If you love dogs and aspire to become an entrepreneur, why not combine the two and start your own dog-training business?
Think about it.
Opening a business where your main customers are dogs means you will be spending more time working with your favorite animals in the entire world.
While opening a dog training business may not sound like the easiest task – because of the fierce competition out there, this doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try, especially now.
From what statistics show, opening a business on dog training in 2023 is an excellent choice to consider. Ever since the outset of the pandemic, dog adopting rates have increased, and dog training is gathering promising demand and attention.
And according to Grand View Research, the global pet care sector alone is estimated to reach $202 billion dollars by 2025!
Interested in opening a business to help train a man’s best friend? Here’s how…
Starting Your Dog Training Business In 5 Steps
Starting a business can be a piece of cake once you commit yourself to follow a plan. Like anything else that needs careful thought, becoming an entrepreneur, first requires you to determine which steps you need to take.
Let’s go through each step to help you start your own dog training business in no time.
Step 1: Choose A Dog Training Area Of Expertise
Before you are ready to hang that ‘Ready for Business’ sign on the door, you need to decide which area of expertise you will focus on as a dog trainer.
Determining your niche should help you choose the educational path you need to take and then set your business goals, mission, and brand message in place.
There are many methods of dog training, but these are the most popular:
- Positive reinforcement
- Scientific training
- Clicker training
- Electronic training
- Mirror teaching
Apart from these, there are also specific areas of training you should consider like:
- Teaching general obedience and manners
- Delivering puppy training
- Carrying out behavioral training
- Working with aggressive or reactive dogs
- Training therapy, service, or emotional support dogs
- Offering dog sport training (agility, obedience, protection sports, flyball, herding)
- Helping dogs with phobias, fears, or separation anxiety
- Offering adventure training
Comparing these types and methods of dog training, it seems that the best way to start as a dog training business owner is teaching puppies and general obedience before moving to the most demanding areas of dog sport or behavioral training.
Step 2: Get Certified
It takes more than being a dog owner to become a dog training professional. As a certified dog trainer, you will have the proper skills and knowledge to offer dog training services that respond to their needs.
While there are no formal education requirements to enter the field, the more experience you have with taking care, handling, and training dogs the better your chances are to get into a dog training course and excel in your career.
These are some prominent dog training programs you can work towards getting a certification as listed by The Balance Careers:
- Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)
- International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
- Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP)
- Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor (CBATI)
- International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)
- National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI)
- Karen Pryor Academy (KPR)
Requirements for these certification programs vary but most will expect you to complete up to 300 hours of training work or have a minimum of 5 years of experience in the field, attend relevant classes, complete coursework, and take exams.
If you don’t have the experience you need to become certified, you can always work as an assistant dog trainer at a dog training school or an animal shelter for some time.
Having a professional body membership is sometimes a necessity to get certified too. It also helps to stay up to date with the industry news.
Step 3: Decide Which Services Your Dog Training Business Will Offer
Once you decide on your niche and get the certification you need, you will have to decide which services you will offer and in what way.
Are you going to be offering private training or group training? Also, will you be renting or buying a training facility or offering training online?
There are both cons and pros for each type of training, but the main difference is the expenses involved.
For example, renting physical space for your business will cost you much more compared to starting an online school for dog training. Given the Covid-19 circumstances, offering online classes seems to be the most cost-effective option allowing to carry out private and group sessions with dog owners. The good news is that more people are embracing online training and are becoming comfortable with it.
If you prefer to offer day training or board-and-train services, you will need to have a physical space where you will actually meet the dogs and work with them in person instead of offering online instruction to their owners.
Either way, you need to prepare to come in contact with people to offer consultation, tips, and advice on changing their lifestyle so that it matches the training needs of their favorite pets.
Lastly, consider what other services or products you would like to offer. Pet care products always come in handy but so is having a vet around – or in your contacts list, to provide them the appropriate healthcare.
If you are planning to offer training for dog owners, or teach them how to do it yourself, then, you will probably need an online learning platform to host your training program.
Step 4: Register Your Business
Registering a business differs depending on where you live or thinking about opening your business – state or country. Regardless of that though, getting your business up and running is relatively the same across industries.
1. Decide on the type of business
Decide what type of business you need e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Out of these, the LLC and corporation are the most suitable for your niche and can protect you in case of any potential legal charges coming from customers.
