Do You Need A License To Train Dogs?

Thinking of starting a dog training business? Wondering do you need a license to train dogs? In this article we’ll cover what license you need and how to get it so you can launch your dog training business fast.

So Do You Need a License?

No. Dog training is an unregulated industry. To setup the business you need to follow certain practices required by your State.

According to the Animal Humane Society, currently no Federal or State laws require dog training licensing. There are private and non-profit training options that can get you certified.

How Do I get Certified to Train Dogs?

Getting certified may help with your skills and credibility. There are many places to get certified such as the Association of Pet Dog Trainers or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

Note that the CCPDT requires continuing education training to maintain your certification. This is the same as needing continuing education to maintain your medical, law, or engineering license in your state.

How Much Does it Cost to Be a Certified Dog Trainer?

The cost to take the certification exam from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is $385. The cost to take the practice exam is $99. CCPDT exams are proctored by a professional testing center.

Apprenticeship programs also exist. These range from $3000 to $7,000 for the program. Apprenticeship programs involve in person work with you and a dog.

There are also free apprenticeship programs where you are hired and paid by a non-profit. Examples include Guide Dogs for the Blind or Guide Dogs of America.

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You can also get a job for a local dog training business and learn there. It’s unlikely they will train you to train dogs only to have you leave quickly though. Expect to do a lot of grunt work for 1-2 years before you get into direct training.

Still, that route could get you making money today and give you great credentials. I’d rather have my dog trained by someone who worked for a local dog training company rather than someone who just signed up for an online exam.

The Best Credentials

In the end though having a dog training business is about making the dog owner happy and giving them what they want. If I was just starting out with dog training I would ask your current and potential clients what they prefer.

Do they want credentials? In the end credentials are proof that you can do what you say.

Even with credentials is that true? Maybe yes and maybe no.

Even better credentials will always be past happy clients.

The cheaper, faster way to getting the proof you need to show potential clients is having a growing backlist of successfully trained dogs.

How do you start that fast? Train your friends and familys dogs for free. Get them to make a video testimonial for you. Post those to youtube or your website. Then share those with your prospective future clients.

Even just putting those videos on youtube and having your clients mention your name and website will bring you tons of new leads. People love sharing dog videos on Youtube.

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Make sure to ask your clients to include their dog in the testimonial video they make for you!

Ask a Dog Trainer

Christos Philippou, Owner – Trainer,

My name is Christos and I own a top-rated dog training business in Delaware and I’d love to weigh in on whether you need a license to run a dog training business.

Dog training is a relatively unregulated industry that does not necessarily require licenses or certifications. While regulations vary based on state and county for a regular business license, there may not be requirements specifically to train dogs.

There is a lot of debate in the dog training world as to whether or not licensure and credentials should be required to be able to train dogs. While it may seem to help to establish these requirements on paper, it is not practical in real life.

There are many organizations that can quickly certify somebody to train dogs. There may be an extremely short class or in some cases, just s fee, to obtain a certificate. Just because you are certified and have credentials does not mean you are a great trainer with experience.

I have been running my dog training business for almost 4 years and I do not have any certifications. In the last 3.5 years, I can count on one hand how many times I have been asked if I have any certifications. What is far more important, however, is how you communicate with potential clients and client testimonials/reviews. Right alongside an excellent reputation, reputable trainers will have content and videos showing off their work, their results, and their training process. Providing enough information like this to potential clients is the best way to get them to choose you.

Sara Levy-Taylor CABI, CPDT-KA, Dog Trainer for

No, a license for training dogs is not required. Professional Dog Trainers should be properly certified and educated on the science of training dogs. This can be done through organizations like and or Other paperwork required would be a DBA registration if you are using a business name.

Karishma Warr, CCPDT-KA, FFCP, CSAT, MA, Dog Trainer for

Unfortunately, the dog industry is entirely unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and start charging people for it. This creates a lot of problems.

Without any regulation it means there are no industry standards, no one must complete any schooling (or continued education), know the basics of dog behavior and body language, or have any experience working with animals. This results in outdated theories and methods being used, misinformation being spread, and ultimately dogs being abused and killed in the name of training.

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While it is not necessary or required to be licensed to train dogs at the moment, it is definitely sought after and preferred.

The biggest certification council to date that follows the Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive (LIMA) guidelines is The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

The biggest schools to acquire certifications from are Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) and Victoria Stilwell Academy (VSA).

As mentioned above, the industry is still not regulated, so unfortunately even if a trainer is certified it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best for the job.

We are working towards a more regulated industry, with the goal of all trainers having a basic understanding of dog behavior and psychology, body language, and behavior theories, hopefully, one day all trainers will need to be licensed!

It is unfortunate that the clown industry has more regulations than the dog industry, they deserve better.

When beginning a new dog training business in addition to making sure that you are qualified enough for the job and not taking on cases that are too challenging, it is important that you have insurance in place, accidents (and bites) can always happen and it is important that everyone is covered.