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How to Start a Dog Training Business in 2023
By Josh Boutelle at digiwoof.com

Interested in starting a dog training business in 2023? With an explosion of pet ownership over the last decade, you’re about to embark on an exciting journey.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the essential aspects of starting your dog training business. From understanding the importance of proper education through renowned training programs to laying out a clear budget and defining your client base, we have it all covered. You’ll learn about legal considerations, including necessary licenses and insurance, and discover how to build your brand with a professional website and community engagement.

A Note About Education

Before diving into the business details, having the right foundation is crucial. If you’re considering becoming a dog trainer, proper education through renowned programs like Karen Pryor Academy (KPA), Academy of Dog Trainers, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy, or other qualified institutions is essential.

While dog training is a mostly unregulated industry, it’s important to remember that you’re working with living beings who have unique needs and behaviors. Having the right education equips you with the skills to handle different dog temperaments and training techniques and establishes your credibility in the field.

So, if you’re an existing dog trainer looking to transform your passion into a thriving business or just starting your journey into this rewarding profession, this guide is tailored for you. We’ll help you navigate the exciting world of dog training entrepreneurship, covering everything from planning and legalities to marketing and building a strong community presence.

Section 1: Planning Your Business

Starting a dog training business in 2023 requires thorough planning, a clear vision, and a defined strategy. Here’s what you need to consider:

Who is your audience?

When launching a dog training business, identifying your target audience is a crucial first step. Your audience could include:

  • New Puppy Parents: Those who have recently brought a puppy into their home and seek guidance on training and socialization.
  • Rescue Dog Adopters: Individuals or families who have adopted a rescue or rehabilitated dog, often requiring specialized training and understanding.
  • Sport and Agility Enthusiasts: People interested in agility or competitive dog sports, looking for expert coaching and training programs.
  • Special Needs Dogs: Offering training tailored for dogs with behavioral issues or physical disabilities and their owners seeking expert assistance.

Note on Specialization

Niching down and specializing in one specific area can turn you into the go-to expert in something you’re passionate about. Whether working exclusively with rescue dogs or focusing on agility training, finding a niche allows you to stand out in the market and build a dedicated client base. Specializing in an area you love enhances your expertise and brings joy and fulfillment to your work, aligning your business with your values and interests.

What services will you offer?

Selecting the right mix of services is key in shaping your dog training business. Here’s an introduction to various options, along with the pros and cons of each:

Day Training:

  • What It Is: A professional trainer works with the dog during the day, often while the owner is at work. At the end of the week, the trainer “transfers” handling skills over to the client.
  • Pros: Convenient for busy owners; dogs receive professional, consistent training. Reliable, steady income for trainer.
  • Cons: More expensive; requires trust and communication between trainer and owner. Vital for trainer to explain the importance of client role.

Coaching:

  • What It Is: The trainer coaches the owner to train the dog, offering guidance and techniques.
  • Pros: Owners learn along with their dogs; builds owner-dog relationship; flexible scheduling.
  • Cons: More commitment and involvement from the owner; progress may be slower. Need more clients for income.

Classes (Group or Individual):

  • What It Is: Scheduled group classes, focusing on various training skills.
  • Pros: Socialization opportunities for dogs; group classes can be more economical. Can be a “one to many” service.
  • Cons: Less personalized attention in group settings; scheduling may be less flexible. Higher overhead costs.

Online Courses:

  • What It Is: Virtual training programs accessed online, offering videos, guides, and support.
  • Pros: Accessible to a broader audience; convenient; lower overhead costs.
  • Cons: Less hands-on guidance; potential technology barriers; may not suit all learning styles. Requires A LOT more marketing to succeed.

Establishing a Budget

When starting your dog training business, laying out a clear and comprehensive budget is vital. Here are the costs you need to consider:

Start-up Costs:

  • Training and Certification: If you need further education or certification, consider the fees for courses and examinations.
  • Equipment and Supplies: Include essentials like leashes, clickers, treats, toys, and any specialized gear.
  • Facility Costs: If you require a physical location, include rent, utilities, renovations, and insurance.
  • Marketing and Branding: Building a professional website, designing a logo, printing business cards, and initial advertising campaigns. Companies like digiwoof can provide specialized services in this area.
  • Legal and Licensing: Business registration, professional liability insurance, and any required local permits or licenses.

