BusinessPaws: 5 Mistakes Dog Trainers Make that Lead to Burnout

Megan Stanley

Burnout is a serious issue that all business owners and working professionals should take note of and take necessary precautions and actions to stave it off. Your clients, colleagues, family, friends and most importantly, you, all benefit. What could be leading you down the path to burnout?

BusinessPaws: 5 Mistakes Dog Trainers Make that Lead to Burnout

The dog training industry is booming. We’ve seen consistent growth and with the rise of pandemic puppies, trainers are busy! This creates growth opportunities, along with challenges, as trainers try to manage the growth, avoid burnout and ensure their business is running smoothly.

What is burnout?

It was first defined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974. He described it as “a depletion or exhaustion of a person’s physical or mental resources attributed to his or her prolonged, yet unsuccessful striving toward unrealistic expectations, internally or externally derived.”

This is not just about stress. It is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. The pandemic has caused this for people allover the globe and I am hearing from many of my colleagues as they struggle with the demand on dog trainers. Business may be booming, but we’ve got to take care of ourselves to successfully grow and maintain our business. Burnout can lead to a loss of passion in our work, create resentment, cause health concerns and more. Too many trainers are struggling with overwhelm so I am going to list the most common mistakes I witness dog trainers make that lead to them to burnout.

Don’t set boundaries

If you take calls at all hours, don’t have days off or find yourself losing time due to last minute cancellations, you need to take time to create some boundaries within your business. We often mistake our inability to set boundaries as delivering good customer service in an effort to meet our clients’ needs. However, when we sacrifice our time, we may be sacrificing our well-being. This is one of the easiest ways to cause burnout as you struggle to find time for yourself. Take a read through my recent article on setting boundaries for more details if this an area you need to focus on.

Try to do it all themselves

It’s normal for a business owner to where many hats. However, it’s critical to avoid burnout that you don’t try to do it all. If you are working long days, seven days a week and haven’t had a break in months, you are doing too much. The hustle culture has created this misconception that success in business only comes from working 24/7. You will eventually burnout, so you must find ways to take work off your plate. This does not mean that you see less revenue. If you do this well, you will grow your business and free up more time for yourself to perform better within your business.

Trying to do it all yourself also means that you will be doing many things well (or not well) versus doing a few things exceptionally well. Think about areas that you are not skilled in or do not enjoy and identify the best way to get these off your plate. This does not mean you need to hire new employees. Consider what you can outsource. Some popular items are accounting, social media, and office administration work. There are experts who will not only build a stronger business foundation and brand but will likely do a better job than you as well.

Worry about what others are doing

Have you struggled with imposter syndrome? This is when you feel like a phony – like you are not good and/or do not have the skills, talents or accomplishments required to succeed. Many business owners feel this way, so you are not alone. It does seem to be prevalent within dog trainers. Do you find yourself asking if you have enough certifications, experience or is what you are offering good enough? Social media has which has heightened our feelings of insecurity and doubt. It’s easy to compare and it’s another area where too many dog trainers struggle.

The time we spend comparing ourselves to others and worrying about what they are doing is taking time away from our business. It adds to feelings of negativity and drains our energy. Free up your time and improve your mental health by stopping the practice of worrying about what others are doing. Utilize social media to be inspired by what others are doing. For any practices that bring up negative feelings, consider muting or unfollowing these accounts and focus on what you do instead.

Don’t invest in software

There are many reasons dog trainers don’t invest in software. Often, this is due to the cost. To save the expense of software, many choose to do this work manually – not recognizing the cost to the business because of time or lack of data integrity/communication. We often don’t commit to software as we are feeling too busy and don’t have the time to get it setup. This is an area you cannot afford to ignore. Set some time aside to make this happen. Read BusyPaw’s post on Software for Dog Trainers and my post on Technology for Dog Training Businesses. The right software improves business processes and the client experience, provides freedom and will attribute to greater success.

Don’t charge enough

Are you managing long waitlists and can’t keep up to demand? Do you feel like there is more work than you are able to take on? If you answered yes, this could be a sign that your pricing needs to be increased. Could you be charging a higher rate, working less hours, and bringing in the same or more revenue? Don’t just compare your rates to those around you. Review your experience, credentials and what you uniquely offer.

It’s important to understand profit and price accordingly. If this is an area you are not comfortable with, it is one you want to focus on. Take a read through my post on Profits in Dog Training and Dog Daycares for more on this important topic. I would recommend including rate increases in your early plan. Offering your services at a low rate not only impacts you negatively and can lead to burnout, but it also lessens the value of dog training. Let’s help everyone grow and elevate by ensuring we are charging our worth.


Burnout can have serious impact on our health and business. If you read this and can identify mistakes you have made, know that we all get trapped in these at times. The key is that you can identify and correct them. These are critical for you and your business’s well-being, so take the time to address them now as a part of your self care. You, your clients, and your business will thank you for it.

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