How to Become a Dog Obedience Trainer

Working with dogs can be an extremely rewarding career, particularly when you can make a difference in a dog’s life. Those who are passionate about working with dogs, and eager to enter into a profession that offers tremendous opportunity, now have another very appealing option. Becoming a dog obedience trainer provides a satisfying career that includes job stability and competitive pay for years to come.


Communicating with dogs is a unique skill that is in high demand. Currently, there is estimated to be 89.7 million dogs within the United States. That has translated into a booming pet industry that has evolved into a $75 billion annual market. The growing number of pet owners means that there is an increased demand for services that focus on dog behavior. As a result, dog obedience trainers are being sought all over the United States. Getting started on that future can begin right away with options that pave the way towards a very lucrative career.

Dog Obedience Trainer Salary And Job Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies dog obedience trainers under the distinction of animal trainers. Their average annual wage, as a group, as of May 2019, is $36,240.  However, dog obedience trainers often earn annual salaries that are higher than those of other animal trainers. The average annual salary for dog obedience trainers in some states exceed the national average, with some going over $40,000 annually. Dog obedience trainers have high earning potential, which is typically determined by the type of facility and level of experience of the trainer. Top-end dog obedience trainers can expect to earn as much as $53,000 on a yearly basis.

Many dog obedience services demand a generous hourly rate. Private clients normally pay hourly rates starting at $30, but they can also go all the way up to $150 per hour. Dog obedience trainers looking to maximize their financial earning potential can seek out private instruction as a means of pulling in a lucrative yearly salary.

The job prospects for dog obedience trainers are increasing each year. From 2019 to 2029, a whopping 22 percent growth is expected in the field of animal care and service workers.  The American Pet Products Association reports that in 2019, training, sitting, walking and services outside of veterinary care generated $10.3 billion in sales. The surge in dog adoptions in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, is also expected to propel the dog obedience training industry to even greater profits. All of this means that the job of dog obedience trainer is quite secure and is expected to remain so for years to come.

Dog Obedience Trainer Job Duties

There are different varieties of dog training available. That extends to basic puppy training for young dogs and also includes basic obedience training for older dogs. Some owners enter dogs into competition, which requires obedience training for that specific task. Meanwhile, companion dogs are required to undergo a specific kind of training that is unique to that distinction. Search and rescue dogs also have specialized training regimens.

Dog obedience training also involves the element of teaching dogs how to interact with their owners. There are a variety of techniques used to develop the owner-dog relationship. This training involves constant communication and reinforcement. Some obedience training is rather simple while it can also grow to be rather complex. The AKC has adapted a CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Test that is a basic standard for dog behavior. The overall duties of a dog obedience trainer involve a high level of understanding, patience and communication. When used correctly, these techniques can change the entire lives of dogs and their owners.

Dog Obedience Trainer Certification

Individual states do not require dog obedience trainers to pass a certification test or obtain a license in order to begin working in this profession. However, certifications lend more credibility to dog trainers as they are a way of solidifying their overall knowledge base and experience. To become certified, one must complete the standards set by the facility or association that is issuing the certification. Since there is no universal certification, the requirements differ according to each individual dog obedience trainer program.

Certifications are knowledge based, but typically require a certain amount of actual experience in the area of actually training dogs. Since dog training is a hands-on profession, it helps to have some actual experience. This experience is offered through many training programs. Selecting a certification program is up to each individual, although it helps to choose one that is well rounded. Some of the certification agencies available for dog obedience trainers include:

Dog obedience trainer certifications serve multiple purposes. First, it provides trainers with a working knowledge of the job and also gives them valuable hands-on experience. It is also important to note that there is a premium placed on certifications by much of the general public. Dog owners tend to be more inclined to hire dog obedience trainers that can show some form of valid certification. This typically provides them with a sense of security. Some employers may also favor job applicants who hold a certification, which improves the chances of landing a quality job.

Certification programs do not last particularly long and are typically completed between six months and a year. There are no prior educational requirements needed to begin a certification program. Apprenticeships are also available, although that option usually requires establishing a relationship with a specific business that features this type of service.

Where Dog Obedience Trainers Work

Dog obedience trainers can find work in numerous settings. Some training is limited to just the trainer and the dog, while other training involves the owner as well. Instruction can be provided in a one-on-one setting. However, dog obedience training is also frequently conducted in a group setting as dog obedience trainers can find worker teaching those classes. Group instruction of this nature is available through pet stores and various community locations. Local listings provide the availability of these kinds of classes where multiple dogs are taught at once.

Individual dog obedience training is available through dog training schools that specialize in offering this kind of service. Dog owners can visit these facilities or arrange for in-home training provided by a dog obedience trainer. Kennels and animal shelters also employ dog obedience trainers. Some dog obedience trainers venture out on their own and offer private instruction to clients on an individual basis. The title of behavior consultant is also one that can be assumed by an experienced dog obedience trainer.

Continuing Education For Dog Obedience Trainers

If you receive certification from a dog obedience training organization,  you will likely need to fulfill continuing education requirements in order to maintain that certification. Even if you are not certified, dog obedience training is a field that involves a continual devotion to learning. Dog obedience trainers are constantly learning new techniques and tips. Workshops and seminars provide a valuable learning tool as dog obedience trainers can always upgrade their skill level. There is a vast array of continuing education programs available throughout the year. Although these are not mandatory, they can strengthen the abilities of any dog obedience trainer.


The Association of Professional Dog Trainers

This association offers useful information for dog trainers, pet owners and those who may be looking to learn more about the growing field of dog obedience training.

American Kennel Club

This nationally renowned organization offers a host of resources, which include types of dog therapy, along with the latest news, research and calendar of events.

National K-9 Dog Trainers’ Association

This association offers courses and certifications for those who are looking to become actual members and take advantage of the specifics of this program.

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

This is the certifying board for veterinarians who have received special training in the behavioral health of animals.

Best Friends Animal Society Resource Center

This is an online library chock full of information on pet health, training, educational materials and interactive resources designed both for pet owners and pet workers.