8 min read

15 Amazing Dog Trainer Academies in the US


Written by Wag! Staff

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/05/2020, edited: 01/11/2023


Dog training is a rewarding career path that benefits pets and their parents in innumerable ways, from helping dogs overcome their fears and learn household manners to helping rescues adjust to their new homes. But if you want to become a dog trainer, where do you get started? Or, if you're already a dog trainer, how can you level up your skills?

Dog trainer hopefuls often start the certification process by volunteering at dog shelters, adoption centers, and veterinary clinics to gain experience with pooches of all ages and sizes. Then, it’s time to learn training methods and undergo the certification process.

Schools like these top 15 dog trainer academies offer a variety of innovative programs on understanding and strengthening the human-animal bond. Read on to learn about some of the top dog trainer schools in the US and what programs they offer.  

Starmark Academy

Location: Hutto, Texas

Duration: 4–12 weeks

Cost range: $6,795–$11,795

Course options:   

  • Pet Obedience Theory and Application Program 
  • Canine Training Specialist Program 
  • Canine Training and Behavior Specialist Program

This school works with animal rescue facilities across Texas to train dogs in need and prepare them for their "furever" home. At Starmark Academy, prospective dog trainers can bring along an untrained dog, or the academy will assign them a local shelter dog to train.

Courses at Starmark include advanced behavior, kennel management, competitive obedience, and more. The Starmark campus offers student housing, a fenced-in sports field, and a state-of-the-art training facility complete with agility equipment, supplies for search-and-rescue and scentwork, and everything else you'll need to become a dog trainer. All courses require participants to purchase an additional $300 training equipment package. 

School for Dog Trainers at Highland Canine Training LLC

Locations: Harmony, North Carolina and Hanceville, Alabama

Duration: 6–24 weeks

Cost range: $5,650–$17,775

Course options: 

  • Master dog trainer
  • Obedience and behavior program (most popular)
  • Police K9 dog trainer
  • Service dog trainer
  • Detection dog training
  • Search-and-rescue dog trainer

This 50-acre, state-of-the-art dog training campus is home to prospective trainers studying to become K9 police dog trainers, search-and-rescue dog trainers, and more. Those new to the industry may study for as long as 24 weeks. Those already in the field of dog training can take one of the 6-week courses at Highland Canine Training LLC.

This academy has two locations: the main campus in Harmony, North Carolinaand its Southeast Campus in Hanceville, Alabama. Veterans and family members of veterans should keep in mind that the master training program is approved for GI bill and VA benefits; however, programs at the Alabama campus are not.

The Academy for Dog Trainers

Location: Worldwide virtual programs; head office is in Emeryville, California

Duration: Self-paced, with coursework available for up to 2 years

Cost: $7,525

Course options: One comprehensive online course that covers training, behavior problems, body language, conflict types, desensitization, client counseling, psychotropic medications, and more

The Academy for Dog Trainers is an intensive course led by a team of experts from all over the world, covering topics like aggression, reactivity, and client counseling. Prospective trainers should expect to spend 12 to 15 hours per week (or more) attending online webinars and participating in video coaching.

While the Academy's course is self-paced, students must complete all their courses within 2 years of enrollment. Each module must be completed within 6 months. To complete the training program, you'll need to shoot and upload videos of you working with dogs and applying what you've learned.

Catch Canine Trainers Academy

Location: Little Falls, New Jersey

Duration: Self-paced, with courses lasting 6–18 months on average

Cost range: $1,212–$5,025

Course options: 

  • Pro dog trainer (core skills course)
  • Dog training & behavior (basics pro course)
  • Master class course (most thorough course offering)

Catch Canine Trainers Academy combines at-home instruction with on-campus courses to provide a well-rounded and flexible learning experience to prospective trainers. The curriculum is innovative and varied, covering everything from dog body language to business management.

If program participants need extra guidance, there are always mentor trainers available to help — the best part is these services are included in the tuition cost!

The Tom Rose School

Location: High Ridge, Missouri

Duration: 8–50 weeks

Cost range: $6,990–$17,950*

Course options: 

  • Professionals course
  • Master course
  • Ultimate course
  • Service dog trainer course

The Tom Rose School offers extensive in-person training in multiple disciplines. Students are required to pass testing in AKC agility, specific odor detection, therapy dog training, and other training subjects in addition to basic obedience.

