How to become a dog trainer

You can also find dog training jobs to grow your skills.

Find dog training jobs near you

So you want to learn how to become a dog trainer! This exciting career path holds many challenges – and a lot of rewarding experiences. Ready your passion, patience, and your love for dogs, and let’s get straight to learning about dog training. 

What does a dog trainer do? 

Before you learn how to become a certified dog trainer, go back to the basics. Find out what a dog trainer is expected to do. 

In general, dog trainers should be able to do the following: 

  • Conduct obedience training, house training, and advanced skills like agility courses. Some professional dog trainers may also cover training for therapy dogs, law enforcement dogs, and search and rescue teams. 

  • Help identify and correct problematic behaviour like separation anxiety, excessive barking, and biting 

  • Help dogs deal with different situations, such as grooming sessions or staying with a pet sitter

  • Help pet owners become good trainers for their pets 

How to become a dog trainer 

Step 1: Study animal behaviour

The first and most crucial part of becoming a dog trainer is understanding animal behaviour. Humans and dogs are very different creatures, which is why it’s up to dog trainers to try to “meet dogs halfway” by understanding how and why they may behave a certain way. 

unruly puppy sitting in the middle of torn clothes

To do this, look up books, podcasts, webinars, and other reliable resources that tackle animal personality and conditioning. Also, read up on how to reinforce a dog’s good behaviour, as well as how to identify and resolve behavioural issues. 

Step 2: Build your dog training knowledge and skills 

Learn various training techniques, such as clicker training and relationship-based training. As you explore these teaching styles, you may also find that you’ll form a “philosophy” of sorts when training pets. 

Develop your teaching style 

Not all dog trainers recommend dominance-based training or negative reinforcement, and not all pet owners may want those methods, either. Coming up with your training techniques can help you find ideal clients in the future with the same views on dog training.  

woman practicing paw command with Beagle in the park

Hone soft skills as a dog trainer 

Besides teaching philosophy, you also need to look into learning strategies, problem-solving skills, and monitoring skills. And since you’re 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. 

Learn technical skills in dog training  

When it comes to the more “technical” side of dog training, you need to learn about hand signals, reward systems, and voice commands. You’ll also need to train pet owners how to do all these properly, so they can achieve the results they want.

Step 3: Train your own dog 

woman training her labrador dog on a field

Once you’ve learned about dog behaviour and how to train dogs properly, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test! Start with the basics, like establishing a reliable recall and teaching your dog to high-five or sit. Then, work your way up 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. 

Step 4: Train dogs of your friends and family 

Before you try your luck with 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: Take local dog training classes 

woman taking dog training class

Take your dog training skills to the next level by enrolling in local dog training classes. You can become a certified dog trainer by finding a local dog training program that offers certification. Some courses take only 6 to 12 weeks. After completing your course and getting certified, you can include your dog training certifications in your credentials. 

Check out the Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK to learn more about taking this next step in your dog training career. 

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 

Dog trainer salary 

According to Glassdoor, the average dog trainer's salary range in the UK is between £18,877 to £38,543 per year as of June 2022. Dog training can be one of the most profitable hobbies during lockdown (thanks to many people becoming pet owners). But dog training isn’t necessarily a high-paying gig. Still, if you have the passion for dog training and the flexibility to pursue it, becoming a dog trainer can be an incredibly fulfilling job. 

Find dog training jobs with Airtasker! 

Curious about the demand for dog trainers in your community? This dog training cost guide gives you an overview of your earning potential as a dog trainer. And if you’re ready to build your dog training career, you can become a Tasker and start finding dog training jobs near you on Airtasker. 

Browse and complete jobs.

Create your profile and start browsing jobs in minutes

FAQs on how to be a dog trainer

Training to become a dog trainer can take anywhere from six months to three years, especially if you’re looking to get certified. You can study on your own and take up apprenticeships or do volunteer work at your own pace. Some reputable organisations may require you to render hundreds of hours of experience and pass a written test before you earn certification.

Getting a mentor who can train you is one way to learn how to become a therapy dog trainer. A certified dog trainer can walk you through the process, what you need to know, and career options in this field. Another option is to sign up for private training via formal organisations or institutions specialising in therapy dogs.

Becoming a service dog trainer requires understanding both animal behaviour and the experience of persons with disabilities (PWDs). This is a specialised course with many requirements that you can look up on the National Careers Service website. You can usually find service dog trainer programs at higher education institutions like universities.

Training to become a dog trainer can take anywhere from six months to three years, especially if you’re looking to get certified. You can study on your own and take up apprenticeships or do volunteer work at your own pace. Some reputable organisations may require you to render hundreds of hours of experience and pass a written test before you earn certification.

Becoming a service dog trainer requires understanding both animal behaviour and the experience of persons with disabilities (PWDs). This is a specialised course with many requirements that you can look up on the National Careers Service website. You can usually find service dog trainer programs at higher education institutions like universities.

Getting a mentor who can train you is one way to learn how to become a therapy dog trainer. A certified dog trainer can walk you through the process, what you need to know, and career options in this field. Another option is to sign up for private training via formal organisations or institutions specialising in therapy dogs.