How to Become a Dog Trainer

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Make a Positive Difference for Dogs and Their People

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

If you love and understand dogs, enjoy people and want to make a difference in others' lives, a career as a dog trainer could be fun and rewarding. Dog trainers help dogs learn basic commands or train them to perform specialized tasks that allow them to serve as therapy and service animals. Flexible hours and diverse work environments make it a family-friendly profession that enables you to make an income but still have the flexibility to volunteer at school or run errands during the day.

Job Description

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers spend their days teaching dogs and their people how to work together and communicate. People often bring puppies to a trainer to learn basic commands like sit, down, stay, come, heel and go potty. Other times, people have dogs with behavioral difficulties and need help curtailing behaviors like chasing cars, aggressiveness, leash pulling, jumping or excessive barking. People with disabilities sometimes need someone to train a service dog to be on the alert for medical issues, perform deep pressure therapy or call for emergency assistance.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers keep files and records for each dog, design training plans, communicate with handlers, follow safety protocols, assess dog performance and take dogs on outings to work on specific skills. Some dog trainers offer intensive one- to two-week training programs where dogs stay onsite to learn basic or advanced training in a short amount of time.

Education Requirements

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Experience is more important than education for dog trainers. Some community or technical colleges offer dog training certifications, and you might need a high school diploma or the equivalent to take those courses. However, the typical route to employment is through experience and internships. Begin with training your own dogs, then move on to volunteering, internships, paid positions with other trainers and employment with service dog organizations, such as Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Industry

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers often work in pet stores, animal shelters, community colleges, community recreation programs, 4-H clubs or dog boarding facilities. Some dog trainers work independently through their own offices and are able to offer individual training packages in addition to group training classes. In all environments, trainers spend time both inside and outdoors and are active and on their feet. Hours can be flexible and varied, with client appointments during the day, evening or weekend.

Years of Experience

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Animal trainers earn a median annual wage of $27,690, which means that half of dog trainers earn more than this, while the other half earn less. The bottom 10 percent earn less than $18,740, while the top 10 percent earn more than $58,050.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Years of experience, reputation and community demand influence pay for dog trainers. Those who work for large organizations are more likely to get benefits with pay. If you work independently, you might need to buy your own benefits or rely on another family member to provide them for you and your children. Here is one example of how a dog trainer's salary could increase with time and reputation:

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

  • Entry-Level: $19,356 to $48,801
  • Mid-Career: $20,434 to $70,585

Job Growth Trend

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Dog trainers are in high demand and make a difference for dogs and their people. Learn through experience to help people and dogs communicate and live together well.

Demand for animal care and service workers, including dog trainers, is expected to grow more than 20 percent through 2026, which is much faster than in other industries. Demand is due to an increasing number of pets and people who are willing to pay money to care for and train them. Dogs are more than animals to most people, and they become important members of the family worthy of investment, care, time and attention.