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So you want to be a Dog trainer?

Gary Jackson, Professional Dog Trainer, accomplished author AND member of the PDTA has a new book coming out around August this year.

Gary has been gracious enough to give us a chapter to read pre release.

This is a very truthful, raw and direct read that we cannot wait to finish!

Pre Order yours here

This chapter is called "So you want to be a dog trainer"


So You Want to be a Dog Trainer?

Being a full-time dog trainer, I have had many challenging, wonderful and fulfilling times. I have lost count of the amount of people that asked me, ‘How do you become a professional dog trainer? ‘They say, ‘You are so lucky working with dogs every day, that would be my dream job.’

Imagine been paid to take a dog for a walk and teach obedience and help the owners? The freedom to choose your own hours, so where do you start?

I will give you a better idea on what it is really like to be a dog trainer and how much time and energy you need to put in to build it as a career.

Most full-time trainers I know come into the industry bright eyed and bushy tailed with incredible enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. A few years later, they look drained and curse at the dogs they must train and their stupid owners. The reality of becoming a dog trainer is so much more different than they expected when they started their career.

When I started my career as an assistant to a dog trainer in the mid 1980s, I was so keen, learning heaps about the world of dogs. I attended obedience classes to talk with other dog training people and helped my dad out who was also a dog trainer.

I was watching hundreds of hours of videos learning as much as I could and attended many seminars while I was full-time trainer for a living. I had to do it all myself—to build a career as a professional dog trainer.

As my career was established, I expected to eventually earn the respect of the dog industry, which was just wishful thinking.

The dog training industry is full of toxic people with big egos and money or are power-hungry.

The slander and shit they put on each other is ridiculous. Just about every dog trainer thinks they’re the best and will bag the shit out of all other trainers.

Most also breed dogs which makes them a lot of money, so they bag their competition breeders as well. Whenever a dog trainer gets publicity for something great they did, then they will be the victim of tall poppy syndrome and cop shit from everywhere.

With all the successes I have had in my career from big publicity and successful dogs I have trained, I copped it.

People in the industry spreading rumours and trash-talking you to clients etc. When I finally realised that the dog training industry was responsible for all my stress, I became a hermit. I only focused on my clients and my projects and had very little contact with any other dog trainers.

Dog trainers are working another job and dog train on the side or they will become breeders to supplement their income. Others will work as security guards with their dog and help train fellow security guards’ dogs. Some may get training or dog walking or jobs in kennels.

As well as training dogs, you may have to care for them, so feeding and hosing out kennels and taking care of sick and injured dogs.

When you are doing in-kennel training of clients’ dogs you are fully responsible for the dogs’ wellbeing. Many things can and will go wrong, such as kennel cough going through the kennels, and you can’t train until it’s cleared up.

Say a dog freaks out in a storm and busts his teeth on the cage or gets caught and is injured. You will then have to rush a dog to the afterhours vet for treatment and rack up a $2,000 bill. Then you have to tell the owner and they are screaming at you then refuse to pay the bill or dump the dog on you.

You will get dogs that come in for the program that are scared to pieces of people as they have been unsocialised and bashed. Others that are fear aggressive and try to bite you for a week.

Then you will have the stubborn, unmotivated dogs that you can show them a hundred times and they still refuse to obey.

Dogs will stress out and lose weight or get a paralysis tick or fleas that came in on another dog. Then when you complete the training, you show the owners who can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time.

The dog works brilliantly, but even the dog sees the owner as a dipshit and does nothing for them as the owner lets the dog get away with everything.

You do a great job on a dog and six months later the owner rings to complain that the dog is pulling on lead but it the first time they have walked the dog since training.

Other clients will call you every day just to chat about their dog or ask a hundred questions on what their dog is doing each day while in training.

When you operate a training centre, the phone will go nonstop all day and night. Most just ring up to have a chat and tell you everything about their dog from problems to habits.

It is very common for someone to call and talk nonstop about their dog for twenty minutes, ask a couple of questions then hang up.

Then you will have messages go through to message bank that you have to return, so you may spend a large amount of your day on the phone.

You will also get a sense of achievement when you have a big week working with several dogs and all the training comes together and you get great results. You do a great demonstration for the owner and they are rapt with the

results and tell all their friends.

If you are training security dogs for sale, then there is a mountain of

things that can go wrong. Here are some of the things that may happen.

You supply an area protection dog, and someone breaks in. The owner blames you or wants a refund, but he purchased the dog twelve months before

and has not attended any lessons.

You supply a dog to a security guard and the dog bites him or a member

of the public or fails to bite so it’s still your fault.

You supply a dog and the owner decides they don’t want the dog anymore

and wants to return it for a full refund.

I supplied a dog to a lady that had a takeaway business and she was very happy until the business went bankrupt and she wanted to return the dog for a full refund twelve months later. I said no but we can buy the dog back and re-sell and she refused.

