How to Become a Dog Trainer in Virginia

There are many professions you can try that involve animals, and all of them are very rewarding.

However, trying to teach an animal to do specific tasks, now that’s on another level.

But maybe you’re up for the task, as tedious as it is.

Let’s see if you have the nerve, courage, and patience to deal with all sorts of pups!

How to Become a Dog Trainer in Virginia?

You might think you want to become a dog trainer after watching a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer, but we suggest you take the next few steps to see if you have what it takes.

Step 1: Try it out

What better way to learn such a hands-on job than trying it out?

Volunteering is the best and most morally rewarding way you can do this.

It might not be paid but the experience you gain is priceless in the first steps of your career.

You will surely be under a mentor with experience who can share the pros and cons of the job, as well as give you a few tips and tricks they’ve gathered through the years.

Step 2: Get official training

When you’ve gotten the hang of the brawn of the job, it’s time to tackle the brain part.

You will, after all, be working with live matter.

You will need to understand the psychology of dogs, what threatens them, what triggers a positive response, and more importantly, what doesn’t work for them before they get too angry.

This is the hardest part of the job because every dog is an individual with its personality.

Step 3: Get certified

The best way to gain knowledge is through experience and through reading.

Many classes and schools combine the two so you don’t have to bother finding them separately.

Most of the programs provide some sort of certification at the end.

You can also check out The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and join the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

Step 4: Get a job

Once you’ve collected this basic knowledge you can start applying for jobs.

We encourage you to start your own business as well!

Either way, through working with clients you’ll get better with time, this goes for any profession you choose, including this one.

As time passes and you get better, more and more clients will come to ask for your services, and if you do a good and fast job, they’ll surely tell their friends about it as well!

Dog Training School in Virginia

Formal education is not needed in Virginia.

There is a world of knowledge in the palm of our hand most of the day.

We still encourage you to check out some of the offered classes.

Working with other colleagues is good for everyone!

Karen Pryor Academy

This certified Academy for dog trainers costs $5,600.

The courses are online but they also organize offline workshops where you can attend with your dog.

The workshops are in specific locations posted on their website, so you might have to travel if you want to attend.

Penn Foster

With this program, you can take your first steps in your career as a dog trainer.

The complete course for the Dog Obedience Trainer Program can be finished in as little as 7 months.

The course is online and more affordable than most classes and workshops.

Another positive is that you can take the lessons whenever and wherever, at your own pace!

School Name Address
Karen Pryor Academy 1933 N. Marcey Street Chicago, IL 60614 United States
Penn Foster 925 Oak Street Scranton, PA 18515 USA


As a professional dog trainer, you can earn from $31,512 to $37,976 in Virginia.

The average is $34,696, but this varies from town to town.

The best-paid dog trainers in Virginia are in Alexandria.

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Virginia Beach $33,369
Norfolk $32,867
Chesapeake $32,825
Richmond $34,479
Newport News $33,048
Hampton $33,048
Alexandria $38,856
Portsmouth $32,867
Roanoke $32,270
Lynchburg $32,015

Regional Salary in Virginia

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Richmond, VA40$35,570$17.1$49,350$24,760
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC60$34,450$16.56$41,340$26,580
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Animal Trainers, OCC Code 39-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a dog trainer make in Virginia?

As of Oct 24, 2023, the average hourly pay for a Professional Dog Trainer in Virginia is $19.13 an hour.

How can I become a Professional Dog Trainer in Virginia?

In order to become a professional dog trainer in Virginia you will first need to be patient and calm.

You do not need proper formal education to become a dog trainer, but it will be good for your progress in the field if you visit seminars, classes, and workshops.

Make sure they are certified, and even if they’re not, attend them if you think they will teach you something.

You can also join the Association of Professional Dog Trainers in order to become certified!

What will I need to become a certified dog trainer?

All the information you will need is provided by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

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