Ongoing Operational & Personal Costs:

  • Rent and Utilities: If you have a physical location, ongoing costs for space, electricity, water, and internet.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Continuous promotion, including social media advertising, email marketing, and community engagement.
  • Software and Technology: Tools like Clicks! can help you manage scheduling, payment processing, CRM, email marketing, and other essential functions.
  • Continued Education: Seminars, workshops, and other professional development opportunities to keep your skills up-to-date.
  • Supplies and Maintenance: Regular replacement or replenishment of training materials, and maintenance of equipment.
  • Personal Expenses: Don’t forget to include your living expenses, such as mortgage or rent, groceries, health insurance, etc., as part of your budget planning. Understanding your personal financial needs will ensure that your business revenue can support both your professional and personal life.

Tallying up your expenses

Once you’ve tallied up all of your expenses, be sure to total them for the full year. You’ll then want to determine what you’ll need to bring in in order to meet all of your expenses.

Pro tip: Divide your full yearly expenditures by 10 months (instead of 12). This way, you’ll be able to account for time-off, slow months, and any unexpected expenses for the full year.
 Thanks to Dogbizsuccess.com for this tip!

Setting Rates

Now that you know how much you’ll need to bring in, it’s time to determine how much you want to work. Determine how many clients you can realistically take on in any given period, and divide your expenses by this number.

For example: If you want to bring in $6000/mo and have determined you can realistically see 3 clients a day, 5 days a week (15 sessions per week), you’ll want to divide $6000 by 60, giving you an effective rate of $100/session.

Low rates attract difficult clients:

If you’re just starting your dog business, setting your rates low to attract clients can be tempting. Setting low rates’ll often attract your most demanding clients, who might not take your services as seriously.

We advise setting your rates as high as you can confidently do so. A safe strategy might be setting your rates just under the highest in town. Remember, your ideal clients want the best for their dog, not the cheapest.

Section 2: Setting Up Your Business

Starting your own dog training business in 2023 is more than a passion; it’s an entrepreneurial journey that requires careful planning and proper setup. In this section, we’ll delve into legal considerations, including the best structure for your business, acquiring required licenses, insurance considerations, and even the tools that can ease your business operations.

Consulting with a Qualified Accountant

Embarking on a business journey requires understanding financial complexities, and there’s no substitute for professional advice. Collaborate with a qualified accountant who has insights into the pet industry. Whether you choose to run your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation, an accountant will guide you through:

  • Business Entity Type: Different types may affect your taxes, liabilities, and ability to raise funds.
  • Tax Planning: Learn about pet industry-specific tax deductions and maximize your savings.

Acquiring Required Licenses and Permits

The licenses and permits you’ll need may vary by location and services offered:

  • Business License: Almost all jurisdictions require this.
  • Specialized Permits: Check with local authorities for any pet care and handling-related permits.
  • Zoning Laws: If operating from a physical location, ensure compliance with zoning laws.

Insurance Considerations

Protecting your business with the right insurance is paramount:

  • General Liability Insurance: Covers potential injuries or property damages.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: Protects against professional errors or negligence.
  • Property Insurance: Essential if you have a physical location or valuable equipment.

It’s important to note that we are not legal experts by any means. You’ll want to consult with an attorney regarding your specific circumstances when it comes to acquiring the right protections for your dog training business.

Implementing Efficient Systems

Incorporating systems into your dog business from the get-go can set you up for professional success moving forward. Having systems will allow you to spend more time on marketing, sales, and other business-building activities while giving your business a professional feel.

Here are a few systems to consider incorporating:

  • Scheduling & Payment: Tools like Clicks! With digiwoof can handle various essential functions such as scheduling, payments, CRM, and more.
  • Automation: Automate tasks like appointment reminders, client onboarding, and more, to save time and provide an excellent client experience.
  • Phone System: Be sure to get a professional phone number with SMS capabilities to make your marketing efforts have the greatest impact.

Section 3: Building Your Business

After deciding on who you’ll be helping, your business name, and all of the legalities, it’s time to build your business. In this section, we’ll discuss the essential activities you’ll want to take to bring in your first clients.

Your Website

Your website will act as your virtual storefront when it comes to attracting clients. All of your marketing efforts will lead here, so it’s crucial to put your best foot forward. Here are the key elements you should focus on:

Client-Focused Messaging

Craft your website’s content with your clients in mind. Speak to their needs, their pets’ needs, and how your services can uniquely solve their problems. Your messaging should resonate with your target audience and compel them to take action.

Mobile-Friendly Design

More people are browsing the web on their mobile devices than ever before. Having a website that looks and functions great on all devices is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity. Ensure that your website is responsive, providing an optimal browsing experience on phones, tablets, and desktops alike.

