6 Things I HATE About Being a Certified Professional Dog Trainer

You’ve read about the 7 Things I LOVE About Being a certified professional dog trainer.  Now that you’ve had a moment to think about your dream job, let’s take a moment to contemplate the hazards of becoming a certified dog trainer!

1. You can’t help everyone.

Most trainers choose dog training because they want to help dogs and their people.  Unfortunately, you can’t take every client.  Some can’t afford your fees, some have problems that don’t fall within your areas of expertise, and some clients aren’t ready to commit to change.

2. There are no end goal guarantees.

Certified dog trainers are ethically limited in the types of training promises we can make.  While a certified dog trainer can guarantee satisfaction, a certain amount of time spent with the client’s dog, or the use of certain types of methods, ethical trainers won’t guarantee training goal end results.  Clients desperately want to hear a guarantee, and less ethical trainers may offer these guarantees.

3. Days are long – and dog training will be the smallest part of many days. 

Accounting, marketing, cleaning, driving, and administrative duties.  Many dog trainers are small business owners, which means accounting, marketing, and various admin duties consume a large part of the day.  If a love of dogs, helping people, and teaching draws you to dog training – be aware that much of dog training does not involve training dogs.  Working for someone else, dog trainers can expect to do some light cleaning, driving to clients’ houses, and some admin.

4. Disillusionment     

For many professional dog trainers, the root of their professional interest comes from a desire to help people, decrease euthanasia rates, or from a personal experience with a special dog in their past.  Some clients have unrealistic expectations or want results with minimal or no effort on their part.  And dog training results are limited by a number of factors:  time, money, the training issue and end goal, and the owner’s engagement and ability to name a few.  These limitations can be disheartening sometimes.

5. Traffic

Such a simple thing – but a personal least favorite of mine.  Most dog trainers have private clients, provide day training, offer some dog walking (training walks, pet sitting for long-term clients, etc), and/or train group classes at multiple locations.  Expect to spend a good amount of time behind the wheel of your car.  And frequently, your clients are available at times that traffic is peaking.  This all equals 1 dog trainer in stop and go traffic.

6. Cobbler’s Children

If you’ve ever heard the saying the cobbler’s children go without shoes, then you’ll understand how little training a dog trainer’s own dogs may get.  I love to train my own dogs.  Many professional dog trainers love training their own dogs but find the days slipping by with no dedicated personal training time, each day filled to the brim with dog training…someone else’s dogs.

Why be a dog trainer?

Looking at this list, you may ask – why am I a professional dog trainer?  Every job has its downside.  What’s important is being aware of the pros and cons.  Incorporating my love of dogs into every aspect of my life, scheduling flexibility, helping people who want to be helped – these are things that provide me with a great deal of personal satisfaction.  Enough satisfaction that the things I don’t like, even sometimes hate, pale in comparison.  And always keeping the negatives in mind helps me to work toward improving those downsides of the job.  I can limit my traffic time through smart scheduling.  I can train with my own dogs if I simply schedule myself like a client.  Some of the solutions are less simple – but I’m always searching!

Yes, there are downsides. No, becoming a professional dog trainer isn’t for everyone. Create your own LOVE/HATE lists, compare the columns, and follow your head – or just follow your heart. I know that when I read through my list of “loves,” I fall in love with dog training all over again.

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