The duration of the course varies depending on the program you choose. The Professionals course is a 15-week program, while the Masters and Service Dog courses are 8 weeks long. The Rose Scholar course is an invite-only, 50-week program available to select graduates of the Masters program.

*Note on cost: The Leaders Program is a recommended prerequisite for the Master and Professional courses. If students choose not to complete the Leaders Program, an additional fee will apply for each class.

Long-haired brown dog giving a dog trainer a high-five on command

Animal Behavior College

Location: Valencia, California; workshops available across the US and Canada

Duration: 6 months

Cost range: $9,717 (payment plans available) 

Course options: Dog Obedience Instructor Training Program

At Animal Behavior College (ABC), students practice training techniques on shelter dogs to ready them for life outside the shelter. The college's Students Saving Lives campaign has partnerships and facilities in all 50 states to match online students with local shelter dogs and mentor facilities for in-person workshops. ABC's curriculum is based on the LIMA principles, which implements scientific approaches for effective and safe dog training.

Top Tier K9

Location: Madison, Florida

Duration: Courses vary in length depending on the tier you choose

Cost range: $1,650–$3,950*

Course options:

  • Pet training class
  • Foundation Dog® trainer program
  • Master programs (including service dog training programs and business classes)

Offering both in-person and online learning opportunities, Top Tier K9 training schools can help up-and-coming trainers study a wide variety of training fields. These include service dog training, pet training, and even safe catch decoy training. Business development and project management courses are also available at Top Tier's 4 locations across Florida.

One of the coolest parts about this dog training school is its virtual reality dog training center. Enter the Metaverse to discover a dog training education program unlike any other. For students who prefer a more familiar mode of education, video and online learning options are also available.

*Note on cost: For students who choose to live on campus, living and travel expenses are not included in this cost range.

Tarheel Canine Training School


Location: Sanford, North Carolina

Duration: 2 weeks–6 months

Cost range: $650–$13,750*

Course options: 

  • Professional trainer/instructor’s course
  • Master trainer course
  • Police K-9 trainer/instructor’s course
  • K-9 detection and search-and-rescue trainer’s course
  • Professional obedience trainer’s course
  • Master obedience trainer courses
  • Accelerated and online courses

Offering a wide range of training courses and seminars all across the country, Tarheel Canine is one of the best dog training schools in the US. The student-to-teacher ratio is 3:1, ensuring you receive the individual attention you need to thrive as a trainer.

You'll get the opportunity to work with dogs of all breeds and sizes who are training to become K9 police dogs, detection dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and more. Tarheel graduates are welcome to return to campus for 2 weeks each year to brush up on their training knowledge for no additional charge. Courses are flexible, and staff will work with you to ensure your training educations fits around your busy schedule.

*Note on cost: Training materials and on-campus housing costs are not included in this range.

Karen Pryor Academy

Location: Waltham, Massachusetts; workshops available in select states

Duration: 6 weeks–8 months

Cost range: $250–$5,700

Course options: 

  • Dog trainer professional
  • Dog trainer comprehensive
  • Dog trainer foundations

Karen Pryor Academy combines online teaching, video instruction, and in-person workshops for a unique experience to prepare students for a successful dog training career. Even pet parents can benefit from the academy's online Foundations course, which doesn't require any prior training experience and takes just 6 weeks to complete.

This school doesn't supply dogs for students to work with. While having a dog with is not required to complete the course, it's recommended for prospective trainers to make the most of their experience.

Jo-Thor’s Dog Trainer’s Academy

Location: Alpharetta, Georgia

Duration: 160–840 hours

Cost range: $4,895–$19,975

Course options: 

  • Online Dog Educator/Trainer Course 101 (online only)
  • Basic Dog Educator /Trainer Course 201
  • Professional Dog Educator/Trainer Course 301
  • Advanced Dog Educator/Trainer Course 401
  • Master Dog Educator/Trainer Course 501 (includes AKC Evaluator Course)
  • Advanced Master Dog Educator/Trainer Course 601

Jo-Thor's offers unique courses and opportunities, like learning to train dogs for movies and commercials. (The school even doubles as a dog talent agency!)

The academy also covers the basics, from obedience fundamentals and behavioral problems to canine nutrition and business management. Online and in-personal classes are available, and all courses (except for the online dog educator course) accept VA benefits.

