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How Much Do Dog Trainers Make a Year?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Dog trainers in the U.S. can earn an enviable salary if they work hard and are close to a significant population of pet owners. The field is expected to grow significantly in the future. If you wonder how much do dog trainers make, according to 2018 statistics from Glassdoor, the average base pay of a dog trainer is $25,723 per annum. Other estimates, which include independent dog trainers as well as salaried trainers, put the average as high as $37,000. The outlook for dog trainer wages is strong and expected to grow by 11 percent over the next 10 years. If you love dogs, love helping pets and their people overcome challenges, and have a personable manner and a lot of patience, you might be right for a career as a dog trainer.

Tip

The average base pay of a dog trainer is $25,723 per annum or about $12 per hour, but it can be much more.

Don't be discouraged by the relatively low annual average. It can go much higher. If you are one of the top 10 dog trainers in the country, you can earn vastly more. Ask Cesar Millan how far up it can go. According to his divorce papers, the world's most famous dog trainer pulls in $170,000 per month.

Dog Trainer Duties

Dog trainer duties include analyzing each dog, including breed, temperament, home situation, history and health; creating a plan for the needed training, and meeting with the dog (and possibly the owners) for a weekly training session. You might teach in groups, or you might teach one-on-one. Training might require you to travel to the dog's residence for individual lessons, so you need transportation, or the owners might drop off the dog with you, in which case you need space, poop bags and water bowls.

For anything other than basic training, the trainer is expected to provide all the equipment necessary – obstacles for agility training, sheep for herding training, harnesses for skijoring, balls for catch and so on. Because behavior problems can often be traced to the owners, a good dog trainer requires tact as well as empathy to communicate with clients for a successful outcome.

Employee or Entrepreneur: Dog Trainer Salary

Some dog trainers are independent contractors, one-person businesses hustling and handling all their own marketing, but many dog trainers work on salary for companies or another trainer. It's up to you to decide which is right for you. Keep in mind that for solo entrepreneurs, income can be unpredictable, particularly at the beginning of running your business. Working for a guaranteed wage for someone else's company is a good way to build up experience and contacts before or instead of launching out on your own. You also know what to expect every payday.

Top dog trainers in a given region can earn considerably more than the average – up to six figures. You can grow your income as a dog trainer by going out on your own and hiring subcontractors if there is enough business to justify it. You can become an expert with the corresponding reputation and recognized dog trainer qualifications. Top dog trainers can set their own price and tend to specialize in fields such as police dog training, field trial or show training, or serious behavior modification.

To be a successful independent dog trainer, you need a good marketing package including website, business cards, and flyers or door hangers, all featuring an attractive dog training logo and business name that identify what you do. Marketing doesn't have to be expensive. Programs such as Word make it easy for you to create your own marketing materials.

Dog training as an employee has a low barrier to entry. You must be good with pets and people. You must know some of the basics of popular training methods such as click training and crate training, and you must be reliable and patient. With additional certifications, experience and a growing reputation, your income should rise over time. The demand for good dog trainers is only getting stronger, particularly in cities with significant residential suburbs. One day you may launch your own dog training company, and you'll set your own rate. With the growing popularity of pets and today's busy lifestyles, the field of dog training is one with a bright future.

About the Author

Lorraine Murphy has been writing on business, self-employment, and marketing since the turn of the 21st century. Her credits include Vanity Fair, the Guardian, Slate, Salon, Occupational Pursuit Magazine, the Daily Download, and Business in Vancouver. She has been a judge and mentor at Vancouver Startup Weekend multiple times, and is an in-demand keynote speaker.

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