huge, life-altering decision to leave your day job.

2. How much do I need to make to meet my financial goals?

No matter how passionate you are, how much you love working with dogs, or how eager you are to share your dog knowledge with the world, you need to make enough money to be financially secure.

Get a good grip on your finances. Here are some money questions to consider—

  • How much do you need to make each month to sustain yourself?
  • How much would you want to make each month?
  • Are you planning for your retirement?
  • Are you currently paying off debt?
  • Do you have a little cushion in case finding a job or building your clientele takes a bit of time?
  • Are there other considerations or financial obligations you foresee in the future?

Get real about money. Think about the financial position you’re in today and where you want to be.

Being a dog trainer, especially working independently or taking on clients on the side, offers a lot of flexibility and little to no income cap. It’s quite possible to move into the six-figure range with the right dog training know-how, business skills, and determination.

If you’re curious to learn more, check out “How Much Do Dog Trainers Make (And Ways to Keep Income Growing).”  In it, we highlight the financials of dog training so you can better understand the nuances of running your own dog training business.

3. Can I leverage my current network to jumpstart my career?

Whether you are currently a pet professional or are in an entirely unrelated profession, chances are good that there are people in your network who can help you launch your dog training career.

As you peruse your social, professional and family networks, look for people who:

  • currently work in or have worked in the pet industry.
  • anyone who has started their own business, regardless of the industry.
  • people who have made a name for themselves in their chosen profession.
  • anyone who owns or loves dogs!

These people can give you valuable insight into—

  • the pet industry.
  • entrepreneurship and business.
  • what it takes to become an recognized expert.
  • their own experience as a dog owner seeking help with dog training.

You’ll also want to connect with professional dog trainers. Chances are they will be glad to answer questions about their field. They may even let you shadow them to watch as they interact with their clients and the dogs. Or, with their permission, you may be able to join one of their tele-training sessions.

If you need help widening your network, The Victoria Stilwell Academy has graduates who are happy to talk to prospective students. We can also connect you with experts and mentors with The Dog Trainer Course In-Person Track. This expansion of our Dog Trainer Course includes live in-person learning with Victoria and other faculty, and a mentorship with a local trainer you can shadow at home.

Getting some real exposure to the industry can help you determine quickly if it’s the right path for you. Ask all the questions you need to feel more confident about your decision to become a dog trainer.

4. How can I develop the skills to be a dog trainer?

Dog training is a constantly evolving industry. If you enjoy learning new things and keeping up with advances in dog training and behavior, it will be a rewarding career choice.

Dog training is an exciting field where you can be with dogs all day long, be respected as an expert AND make a big difference in the lives of owners and their pets… all while getting paid.

Of course, before launching a business or applying for open positions, you’ll want to get the basics of dog training down. If you’re leaning towards YES, dog training is the right career for me, enroll in one of our FREE starter courses. Get a taste of what you’ll need to know to get started as a dog trainer today.