Rocky Mountain Regional Dog Training Academy

Location: Denver, Colorado

Duration: 3–12 months

Cost range: $2,600–$10,000

Course options: 

  • Beginner Dog Trainer Program
  • Intermediate Dog Trainer Program
  • Advanced Dog Trainer Program

Students at Rocky Mountain Region Dog Training Academy will receive 50+ hours of hands-on training with dogs of various sizes and breeds, including shelter and rescue dogs awaiting adoption. In addition to dog training fundamentals, students will also learn the ins and outs of running a dog training business, including marketing, maintaining client relationships, and more. The school's Facebook group is a "grrreat" way for pupils to keep in touch after graduation and share their tips and stories.

Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Duration: 10 hours–9 months

100+ hours of instruction which typically takes 6 months of online coursework but may be completed in up to 12 months. In-person instruction

Cost range: $299–$3,950

Course options: 

  • Fundamental Dog Training and Behavior Course
  • Dog Trainer Course (online and in-person options available)

Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior offers flexible dog training education options for both pet parents and prospective dog trainers. The fundamentals course is a good choice for pet parents who are looking to deepen their knowledge of canine psychology to strengthen their bond with their dog. This course offers 10 hours of educational video content — perfect for busy pet people who just want to learn the basics.

Prospective certified dog trainers can take the online or in-personal dog trainer course, which involves training intensives and field studies that test students' knowledge of the material. Students will partner with an advisor, who will guide them through the course and provide hands-on lessons.

National K-9 Learning Center

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Duration: 3–6 weeks

Cost range:  $6,995–$12,995*

Course options: 

  • Professional obedience trainer course
  •  Master trainer course

National K-9 Learning Center features both indoor and outdoor spaces (including a 1-acre field) for training instruction and hands-on practice. Program participants may bring their own untrained dog,  solicit the help of a friend's pet, or work with dogs from local families who are in the training program. All canines live on campus with the students.

*Note on cost: Housing costs an additional $850–$1,650.

The Dog Trainer College

Location: Spencer, Indiana

Duration: 4–20 weeks for in-person classes; online courses are self-paced and available for up to 1 year

Cost range: $3,000–$15,900

Course options: 

  • Behavior and Obedience (on-campus and online options)
  • Service Dog Trainer (on-campus and online options)
  • Police K9 Instructor (on-campus and online options)
  • Protection Dog Trainer
  • Cadaver Detection
  • Scent Detection
  • Master Trainer

If you're looking for an intensive, fast-track way to become a certified dog trainer, look no further than The Dog Trainer College in Spencer, Indiana. The rural campus offers lectures, tests, and innovative hands-on training, although they do have distance learning programs for behavior and obedience training certification.

Pupils can bring up to two dogs with them to train or can use a dog provided by the school. The Dog Trainer College also offers reasonably priced housing for students, but this is separate from tuition. 

Animal Behavior Institute

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Duration: 6 months–1 year

Cost range: Courses are $1,260* each. To complete the 5-course tuition will total $6,300. Specialized certificate courses which total 3 courses cost $3,780*

*Tuition does not include program materials and application fees 

Course options: 

  • Canine training and behavior (specialized certificate)
  •  Canine Sports Training (specialized certificate)
  • Service & Therapy Dog Training
  • Animal Training & Enrichment
  • Advanced Canine Training

This creative distance education program involves engagement with instructors and fellow classmates in an online environment. The Animal Behavior Institute provides weekly feedback and the chance to work on collaborative projects. This academy even offers instruction on animal-assisted therapy,.

Dog trainer with a German Shepherd dog sitting in the grass for a treat

Interested in pursuing a career in animal training? Consider signing up to become a dog trainer on the Wag! platform to help you build your clientele and repertoire. The Wag! app connects pet parents with both in-home and virtual dog trainers to make training their pets more convenient than ever.

Already certified? Sign up to become a Pet Caregiver to grow your business, meet new four-legged friends, and join a growing community of passionate pet people!

Comments (3)



The Dog Brain Training Course is fantastic. It improved my dog's behavior, and the instructor's dedication was outstanding. I'll recommend it to fellow dog owners. Course link - https://1b3c0gv9zjjucs3715x896wa2f.hop.clickbank.net

Brian Threlkeld


I am looking for the best way to get started with becoming a dog trainer. I live in Memphis, Tennessee (Cordova, actually) and would love some advice as to which school is best for me. Thanks for your help!

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