Thinking of starting a dog training business? In this article we’ll cover what you’ll earn, how to start it, what licenses you’ll need, how much you should charge and more.
Before you set out to open a business bank account, get an LLC in your state, and buy business cards you should start with the basics.
The One Thing for a Dog Training Business – Find a client, train their dog, get paid. Repeat.
Once you’ve got at least a few clients under your belt then you can carry on with the rest of making your dog business more official.
In a bit we’ll cover how to get clients and how to take payments. First let’s see the big picture on what to do.
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Steps to Start a Dog Training Business
Setting up an official business takes a few steps but don’t get worried. It’s easier than you think. We’ve setup several LLCs in our State of Colorado.
I’ll walk you through everything you need to do to do this right.
Why bother? Because you want your business to be separate from your personal finances. While it’s nice to say you’ll never get sued reality often disagrees.
By keeping everything separate you have a better chance for suitors to have no or less access to your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit.
1 – Get clients by asking for referrals
The easiest way to start this flow is to offer to train your friend’s and family’s dogs for free. Then ask for referrals.
2 – Take Payments
At first do this through cash, check, and via apps like venmo or paypal. After a few clients you’ll want to setup an official LLC and business bank account to separate your personal finances from your business.
3 – Get a dog business name
You want something brandable and easy to remember. It should not have any active trademarks on it or applied for it. Plus you should be able to reserve the website URL as well.
Brainstorm Dog Business Names
For this step I like to use Shopify’s business name generator. You plug in a few words then it’ll search for those and similar names to see what website URLs are available to buy. Try it here.
Don’t get your website from Shopify though! You have a dog training business not an ecommerce store. Shopify is just for ecommerce.
Instead you’ll buy your website from Namecheap.com. But first, you also need to check if the name is trademarked. You don’t want a name that’s been trademarked (lawsuits!).
Check the US Patent and Trademark’s Website to confirm that no one else has reserved your name.
Then check your state’s Secretary of State office to make sure your name is available. As an EXAMPLE, here’s where I would search in my State of Colorado.
Dog Business Name Checklist
- Is the URL available?
- Have you checked for trademarks and found there are none?
- Is the name available in your state?
- When you can answer the above move on to the next step
4 – Buy the website URL
We prefer Namecheap.com. Why? It’s cheap and stable. We don’t recommend them for hosting because we don’t have experience with them. For hosting we recommend Siteground.com for beginners and websites with low traffic.
5 – Apply for an LLC on your State’s Secretary of State Website
To complete this you’ll need a few things:
- Create an Operating Agreement – This is a document that says how you’ll split the business between partners, when you’ll have regular meetings, and how you’ll dissolve the business if it closes. It’s the place to go to learn how to handle disputes. You can get free templates online. Start there and fill it out for your situation. When I started my first business I hired a lawyer for this. It’s recommended you speak with a lawyer as I am not one. However, it’s very important you read through your operating agreement and understand it. You must follow it to the letter. With my first business I didn’t read it. I just trusted the lawyer. Not wise – make sure they go over the whole thing with you!
- Set yourself as a registered agent – Don’t worry about this one. We used to pay a service for this but for a new business it’s not worth it. What is a registered agent? It’s the person and address that people would file a lawsuit against you or other important mail that needs your attention.
- Apply to get your Articles of Incorporation – Don’t use a service for this. You’ll automatically do this when you apply on your State’s website
6 – Get a Federal EIN number
Again, this is easy. Just go here and apply now that you have your LLC setup. Get an EIN at the IRS’s website.
7 – Get a Business Bank Account
Now that you have an LLC formed and your Federal EIN, take these and your first deposit to your local bank. There you can setup a business bank account. Personally I prefer online banks. The two I have used for my businesses are AXOS Online Business Bank and Capital One Spark Business.
8 – Get a Business Credit Card
Do this through the bank account you just setup. Use it for all and for only business expenses. Don’t put personal items on this card. Keep your personal and business finances separate!
9 – Keep Track of your Expenses and Payments
10 – Get Business Insurance
Why? In case you get sued! General liability insurance will help with lawsuits. Take to your legal team for details on this as I am not a lawyer.
11 – Check Your State, County and City for License Requirements
Do you need a License to be a Dog Trainer? Do you need to collect sales tax? – Check your State, County, and City’s websites to see if a license is required. You already did the LLC step above to setup your business. Now you need to check if you need a license in your area to be a dog trainer.
12 – Setup a Simple Service Agreement Contract
Use a free template online to build a simple contract or have your lawyer build one for you. Sign up each new client using this contract.
13 – Market your business and get new clients
At first focus on word of mouth. If you plan to have your website bring you leads you will need to do one of 3 things to increase traffic:
write blog posts optimized for google traffic. There’s a whole lot more to it than that. The short is to research keywords relating to dog training and write articles answering those questions.
Social Media Marketing
There’s a few ways you can do this. All of them are easier than content marketing but different. By easier I mean you’ll do less writing. You’ll also do more pushing on social media.
For Pinterest the short of it is to create simple blog posts, create a well-designed pin with a catching title, then post that pin to your business’s pinterest account.
Pinterest is a visual search engine that users go to to learn things and get cool ideas. Like google it’s a great place for long-term traffic to your website.
Other forms of social media marketing include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you currently use these platforms then you’re ahead of the game.
Start with the platforms you use and start small.
For Pinterest make small blog posts, make pins for each one, share them then see which gain traction. Do more like those.
For Facebook or Instagram I’d recommend making short videos of successfully trained dogs. Post those to your accounts. At the end of each video tell them the name of your website and ask them to go there for more information.
Do enough of the above and you will slowly bring in more and more leads.
Facebook and Instagram, unlike Google or Pinterest, require adding more and more content. None of it is evergreen. It is easy though – just make videos and post them.
Lastly you have paid marketing. For new businesses we only recommend this if you plan to grow big by hiring dog trainers. Otherwise you should get enough leads from referall marketing and the free blogging or social media marketing discussed above.
If you want to use paid marketing to take things to the next level do it on the back of a successful content or social media marketing strategy.
Try those first and see which ones you like to do (e.g. write articles, make videos). Also, you want to have a method that actually brings you leads. All of these methods take time to learn.
Once you have a method that works that you enjoy then you can hyper charge it by running paid ads to it.
There’s a lot more to paid advertising and all these types of marketing that we will cover in future articles.
To quickly sum up paid though you need to know one thing. You have to know your numbers.
You must know these things two things
- CLV – Customer lifetime value
- CAC – Customer acquisition cost
Your business will determine your CLV. Simply divide your total lifetime revenue by your total number of customers.
For CAC you’ll pull that from running paid advertising campaigns. Again, simply divide the total amount spent on advertising by the total number of new customers (that came from that advertising not other sources).
As long as your CLV is higher than your CAC then your paid ads are profitable.
Expect figuring out how to do that to cost at least $5,000 in failed ads or more before you figure it all out.
Again, that’s why we don’t recommend paid ads for new businesses. Instead we recommend free hustling via friends and family, referrals from past clients, and social media or content marketing.
Of those even content marketing is a long term strategy. For small businesses intending to stay local and small just focus on referrals and maybe a little social media.