How to become a dog trainer

Here’s a 5-step guide to becoming a dog trainer.

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Do you love dogs and think you’d make an excellent dog trainer? A career in dog training offers many rewards and challenges. Here’s an overview of steps you can take to become a dog trainer. Find out what to expect and learn about what it takes to get started in this career.  

What does a dog trainer do?

A dog trainer conducts obedience training, house training, and advanced skills like agility courses. Dog trainers may also do the following: 

  • Identifying and correcting problematic behaviour like separation anxiety, excessive barking, and biting 

  • Working with a veterinarian to mitigate fear in reactive dogs or dogs with separation anxiety 

  • Teaching pet owners how to train their own dogs 

How to become a dog trainer in Australia 

First, you’ll need to learn the concepts and hone your dog training skills. 

Step 1: Understand how dogs learn. 

Learn the basics of animal behaviour and dog training techniques. For example, knowing how classical conditioning works can help you adapt to different situations and dog personalities. 

Humans and dogs are very different creatures, so it’s up to dog trainers to try to “meet dogs halfway” by understanding how and why they may behave a certain way. 

Read up on animal behaviour and dog training for every personality. Also, learn various techniques and hand signals for dog training. 


Step 2: Take a dog training course. 

woman taking dog training class

Take your dog training skills to the next level by enrolling in dog training classes. You can become a certified dog trainer by finding a local training program that offers certification. After completing your course and getting certified, you can include your dog training certifications in your credentials. 

Check out these website to learn more about professional dog training certifications:

Step 3: Be an apprentice for a certified dog trainer. 

Learning under the supervision of a professional trainer is the fastest way to hone your skills. A dog trainer can monitor your technique while you work with different dogs. Are you hoping to connect with a dog trainer willing to take you on as an apprentice? Find a dog trainer in your area by posting a task on Airtasker. 

ultimate guide to dog care Also read: Your Ultimate Guide to Dog Care – Everything you need to know about caring for a dog, from grooming to training 

Step 4: Practice your dog training skills.

When it comes to the more “technical” side of dog training, you need to learn about hand signals, reward systems, and voice commands. You may also need to teach pet owners how to do all these properly, so they can train their dogs at home and establish a routine. 

Train your own dog. 

Once you’ve learned some training concepts, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test! A good first step is training your own dog. You can teach your dog basic commands like “sit” or “down.” Clicker training is also straightforward to learn. 

woman training her labrador dog on a field

Over time, you can step it up by training your dog to stay put even with distance and distractions. You can also move on to advanced tricks like spinning around, closing the door, and walking off-leash. Training your own dog should build up your confidence in taking clients for pet training. 

Since you’ll be working with non-humans, you’ll also need to develop your patience and communication skills. Training dogs will undoubtedly stretch your patience and prompt you to find better ways to communicate. 

Train your friends’ and family’s dogs.

Before you try to get paying clients, you can offer free training sessions to develop your dog training skills. If you have friends or family members with dogs, ask if you can try teaching the dogs a couple of tricks. You can also volunteer at local shelters, doggie daycares, or pet shops to practice dealing with different dogs.  

woman training two Australian Shepherd dogs at a dog training ground

Once you’re confident with the dogs you see regularly, it’s time to meet new furry clients! After all, working as a dog trainer means getting to know new pets all the time. 

Step 5: Find dog training jobs in your area. 

Once you’re ready to take on clients, you can sign up on Airtasker to start finding dog training jobs near you. Start with simple dog training tasks and gain experience as you go. Customer ratings and reviews will help you establish yourself as a dog trainer.

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FAQs on becoming a dog trainer

You don’t need formal qualifications to become a dog trainer, as this industry is unregulated in Australia and many other countries. But a basic animal training course can give you the foundational knowledge and skills in this profession. Certification can also boost your credibility and attract clients. 

Some dog training courses take 6 to 12 months to complete, depending on whether you’re taking the course part-time or full-time. You can study independently, take apprenticeships, or do volunteer work at your own pace. In some instances, you may need to render hundreds of hours of dog training experience before getting certified.

According to Salary Expert, the average dog trainer salary in Australia is around $54,000 a year. For group dog training classes, trainers charge $30 to $120 per session. Dog trainer rates can vary depending on the clients’ needs. Our dog training cost guide can give you a more detailed overview of how much you can earn as a dog trainer.  

Assistance dog trainers need to complete a Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services or Dog Training. They’ll also need on-the-job training with an organisation accredited by Assistance Dogs International. You can also train an assistance dog even if you’re not a professional trainer, but your dog will have to pass the Public Access Test (PAT) to be approved as an assistance dog. 

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