I then received a small claims court summons in the mail, and I attended court and had to pay her back a full refund. The reason is, she got the dog x-rayed and the hips came back within the breed standard, but as they were not perfect, the dog was considered defective.

Under Queensland small claims if any product, which includes dogs, is defective, the client is entitled to repair, replace or refund. This means that every dog you have ever sold is defective and the client can get a refund.

As a breeder, I provide the stud dog for mating at the kennels. If the bitch does not get pregnant, they will get a repeat mating next time the bitch is in season. There is no refund as you have to board the bitch and spend time with two people supervising the mating.

On one occasion a lady brought her Akita bitch in for a mating and she stayed in the kennel for five days and went home. A few weeks later I received a small claims summons in the mail asking for a 100% refund.

I then saw an advertisement in the paper for Akita pups for sale from the same phone number. A week later she had the bitch advertised for sale. I went to court with the paper clips and lost as the judge awarded her a full refund as the lady said the bitch was not pregnant.

If I wanted to take it further, I would have to take her to court again to prove that the bitch did have pups, but the bitch and pups were all sold. The piece of shit made over $5,000 and then got a refund on the stud fee.

If you decide you wish to have a career in dog training, then it’s a lot easier these days. There are many videos on YouTube and heaps of resources available.

There are also a heap of dog training courses available here and overseas with study at home and block training practical programs available. You will meet other keen students and strike up friendships with a common interest.

When people first start up as a dog trainer, they usually volunteer for rescue groups or do part-time work at boarding kennels or vet assistant or mobile dog washes.

You may have to attend obedience classes or watch trials to gather more experience and above all keep training dogs regularly.

Do not get into the situation where you only learn a select piece of dog training. An example is the ‘pure positive dog training movement’. This is where they will ignore all bad things a dog does and only reward the good with food treats.

This is pushed by the RSPCA and other groups and we now have a new generation of politically correct brainwashed dog trainers.

Veteran dog trainers that may use a choker chain are now been vilified by this brainwashed group. I have nothing at all against pure positive training and I use it a lot, but it’s not the only way to train a dog.

The big thing that pisses me off is that many dogs that have behaviour problems can be fixed very easily by professional dog trainers. But if the dog is rescued, it will be behaviour tested by a welfare organisation to be placed in a new home.

If the dog is food possessive this can be fixed by a professional trainer easily, but pure positive methods may not work, and the dog is then red flagged and put down.

The same is with dog aggressive dog. I can use a choker chain or electric collar and fix the problem. The pure positive way of trying to bribe the dog with a doggie snack will fail, and the dog will be put down as a result.

Many trainers can save hundreds of dogs from death row every year by retraining these homeless dogs from the rescue groups. But welfare will protect these dogs from trainers using a choker chain by killing all the dogs.

I have seen this firsthand where adult healthy dogs were put down instead of been rehomed with a trainer.

An organisation’s training methods may fail and if you refuse to utilise many other training methods to fix the dog’s problem or rehome the dog and as a result that dog gets put to sleep, then you are part of the problem.

Thousands of dogs every year are put down for no other reason than a simple problem that can be easily fixed but to save the dog; you would rather kill it than look at other options.

We also have a generation of brainwashed dog owners that think they cannot teach their dog boundaries.

Some of these new trainers act like religious extremists. The end result is that people are afraid to correct the dog, use a choker chain, or teach boundaries.

They end up with an uncontrollable dog that pulls on the lead, tries to attack other dogs, jumps on you and rank structure problems. All of this because the dog owner is brainwashed and never corrects the dog. It’s okay to use a choker chain and its okay to discipline a dog and teach boundaries.

Learn about all aspects of dog training from the hundreds of different methods including electric collars, choker chains and their uses and abuses.

Even if you don’t agree with them, learn about them.

I have demonstrated the electric collar to many that are totally against them and knew nothing about them. In most cases their opinion changes to how great the electric collar is and the many humane uses it has and the speed the dog learns.

I have trained many members of rescue groups the use of the electric collar and privately they use them and pinch collars and choker chains on their own dogs and client’s dog they are training.

When they get back to their rescue group, they oppose the use of them. Some pure positive trainers that are against all forms of correction secretly use electric and pinch collars at home.

What I’m saying is that the dog training industry is full of shit so don’t get caught up in any minority group that claims to have reinvented the wheel.

Keep open-minded and learn everything about dog training. You can then refine and practise your methods that will define you as a great dog trainer.

As well as the hard work to establish yourself as a dog trainer, you will also have to sacrifice a heap as well.

If you’ve got dogs in for training in your care, you cannot leave, and you become a prisoner of the property. It is so important to find a work /life balance, or you will go crazy and you will be heading to divorce alley.

You will also meet some great people and some scumbags in the dog industry. No matter how hard it gets, never say a bad word about anyone or you become part of the problem.

