How Much Does It Cost to Become a Dog Trainer?

Of the 3.1 million dogs surrendered to shelters annually, the vast majority — 96 percent — received no basic obedience training before their dropoff.

That means 2,967,000 animals could have remained at home if they had received basic lessons before their owners became too frustrated with them.

Dog trainers help owners increase desirable behaviors while decreasing or eliminating unwanted ones.

To accomplish this task, trainers use one or more of the seven types of dog training: alpha/dominance, positive reinforcement, clicker use, electric-shock collars, Model-Rival dog work, relationship-based, and science-backed.

Employment Outlook and Salary

With a 29 percent growth rate expected through 2031, the animal care and service sector, including animal trainers, will increase much faster than other industries.

As a result, animal trainers can expect a $38,230 median annual wage nationwide.

Moreover, New York, the highest-paying state, provides a mean yearly income of $67,440.

Consequently, you could earn an additional $1,372,870 over your employable lifetime.


Currently, seven states require their dog trainers to hold a license.

In reverse order by burden, they include Connecticut, Maryland, North Dakota, New York, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Connecticut dropped from 5th place to 7th when it eliminated its dog training license fees.

New Hampshire moved from 3rd to first place due to its requirement for being 21 or older and having 15 clock hours of dog trainer training.

Nevada charges the highest license fee, however: $1408.

Pet Trainer Cost Considerations

Dog trainers charge fees based on group size, with private sessions costing the most: up to $250.

However, basic obedience, such as obeying commands to sit, stay, or heel, costs less than dealing with problem behaviors such as food or leash aggression, anxiety, reactivity with other dogs, prey aggression, or escaping.

After graduation, your expenses will depend on whether you offer in-person or at-home training, work for facilities, or open a facility.

Training dogs in their own home requires less overhead than opening a facility.

However, besides rent and utilities, you may need specific-sized indoor and outdoor spaces, specialized training equipment, and have to hire additional dog trainers.

Online Programs

Animal Behavior College

Tuition is $3,499 if paid in full, or you can request a payment plan costing up to $5,647.

Military spouses may receive tuition waivers.

Moreover, graduates can access the Job Board.

The program has 11 stages, takes 12 to 16 months, and includes Pet First Aid/CPR certification.

Your trainers teach LIMA (least invasive, minimally aversive) dog training techniques.

International School for Certified Dog Trainers

ISCDT’s low tuition for their initial course — $399 for 18 lessons –stems from their pay-it-forward philosophy.

However, after completing that, you may opt for a one-week Skilled Comprehension course, which costs $1,400.

You’ll shadow a certified trainer at Sublime K9 Dog Training in Long Island, New York, during this second class.

Finally, for another $2,200, you spend two weeks following a certified SK9 dog trainer to take the Proficient Skill and Comprehension course.

QC Pet Studies

Tuition costs $2098 when paid in full.

Otherwise, you may opt for the 18-month equal payment plan at $2,498.

The program takes 30 to 35 clock hours to complete the online coursework.

Unfortunately, that does not include your practice time with the dogs you train.

Consequently, most students take up to six months to graduate.

In-Person Training and Certification

Conifer Canine Dog Trainer College

Tuition for the six-week, in-person, Behavior and Obedience Trainer Course costs $4900, or you can pay $3000 for the online version.

It teaches the fundamentals, including the proper use of dog training equipment.

You also learn to meet nutritional needs, decode canine communications, sustain a healthy kennel operation, and how and when to socialize with puppies.

Starmark Academy for Professional Dog Trainers (R)

All Starmark Academy programs take place on campus in Austin, Texas.

Tuition for the four-week Pet Obedience Theory and Application course runs $6.795.

This includes tuition, books, a $50 application fee, and a $500 tuition deposit, which goes toward your full tuition payment.

The eight-week Canine Training Specialist Program costs $8795.

It includes the first course and four additional weeks spent learning to track and support dog health, supervising various canine facilities, reducing dog behavioral issues, using clicker training, and teaching dog agility skills.

Finally, the 12-week Canine Training and Behavior Specialist Program costs $11,795 and includes the first and second courses.

In the additional four weeks, you’ll learn police K-9 and protection training methods and equipment setups, scent discrimination, live person and cadaver search and rescue techniques, and training assistance dogs for people with special needs.

Is Becoming a Professional Dog Trainer a Good Investment?

With their short-term training courses and low tuition costs, pet trainer programs are a good investment.

Equipment costs start between a few dollars for a clicker and some treats and $300 for a basic professional dog trainer starter kit.

Or spend several thousand dollars setting up an agility course, police and military K9, or a search and rescue training facility.