BusinessPaws: Where we Begin

Megan Stanley

A year-long series covering the varied facets of operating a small-to-large dog training business. Veteran of the industry, Megan Stanley, imparts knowledge she's gained through more than a decade of growing her training business, Dogma, to a 7 figure going concern with 20 trainers on staff.

Dog training is booming. The global pet care market grew from $216 billion in 2020 to $232 billion in 2021. With an estimated 6.1% compound annual growth rate, that figure will grow to an outstanding $350 billion by 2027. Millennial pet owners, who view their pets as part of the family, make up 35% of that market in the US, and have a growing desire to purchase online and locally. Pet care and services, which includes dog training, is the fastest growing segment of this market over the past 5 years.* On top of this, the dog training industry has experienced an increase in demand from the rise in dog ownership and desire for training help throughout the pandemic.

There are obvious advantages of a growing and in-demand industry; more than enough dogs for trainers, the ability to charge higher prices and an expected growth within your business. However, a booming market does not guarantee a booming business. Many dog trainers see success due to the demand for dog training services but struggle with growth and working far too many hours with little return. Sadly, too many give up their dream career due to the challenges faced with this job, while struggling to make ends meet. Or they work multiple jobs for too long while trying to build their dog training business. No matter where you are in your dog training journey, you likely want to grow your business and free up your time. The below are key areas of focus to help you reach these goals.

Who am I?

My name is Megan Stanley, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA and President of Dogma Training in Calgary, AB. I started the business in 2006 as an independent contractor working with vet clinics, local shelters, rescue groups, and private clients. Dogma is now a 7-figure, award-winning business that consists of two training facilities and an online academy for pet professionals. I have a team of about 20 trainers, and we offer day school, group classes, private training, and online membership-based training programs. My primary goal with Dogma has been to build a business that demonstrates that you can make the best choice for each dog in your care, take care of your team by providing a full-time career in dog training with personal and professional development, and still build a profitable and successful business.

It has not been an easy journey; I have made many mistakes and suffered through some big failures. However, I have not given up, failed forward and learned that these are all important lessons to help me continue to grow. My aim is to build more positive outcomes from these challenges by helping other trainers avoid these same mistakes. I believe that life is too short to not do what we love, so strive to inspire and encourage others to follow their dreams.

Profit is not a bad word

Having a career as a dog trainer means that you can do what you love and make money. However, too often, trainers undercharge for their services and/or undervalue their time. Yes, you may be making money, but are you making a profit? The purpose for every business is to make a profit. Profit is the fuel for growth and sustainability. It is more than just the revenue that a business takes in, as it means that your product or service exceeds the total costs associated with it. This is the basis for generating a return and being able to invest in you and your business for growth. Most dog trainers find the money side of running a business daunting, and as a result, this critical area gets ignored. There are some simple strategies and excellent tools I will share to ensure your business is making a profit.

The other end of the leash matters

Most of us become dog trainers because we love dogs. However, we will limit our potential for growth if we only focus on the dog and not on the success of their owners. The human side of dog training is complex, and it is critical for dog trainers to also set the humans up for success. Customer service for both your two and four legged clients matters and will help you stand out from your competition. Not only that, helping the human half of the leash ensures you will see greater success when helping dogs overcome their concerns and develop into confident, well-mannered canines.

Put yourself first

Most of us dog trainers love what we do and are driven by our passion for dogs. However, that passion can also lead us to over-working and taking care of the needs of others before our own. And on top of that, being an entrepreneur is hard work, requires long hours and can be stressful. I want to show you how to work smarter, not harder. Dog training can be a lucrative career that provides excellent work-life balance. For us to take care of others and our business, we must first take care of ourselves. There are some simple, yet effective ways that I will share with you to ensure you have work-life harmony and can still grow your business.

Over the coming months, I will provide you with more details on the above areas to help you get your business working for you and build resilience to help foster growth. Focus on some key areas in your business, choose to put your needs first and take care of yourself, so that you can work in your dream career and build the life you deserve. To start, over the next 3months, I will share tips and resources on:

  • How Technology can Grow your Business
  • Setting Boundaries for Success
  • Understanding Profit

Have a topic you would like me to cover or an area of business that you would love to learn more about in future posts? Let us know!


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