Just this morning I updated my class calendar. I can’t believe that I have 17 in person classes on the schedule! I’m most well known for teaching online but seminars & webinars and in person classes round out my weeks and months. All of these come together to make me a successful full-time dog trainer. What I want to talk about is what does that mean? A Successful Full-time Dog Trainer. What is that? What about even doing this part-time? (which is completely possible and the best place to start)… However, assuming that you have the ambition to become a “Successful Full-Time Dog Trainer”, how do you get there from here?

Plant growing in book

As most of us know, you probably won’t get rich doing this… but you WILL be fulfilled. As someone who left a lucrative six figure salary in “Corporate” I can tell you that quitting my job was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I work longer and harder now but it doesn’t feel like work anymore! Sure, I get exhausted. Teaching yesterday from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM with setup and cleanup was tiring. Sure, I came home and fell asleep immediately! But I was HAPPY all day…

Can you tell that I love what I do?

That’s the first step by the way… LOVE WHAT YOU DO. When you do this thing, LOVE IT. I mean with all of your mind, body and soul. PASSION is one of the keys to being successful. I’m not talking Passion for the Sport… well, you have to have that too. You have to truly love the sport. I’m talking though about Passion for Teaching. You have to truly love sharing your knowledge and seeing other people be successful and thrive. As a TEACHER… your success is best demonstrated through your students’ success. If you are one of those who needs to be more important than others or more successful than others, your success as a TEACHER will be short-lived. You might enjoy a brief stint as someone who is in the know, but ultimately your students will leave you in favor of people-who-care.

Notice that I’m using the title, TEACHER, very purposefully. There is a distinction there that is truly important. Verbal Distinctions have meaning. My use of the word has an educational intent. I want to distinguish between “Instructor” and “Teacher”. The two words have very different connotations however initially you might not think so. Instructor is a title. It means that you tell people how to do an activity. You Instruct. As a TEACHER, you have more responsibilities. You impart knowledge in a way that signifies caring and commitment to learning. You become committed to the success of your students. THAT is a TEACHER. Do you want to TEACH? Think back to your time in school or reflect on your own trainers that you’ve worked with. Who do you remember? Who were your TEACHERS? What qualities did they possess? Did they INSPIRE?

I can teach you about how to structure a class, communicate concepts using the latest theories in adult learning, deal with students and their dogs but the most important aspect of becoming a TEACHER comes from within. I can’t generate this from you. You have to reach inside on your own and produce the passion. If you can do this, your students will be loyal and you will become successful. THAT is the secret to becoming a “Successful Full-time Dog Trainer”.


Then of course comes KNOWLEDGE. Passion and Inspiration is a start but you need to really know what you are doing. You need to have VISION and DEEP DEEP understanding of your body of knowledge. If you don’t have that, get it. Read. Study. Practice. Experiential Learning will get you there. KNOWLEDGE is understanding and internalizing your subject matter. Can you bring forth information at will without effort? That’s where you want to be when you teach. VISION is the framework that ties your knowledge together into a neat little package that allows you to communicate concepts to your students.

Then there is the aspect of SUCCESS. You have to be out there, doing that, and doing it well. If you aren’t currently, then you need credentials in lieu of competing. Credentials come from current and/or past success and proof of knowledge.  EXPERIENCE is a hard-earned element of KNOWLEDGE. Do you have to win? Not necessarily… winning is a function of the skills and talent of your dog. Not all of us have high-drive, uber talented dogs in our homes. If you do win in addition to earning the titles, you will have it easier. However, the old adage of “winning isn’t everything” is true. Sure, it might attract new students, however it’s not how you retain them. Retaining students is a function of being a TEACHER.

So far the formula consists of PASSION, INSPIRATION, KNOWLEDGE, and SUCCESS. These are the What’s. Then there are the How’s… How do you successfully demonstrate PASSION, INSPIRATION, KNOWLEDGE, and SUCCESS.  What we need to understand though is that this is a journey.

If you’re interested in more, please check out my October 2017 class, NW700 Lead By a Nose: The Art of Nosework Instruction where I can and will set you on the right path for your journey and give you some pretty cool tools at the same time. Keep in mind that the journey continues. We are all students with responsibility for our own education. Seek to learn. You are in the right place for that.