See yourself as a bit of a dog whisperer? Looking for a way to combine your love of dogs with earning an income? Then starting your own dog training business could be a lucrative option.
This guide will explore the pros and cons of starting your own dog training business and will explain the fundamentals of setting up for long-term success.
It’s important to look at the current landscape of the industry to understand whether there is even a demand for dog trainers. Following the surge in ‘Pandemic Puppies’, 3.2 million households in the UK decided to get a pet in response to social isolation experienced from multiple lockdowns. Combined with the shift towards working from home, people are in a better position to look after and care for a dog. The pet industry shows no signs of slowing down and the demand for expertise to ensure these animals are well trained is there for the taking.
The Benefits of Starting Your Own Dog Training Business
Starting your own dog training business comes with many responsibilities, but also some great benefits:
- Flexibility - being your own boss is liberating. Setting your own working hours and the option to work anywhere in the world is an attractive proposition.
- Fulfilment - transforming a poorly behaved dog into a sociable member of the family (as a result of your hard work) is incredibly rewarding.
- Professional growth - you have the option to work alone and build deeper connections to your local community. Or, expand your dog training business and manage trainers in multiple locations.
- Low upfront costs - it doesn’t take much investment to set yourself up as a dog training business. You need the client base, the skillset and of course…the passion.
The Challenges of Starting Your Own Dog Training Business
It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons when starting your own dog training business. Below are a few areas worth considering before taking the leap:
- Face-to-face clientele - dealing with customers can be challenging and demanding. There is a lot of pressure and responsibility to look after someone’s dog when they are often seen as part of the family.
- Risk for injury - there is a high risk of dog bites as an occupational hazard.
- Emotional ties - as you get to know each dog's unique personality, you'll likely form a bond with them. It’s important to set yourself boundaries to avoid becoming too attached. Once their training is complete, it’ll be time to say goodbye!
- Economic downturn - as the cost of living rises in the UK, those with discretionary income are less likely to pay someone to train their dog. Inflation can make it very difficult to maintain existing clientele, let alone attract new customers to your business.
What experience or qualifications do you need?
The pet service industry is a competitive sector. To effectively break into this space and build a brand for long-term success, it’s important to niche.
Consider what type of training service you will provide. We’ve compiled a list of the different areas you could specialize your dog training business:
- Guard dog training
- Obedience training
- Puppies or larger dog training
- Therapy and service dogs
- Remedial behavior correction sessions
- Aggression cases with a bite history
- Separation anxiety cases
- Agility training
- Off-leash training
- Private, one-on-one lessons or group classes
Consider where you will be running your training sessions. Will it be from your own home, rented commercial space or in a public park?
💡 Business Tip: Offer your customers add-on services such as dog walking and dog sitting. This can provide you with an additional source of income during quieter months.
Pricing Your Services and Accepting Payments
According to Airtasker, dog trainers charge between £20 and £70 for a one-hour group session. Spend time researching competitors in your local area to get an idea of your own pricing model. Based on your findings, you'll be able to position your business within the current market at a more competitive rate.
Professional dog training qualifications help instill trust in your brand. They also help towards charging more for your service. Official documentation shows customers that you know what you’re talking about and goes a long way. Take a look at the following to get started:
- The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers
- Studying dog behavior at CIDBT
As a dog trainer, you’re constantly on the go; traveling to clients’ homes and running training classes in all kinds of commercial spaces. Having the right technology setup to take credit card payments will make all the difference as you look to grow your dog training business.
Providing your clients with a seamless payment process is often overlooked by many dog trainers. Customers expect a reliable and convenient way to pay so be sure to deliver on this area of the business.
Look into opening a business bank account. Keep a record of all expenses and income, this is critical to understand the financial performance of your dog training operation. Keeping accurate and detailed bookkeeping will be beneficial and greatly simplify when you come to do your end-of-year taxes.
Dog training is a competitive industry. If you have the right tools and technology in place to deliver for your clients and build your reputation as a trusted dog trainer, you’ll be well on your way to reap the rewards of a consistent income.
The First Steps to Setting up Your Business
Your brand is crucial to help communicate who you are and what you stand for as a dog training service.
- Come up with a catchy brand name
- Create a recognisable logo with Canva and use it across all of your branding
- Get dog trainer insurance with liability cover - a good policy gives you peace of mind for you and your clients
- Register your dog training business as a sole trader or limited company
Marketing your dog training business
The success of your dog training business will be heavily reliant on your marketing strategy. A lot of your business will come from word of mouth and referrals so be sure to ask for testimonials from your happy clients. Use these reviews across all marketing materials for both online (social media, email newsletters, website content etc,) and offline strategies (leaflets, brochures, magazine advertorials).
Look at partnering with similar organizations within the pet service industry. Build relationships with local vets, shelters, dog walkers or independent pet stores. Offer an incentive program such as free classes or a 10% discount for them to refer your services to their customers.
After reading this guide, we hope you are now in a better position to start your own dog training business. The advice and strategies shared in this guide will give you a head start in turning your passion for dogs into a professional business. Good luck!