How to Start a Dog Training Business?

April 3, 2024

If you want to channel your passion for dogs into your profession, starting a dog training business could be a great option for you. Dog trainers play a crucial role in enhancing the relationship between dogs and their owners. Helping owners understand their pets and address behavioural issues contributing to a harmonious bond that will be hugely valued.

Running your own dog training business can provide a certain degree of flexibility and independence to your daily schedule offering another benefit. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the essential requirements you’ll need to get your dog training business up and running. Ensuring you adhere to laws and regulations first and foremost but also general effective business management.

In this guide we’ll take you through the core components to consider when setting up as a dog trainer. From qualifications, operational demands, costs, earnings and tips to promote your business.

What do you need to start a dog training business?

Qualifications

To start a dog training business in the UK, you don’t necessarily need formal qualifications, but having the right knowledge and skills is essential.

The Kennel Club Accredited Instructors Scheme:

The Kennel Club offers a UK-wide membership-based scheme for dog training instructors and canine behaviourists.

By becoming a member of this scheme, you can gain a nationally recognised vocational accreditation based on a robust standard set by The Kennel Club. This accreditation enhances your reputation and recognises your expertise in dog training.

Courses and Education:

While not mandatory, consider taking courses related to dog training and behaviour.

Look for courses run by organisations like the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) or other reputable institutions. Courses can provide you with theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Mentorship:

Find an experienced dog trainer who can act as your mentor. Learning from someone with hands-on experience can be invaluable when starting out.

Self-Study and Research:

Read books, attend workshops, and stay updated on the latest training techniques. Watch videos and tutorials online to better understand dog behaviour, learning theory, and positive reinforcement methods.

Certifications and Qualifications:

While not mandatory, certifications can boost your credibility. Consider the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT) qualification, which involves theory and practical components.

Location

Depending on how you operate your business finding a suitable location will come with specific requirements. Often dog trainers operate at dog owners’ homes or from their own homes or rent a temporary space such as a village hall or field. Either way you’ll want to consider the following points.

Indoor Space: A clean, safe, and well-ventilated indoor area for training sessions.

Outdoor Space: An enclosed outdoor area for practical training (e.g., obedience, agility).

Comfortable Waiting Area: For clients during sessions.

Accessibility and Safety: Choose a location accessible to clients. Ensure safety measures (e.g., non-slip flooring, secure fencing).

Noise Considerations: Avoid noisy areas (e.g., near busy roads) that may distract dogs during training.

Hygiene and Cleanliness: Regularly clean and disinfect the premises. Proper waste disposal for dog waste.

Separate Areas: If you offer group classes, consider separate spaces for different training levels. Private training sessions may require a quieter area.

Comfort for Dogs and Owners: Comfortable seating for clients. Water bowls for dogs. Climate control (heating/cooling).

Invest in Dog Training Equipment

Starting a dog training business requires the right equipment to ensure effective training sessions.

Collar and Leash:

A dog collar for control during training. A standard 6-foot leash for walks and basic commands.

Consider a long line for recall training and distance work.

High-Value Treats:

Use treats as rewards during training sessions.

Treat Pouch or Bag:

Conveniently carry treats during training keeping your hands free for handling the dog.

Clicker:

A clicker can mark desired behaviour and reinforce positive actions. Clickers create an association between behaviour and reward.

Training Mat or Crate:

A training mat provides a designated space for training commands. A crate helps with crate training and managing behaviour.

Muzzle (if needed):

Useful for dogs that may be anxious or reactive. Choose a comfortable and well-fitting muzzle.

Specialist Equipment (optional):

If you offer agility training, consider equipment like jumps, tunnels, and weave poles. Agility equipment enhances coordination and mental stimulation. For Gundog training you may need dummies or markers.

Dog Training Rules and Regulations

Animal Welfare Laws: Familiarise yourself with local, national, and international animal welfare laws and regulations. Stay updated to avoid legal issues. The Animal Welfare Law 2006 is the principal act related to animal welfare.

Ethical Standards: Maintain ethical practices. Avoid any methods that may cause harm or distress to animals.

Dog Kennel Boarding License: If you provide boarding or daycare services, obtain the necessary license.

Liability Insurance: Consider liability insurance to protect yourself and your clients.

Health & Safety

Safe Premises: Ensure your training location is safe for dogs and clients.

Hygiene and Cleanliness: Regularly clean and disinfect the premises.

Health and Safety Policies: Develop clear policies for handling dogs and clients during training sessions.