SEO Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for being found online. Your website should be optimized with relevant keywords, meta tags, alt text for images, and other best practices to rank higher on search engine results pages.

Website Templates for Dog Trainers

If you’re looking for a quick and professional solution to build your website, our specially designed website templates for dog trainers are an excellent choice. These templates are tailored to meet the needs of dog training professionals and come with everything you need to get started. Explore our templates at https://digiwoof.com/website-templates-for-dog-trainers/, and find the one that fits your business best.

1-Day Website Course

Want to learn how to build your own professional website quickly? Join our 1-day website course designed specifically for dog trainers. By the end of this course, you’ll have a fully functioning website tailored to your business needs. Learn more and sign up at landing.digiwoof.com/1day.

Marketing your Dog Business

“Build it and they will come” – the worst advice you could give to a dog trainer. Setting up your business and website is only step one when it comes to starting your dog training business. Once you’ve established the framework of your business, it’s time to focus on marketing and reaching your ideal clients. A strong marketing strategy will help you grow your client base and establish your brand as a go-to expert in your area. Here’s how to get started:

Claiming Your Google Business Profile:

Dog guardians often go to google search for services like yours. Be sure to claim your Google Business Profile and start soliciting reviews from people who have benefited from your expertise.

Establish Referral Relationships:

Create relationships with other professionals who serve your ideal clients.

  • Veterinary Clinics: Partner with local vets who can refer clients needing training or behavior support.
  • Pet Stores: Collaborate with pet stores and offer workshops or demonstrations. You can even offer store employees a brief training so they can advocate for your services.
  • Other Dog Trainers: Forming partnerships with other trainers can allow you to refer clients to each other based on specialization or schedule availability.
  • Rescue Organizations: Many rescue dogs may need specialized training. Establish a relationship with local rescue organizations to offer your expertise.
  • Dog Walkers & Daycares: Having trustworthy dog walkers and daycare to refer clients to can be a win-win. Reach out to local dog walkers and daycares to see who is accepting clients (and offer to refer clients). By offering to refer, these sources will feel compelled to do the same for you.

Content Marketing:

Content marketing involves creating valuable content that educates and entertains your audience. Here’s how you can use it to build your brand:

  • Blog: Write about topics that interest your audience, like training tips, dog behavior insights, or breed-specific guides. Blog posts can have the added benefit of additional SEO opportunities for your website.
  • Video Content: Creating video tutorials or demonstrations can be a powerful way to showcase your training skills and connect with potential clients.
  • Email Newsletter: Regular newsletters with valuable content can help keep your audience engaged and aware of your offerings.

Soliciting Reviews:

Positive reviews can significantly influence potential clients. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Tools like Clicks! With Digiwoof allow you to automate these review requests as part of your workflow.

Social Media Engagement:

Social media platforms provide an opportunity to connect with your audience and showcase your expertise.

  • Regular Posts: Share photos, videos, tips, and insights regularly to keep your audience engaged.
  • Facebook Groups: Consider creating a community group where clients can share success stories, ask questions, and feel part of a community.
  • Instagram Stories: Use stories to share behind-the-scenes glimpses, quick tips, or showcase client testimonials. If you’re looking for help with social media management, Digiwoof offers these services.

Advertising:

Advertising is an easy way of getting in front of your ideal clients. By investing as little as $5/day, you can start to experiment and see what messaging resonates with your clients. We’d recommend waiting to advertise until you have tried and true systems in place for reliably bringing in clients. If you’re needing help with optimizing your systems or running ads, reach out to Digiwoof.

Closing Notes & Additional Support

Now that you know the overall steps to starting a dog business, we encourage you to take action! While some of the steps can feel daunting, the payoff of a business you love is well worth it.

If you’re needing any additional support in planning your business, we encourage you to reach out to our friends at dogbizsuccess.com for consulting help.

Additional Support:

At Digiwoof, we are dedicated to assisting pet care professionals in expanding their reach and success. Our services are tailored to meet your unique needs:

  • Social Media Management: Let us help you create engaging content and build a loyal community.
  • Advertising Assistance: Reach your ideal clients through strategic advertising campaigns.
  • Website Development & Copywriting: Enhance your online presence with a professional website and compelling writing that resonates with your audience.
  • Clicks! All-In-One Software: Streamline your operations with our comprehensive software solution, including scheduling, payment, CRM, email marketing, and more.

Don’t navigate these complex terrains alone. Schedule a call with us at digiwoof.com/digiwoof-call to discuss how we can support your growth and help you connect with your audience in meaningful ways. Your success is our mission, and we look forward to being a part of your journey.

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