2. Get those permits and licenses
The overall costs to build a dog training business are minimal and you only need a phone and computer to communicate with clients. However, you will need to get the permits and licenses you need to operate your business with or without having a physical space to work at. That might include fees for a lawyer and/or an accountant.
Obtaining these documents is essential, and failure to do so might result in paying big fines or shutting down your business altogether.
3. Register for taxes
Paying taxes is not the most enjoyable part of owning a business, but they are important. Make sure to register for taxes before opening your business. If you are in the US, there are some state and federal taxes you need to register for, but also get your employer ID number – EIN.
Once it’s settled, set up an accounting department or hire a freelance accountant to take care of the accounting aspects of the business and organize those money exchanges, calculate the taxes, expenses, and profits.
4. Set up a business bank account
If you haven’t yet done so, you will need to set up a business bank account and separate it from your personal one.
A business bank account will protect the assets you have on your personal bank account and avoid the possibility of having them mixed up with your business. This offers a more effective way to manage your business finances, but also gives you more control over beneficiaries that can come with building your business credit, like better interest rates or funding opportunities.
5. Choose your company name wisely
Don’t forget to choose a name for your business that reflects you and the personality you want to bring out. This has more to do with branding – which means you have to think about color combinations and typography for your website, but it’s also essential to come up with a name that resonates with your business goals and mission.
6. Decide on the price
Before you put a price tag on your services, make sure to conduct research to see what are the pricing trends in your industry. Finding the optimal price on the product or service you are offering, will help you increase your chances of selling it.
According to HomeGuide, the average costs of dog training are $30 to $80 per class, with most dog owners willing to pay up to $50. However, pricing varies depending on the type of training you provide e.g. private or group as well as the method of training e.g. obedience and training service or therapy dogs:
- Private classes: $45 – $120 per class
- Group classes: $30 – $50 per class
- Obedience classes: $35 – $75 per day
- Boot camp: $500 – $1,250 per week
- Service dog training: $120 per hour
To meet the needs of diverse customers, it might be a good idea to offer training packages that include a combination of these services, or different tiers and training difficulty levels.
Step 5: Market Your Dog Training Business
Marketing is often a neglected side of any business endeavor, but you shouldn’t treat it as such. Once you decide on your target market (which has to match your niche), you need to understand the needs of your customers, and then come up with innovative ways to present the solution to their problems.
Every business is unique and you need to show how yours stands out from the competition by coming up with a value proposition.
For your dog training business, the best ways to promote your services are:
- Building a strong online presence with a website
- Making use of social media (pages, communities, support groups)
- Working with affiliates and referrals
- Networking and word of mouth
- Utilizing email as your key communication tool
These marketing strategies are not only effective but also sustainable, which can guarantee the long-term success of your business. Start by choosing a good domain name for your business and create a website whose name address is memorable and easy to find on a Google search.
3 Successful Dog Training Business Examples
Not sure how to get your dog training business started? Check out what these dog training schools are doing to find some inspiration:
1. Think Like a Dog
Think Like a Dog or TLAD, has built an online university to help dog owners train their dogs through the help of online courses. Their training programs come with a series of videos that are easy-to-understand, audio and text formatted lessons, practical advice and demonstrations, discussion boards, support groups, and a certificate of completion. Their dog training services range from puppy training to service dog and behavior adjustment training.
2. Canine Principles
Canine Principles has everything your canine friend needs. With over 50 online courses and workshops available to dog owners, the school focuses on provisioning the health and wellbeing of dogs and comes with free learning opportunities for those who want to try it out. Apart from courses, the school gives people access to a community of 8000 industry professionals which is perfect for networking and getting more tips and advice.
3. Blackthorn Academy
Blackthorn Academy is specializing in gundog training, working mainly with retrievers. The academy’s service responds well to unique target market demand – hunters and hunting enthusiasts. Training resources come through online courses on different levels, ebooks, webinars, and video exercises. The business also provides on-site training service for those who need it.
Ready To Start Your Own Dog Training Business?
Starting a dog training business can be both exciting and challenging, especially in the beginning.
But once you get your license and take care of all the company-related procedures, invest in your brand, and promote your business the right way, your business idea will open up huge financial opportunities coming your way.
The best part of all of your efforts is that you will get to put your love of dogs into practice. Good luck!
Kyriaki Raouna is a Content Creator for LearnWorlds, writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.