How to Become a Professional Dog Trainer

Dear Adam:

Sorry to keep bothering you. I am really interested in becoming a professional dog trainer. I was looking on the web and I found a school that has a home study course. I am getting married in March and I don’t have the time to attend a school for 4-8 weeks. I was wondering if you could give me some input on this school I found. The name is [deleted] Inc. It sounds like a good idea. I just want to have some kind of certificate to show potential clients.

I just wanted to let you know that your videos are fantastic.

I have only had them for a week now and my 14 month-old Boxer is responding beautifully. Today, while at work, I met a lady with a Beagle/Pointer pup. Totally out of control. She bet me that I couldn’t make him sit/stay. Of course after watching your videos I took the challenge. Within 5 minutes I had him in a sit/stay with her neighbors Boxer running all around him. Thanks to that, I have my first client. I couldn’t have done it without your videos.


Adam’s response:

Uh… watch those fingers, dude.  (See article titled, “Dog Trainer Lost Finger!”)

I appreciate the kind words about my videos, but my videos were designed to teach YOU how to train your own dog. Teaching dog training professionally requires much more expertise and experience than you can get from a set of videos.

The following is clipped from another article I wrote on the subject:

If I had to do it all over again, my advice would be to join every dog training club in your area.  Go to every meeting.  Start watching and seeing who’s dogs are really working.

Then, make friends with those people (they’ll usually be professionals with their own dog training businesses) and offer to work for free in exchange for mentorship.


If doing this is geographically impossible, then I would consider taking an extended vacation and moving to an area that has a lot of  “dog activity.”  You’ll have to do some research to figure out which towns are best for the type of training that you want to focus on.


Seminars are another good route.  If you subscribe to a number of activity-oriented publications (such as Schutzhund, obedience competition, etc…) you’ll find out when the better seminars are coming to your neck of the woods.


As a last resort, you might consider some of the dog training “trade” schools.  Be careful to thoroughly research the ones you are considering.  You should be ready to visit the facility and talk with past students.  The internet can be a wonderful tool for putting you in touch with people who have attended the school that you are considering.

If you’d like to learn more about the business of starting and operating your own dog training company, take a look at:

Good luck,