If a competitor is doing stupid shit, it’s not your job to slander him. Keep your mouth shut and promote your services and talents not bagging your competition.

The Dog Trainer

I will never forget the names of the people that went out of their way to slander me and in some cases, it has cost them dearly.

The industry is not huge and when you’re in it for a long time, you get to know everyone. When a client asked me about a security firm for a big contract, I told them I would not work with anyone that employed them as they had slandered me in the past.

The result was that ten years after the slander, the company lost a big security contract because of twelve slanderous words in a dog training forum about me.

If any trainer that is employed targets me, I contact their employer. One trainer was doing behaviour consultations for a big vet when a client came to the kennels to say I had been slandered. I went straight to the vet surgery had a chat and the trainer was sacked.

You may win an argument with another trainer but then he will mark you for any future karma that he can assist in bringing your way.

I will say again as this is so important: ‘Do not say a bad word about anyone.’

If you have someone slandering you, then call them up and ask and listen to them squirm and try to get out of it.

Better still, pay them a visit and ask face to face why they have this problem with you.

Most are spineless and will back down but at least you are nipping it in the bud before it gets worse.

Although I have given you a warts-and-all description of the realities, there are also many great and rewarding times ahead. Have fun, work hard and love life, and remember there is a big world outside the tiny dog industry.

It can be a very rewarding career so treat everyone with the utmost respect, smile and give them every courtesy.

If you are a perfect lady or gentleman, then you will have nothing to worry about. If you are trying to train to the best of your ability, are humane and ethical in training and business, then hold your head up high.

You will be faced with the naysayers, toxic people, dream-killers, egomaniacs, narcissists, sociopaths and mentally challenged know-it-alls.

But your dream is much bigger, so become a dog trainer and have a wonderful and fulfilling career.

It’s your life and your dream. Let no one stand in the way of them, keep focusing and become blind and deaf to the critics; remove them from your life and do something amazing in dog training.

Work out your business plan and remain focused on achieving your dreams; you will have to keep your employment until you are making enough with your dog training business.

You may be able to include other services from dog washing and walking, to doggy day care or even working as a security guard with a dog.

Before you know it, you will be working full-time in the dog industry as a trainer or part-time to complement with another income.

I have done many firsts and I ensure I document the details and put up public videos on YouTube so the dates cannot be disputed.

Regardless of this, many trainers will try to rewrite history to claim they were the first. I will openly promote and applaud anyone that has the inner action to become the first or get a record find with a dog.

Despite all the videos on YouTube, I have had several people claiming they did it before me, but none providing any proof to back up their claims in the last twenty years except one in 2019 that beat my record.

In 2001, I trained the world’s youngest narcotic detection dog at eleven weeks of age, posted a five-part video on YouTube, and released a video and DVD on the project.

Over the years, people claim they know someone that did it with a younger pup but it’s all BS. In 2019, a trainer filmed and posted a nine-week-old puppy doing searches. This pup is now the world’s youngest.

I trained the world’s first cane toad detection dog Nifty and twelve months later a dog trainer was on YouTube with a dog he just trained claiming it was the first.

I trained the world’s first quoll detection dog Sparky and while I was advertising the training of the dog, another trainer saw this and started training one for a local group, organising media claiming it was the first.

The media contacted me, and I provided the proof mine was the first, the other dog was then trained for something else.

I trained Australia’s first cadaver dog, LB the Bloodhound, then Asia the Labrador. Twelve months after I was doing operational searches, I opened a dog magazine and a local police dog unit did a story on Australia’s first cadaver dogs.

As well as people rewriting history, it’s also inspiring to see a world-first you have done now being done by many other trainers around the world.

Migaloo the world’s first archaeology dog has inspired people who are now training archaeology dogs in Israel, Germany and other countries.

Migaloo holds the world record for the oldest human remains find of 600 years but again I hear about search and rescue groups that have dogs that located graves from before Christ.

They will have to do better than have a dog sit on a marked gravestone. Apart from that soon another dog will be the new world record holder and many new dogs will be trained in digging up the past.

I know I have made a big difference with the thousands of dogs I’ve trained for families. The thousands of dogs that have protected their master from danger. The search dogs that have located missing persons and criminals. The large amount of endangered species saved as a result of the environmental detection dogs and pests removed from the environment by the pest detection dogs. The many people I have inspired and trained who have gone on to be dog trainers or have avoided a dog bite.

Yep I am proud of my dedicated career as a dog trainer and yes, I have made a difference. In the words of the famous Martin Luther King Jr,

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

As a dog trainer: study, learn and practise, have your mentors and the only person you should compete with is your former self. Be the best you possibly can and be the difference this world needs. The best time to start on your career is now.

Make the decision and say, ‘I will be a professional dog trainer and I will start my journey now and within twelve months I will be providing professional dog training services.’

You can do it.


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