How to become a dog trainer

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

Find dog training jobs near you

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 the steps you can take to become a dog trainer. Find out what to expect and learn 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

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

Dog training classes can take your skills and knowledge to the next level. You can look up organisations offering dog trainer certification; Some of them offer online courses. 

Below are some reputable organisations you can check out: 

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. 

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.

woman training two Australian Shepherd dogs at a dog training ground

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.  

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. 

Create your profile and start browsing jobs in minutes

Start earning now

FAQs on becoming a dog trainer

You don’t need formal qualifications to become a dog trainer. But a basic animal training course can give you a good foundation in this career. Certification and on-the-job experience can also increase your job prospects. 

A dog training course may last a few days up to several weeks. For example, the IMDT dog trainer course only takes two days to complete. Generally, how long it takes to get certified will vary depending on the program and your availability. 

The average dog trainer salary is around £28,000 per year in the United Kingdom, according to Glassdoor. Typically, dog trainers on Airtasker charge £20 to £70 per session. However, dog trainer rates vary depending on the type of training. You can learn more about dog training rates from our cost guide. 

You can join a trainee program or work towards an assistance dog trainer diploma. Apprenticeship and on-the-job training can also help you become a service dog trainer. This profession may require years of learning about kennel work, dog health, and obedience training techniques. You can also benefit from personal experience with people who can be helped by service dogs. For example, sign language skills will be handy when training hearing dogs. 

Related articles

Related price guides

Let's do this!