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How Much Do Dog Trainers Make? (2024 Salary Overview)

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on July 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

german shepherd dog resting his head on his owner doing training

How Much Do Dog Trainers Make? (2024 Salary Overview)

As a dog parent, you know the importance of properly training your pup, but sometimes, life gets in the way, and you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself. That’s where dog trainers come in. If you’ve used a dog trainer before, you’re aware of how knowledgeable and helpful they can be. But have you ever wondered how much dog trainers make?

Whether you’re just curious or are thinking of starting a new career as a dog trainer, we’ve got the answer for you! And the short answer to how much dog trainers make is that it varies. The average salary for dog trainers in the United States, though, is $52,657 a year.1 A lot of how much a dog trainer makes has to do with where they are located, but other factors affect pay, too.

What Affects a Dog Trainer’s Pay?

Which factors affect how much a dog trainer is paid? Well, as we said, location plays a big part in salary.2 For example, a dog trainer in Louisiana averages $31,951 a year, while in Washington, the average pay is $46,515. That’s quite a difference!

Location isn’t the only factor determining how much a dog trainer is paid. Where a dog trainer works will also affect their pay. Self-employed dog trainers might make more or less than a trainer working with a company, but they also pay more into their business. According to Glassdoor,3 dog trainers at Petco are paid, on average, $21/hour, while Sit Means Sit Dog Training pays $26/hour.

Education also plays a role. The more education a dog trainer has about training dogs, the more employable and likely to be paid they will be. And if a dog trainer has received education in specialized training—such as for service dogs or behavior modification—they’ll be paid more than trainers who do generalized obedience training.

Finally, like with many jobs, the amount of experience a dog trainer has determines how much they’ll earn.

chihuahua dog going through obedience training
Image Credit: LNbjors, Shutterstock

Types of Dog Training and Their Average Salary

We mentioned above that dog trainers with specialized skills can make more than those who work as general dog trainers. Here’s a closer look at types of dog training and their average salary.

  • Military Dog Trainer: $42,708/year
  • Hunting Dog Trainer: $31,520/year
  • Behavioral Trainer: $65,445/year
  • Service Dog Trainer: $34,195/year
  • Law Enforcement Dog Trainer: $58,320/year

As you can see, there are pretty significant pay differences depending on the type of training!

How Do I Become a Dog Trainer?

While education and experience are beneficial for dog trainers, you don’t need formal education or certification to call yourself a dog trainer (though we recommend it!). Beginning your journey to becoming a dog trainer can be as simple as training your pup and then moving on to training the dogs of your friends and family. However, the more education you have, the more money you’ll make, so you may want to go the route of more formal training by taking classes at an academy.

When you’ve learned all that you can, you should consider joining a professional dog trainer organization, such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, to let clients know you’re a serious trainer, as well as to keep up with the latest training techniques and resources. Although certification isn’t required for dog trainers, getting certified will undoubtedly let people know you have the knowledge and skills to do the job right.

However, if you’re looking into going into a specialized area, such as law enforcement dog training, you’ll need to take training courses to learn everything required before beginning a job.

service dog undergoing training
Image by: muroPhotographer, Shutterstock

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The average general dog trainer will make about $52,657 a year in the United States. However, salaries will vary by state and company and depend on the type of training and education a dog trainer has. Some dog trainers can make up to $65,445 or more a year!

If you are interested in being a dog trainer, you don’t need a certification or education, but if you have them, you’ll have an easier time and make more. You can find academies where you can receive training and certification through a professional organization for dog trainers. But you can also stick with training your own dog and other people’s dogs to teach yourself the dog training skills.

Featured Image Credit: Natalliaskn, Shutterstock

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