Client Contracts and Consent Forms: Create contracts outlining services, fees, and expectations. Obtain written consent from clients for training and handling their dogs.

Record Keeping: Maintain accurate records of client information, training progress, and incidents. Complete dog incident reports when necessary.

How much does it cost to start a dog training business?

Registration costs

Dog Kennel Boarding License: If you provide boarding or daycare services, obtain the necessary license.

Equipment and Supplies

Training Equipment: Leashes, treats, clickers, and training aids.

Marketing costs

Website: Building a professional website.

Marketing Materials: Business cards, flyers, and online ads.

Social Media: Promote your services on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Operational Costs

Utilities: If you have a training facility.

Transportation: If you offer in-home training.

Software: Booking systems, client management tools, etc.

Staff costs

If you hire staff (assistants, trainers), factor in their salaries or wages.

Insurance

Liability Insurance: Protects against claims from clients or third parties.

How much can I earn as a dog trainer?

As a dog trainer in the UK, your earnings can vary based on factors such as experience, location, clientele, and the services you offer. Here are some general guidelines:

Hourly Rates:

Beginners: If you’re just starting out, you might charge around £15 to £25 per hour for group classes or private sessions.

Experienced Trainers:

With more experience and a solid reputation, you can charge £30 to £50 per hour or more.

Group Classes:

Running group training classes can be lucrative. Depending on class size and duration, you might earn £100 to £200 per class.

Private Sessions:

One-on-one sessions with clients tend to command higher rates. Expect to earn £40 to £100 per hour for private training.

Specialist Services:

If you offer specialist training (e.g., aggression management, therapy dog training), you can charge a premium. Behaviour modification consultations might earn you £150 to £300 per session.

Puppy Training Packages:

Many trainers offer packages for puppy training. These can range from £200 to £500 for a set number of sessions.

Board and Train Programs:

If you provide board-and-train services (where dogs stay with you for intensive training), you can earn significantly more.

Rates vary widely, but £500 to £1,500 per week is common.

Additional Income Streams:

Consider diversifying your income by offering workshops, webinars, or online courses. Write e-books or create video content related to dog training.

Business Expenses:

Remember to deduct business expenses (e.g., equipment, marketing, insurance) from your earnings for accurate net income.

Building a Client Base:

Initially, focus on building a loyal client base. Word-of-mouth referrals are powerful. As your reputation grows, you can increase your rates.

Certifications and Qualifications:

Investing in certifications (e.g., IMDT, APDT) can enhance your credibility and justify higher fees.

How to promote a dog training business?

Website

Professional Design: Ensure your website is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly.

Services and Pricing: Clearly outline your dog training services and pricing structure.

Testimonials: Include client testimonials and success stories to build trust.

Contact Information: Make it easy for potential clients to contact you with visible contact details.

SEO Optimization: Use relevant keywords to improve your website’s search engine ranking.

Social Media Trainers:

Create Profiles: Establish a presence on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X formerly Twitter.

Engaging Content: Share informative and engaging content related to dog training, behaviour tips, success stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

Visuals: Use high-quality images and videos of your training sessions and happy dogs.

Interact with Followers: Respond to comments, messages, and engage with your audience to build a community.

Local Events

Participate in Dog Shows: Attend and participate in local dog shows or events. Set up a stand to showcase your services.

Workshops and Seminars: Host free or low-cost workshops on dog training at local community centres or pet stores.

Sponsorship: Consider sponsoring local pet-related events or sports teams to increase visibility.

Referrals

Client Incentives: Offer discounts or incentives for existing clients who refer new customers to your business.

Vet and Pet Store Partnerships: Establish partnerships with local veterinarians and pet stores. They can refer clients to you, and you can reciprocate.

Special Offers

New Client Discounts: Offer special discounts or packages for first-time clients to encourage new business.

Seasonal Promotions: Run promotions tied to seasons, holidays, or events to keep your services top of mind.

Bundle Deals: Create packages that include multiple sessions at a discounted rate to encourage commitment.

Get Dog Training Insurance with Protectivity

An essential component to your start-up process should be to ensure you are properly protected with the correct insurance. Animals can be unpredictable and the last thing you need when setting up is a costly claim that could have a significant impact on the starting success of your business.

Protectivity’s Dog Training Insurance provides specialist cover for pet care professionals considering the typical situations that might occur. You will find public liability insurance included, care, custody and control, loss of keys, employers’ liability insurance plus a range of other activities if you offer multiple services.

Find out more about and request a tailored quote for your services.

Bee Ingram

Content Writer for Protectivity Insurance

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.