Dogs are their human’s best friends, and no one quite understands this relationship like a professional trainer. You know how to keep canines happy, healthy, and engaged—and it’s a huge help to clients and their fuzzy counterparts.
It’s important to protect both your business’s and Fido’s best interests. As a dog trainer, you work with pet parents who want to understand their pup’s behavior and needs, and it’s essential to set clear expectations. You must be able to break down service terms and conditions, and the best way to do this is with a professional contract.
But where should you start? Read on to learn the importance of having a dog training contract, its importance for your business, and what it should include.
The importance of professionalism
Dog trainers are animal advocates with a unique skill set that includes patience and persistence. A professional trainer does more than teach pups to roll over—you've worked hard to build a business that betters the lives of dogs and owners alike.
Show clients how seriously you take your profession by curating your business’s image. Create an eye-catching social media page, a website with content that helps dog parents better understand their pets and consistently branded marketing materials. And don’t stop there: Before you take on a new client, show them how deeply you’ve considered all aspects of the training relationship with a contract that stipulates the scope of your services.
3 reasons you should have a dog training agreement
While contracts provide essential legal protection for you and your business, they’re also service agreements that help you and your clients get on the same page about the work you’ll do together. Here are three main features a contract provides:
- Peace of mind: You adore animals and want them to be safe and healthy. A contract can establish a straightforward course of action in the case of an accident or illness. And, in a worst-case scenario—like an unhappy client who claims you didn’t fulfill your work or are liable for an injury—a contract can protect your business.
- Clarity with clients: Good contracts outline terms of service, setting out where, when, and for how long you’ll carry out the professional relationship. These agreements also establish payment terms and methods and company policies. When you sit down with a new client and review your contract, you can answer questions and reiterate the terms so there are no misunderstandings.
- Preparedness: A contract that clearly states the documentation and equipment you’ll need before working with a dog can help a client prepare for the first session. It also shows clients you’re prepared and take the work seriously.
Dog training contract must-haves
While we recommend getting help from a legal professional (or at least using a template) to make a dog training contract, you can also ensure the finished document meets the mark by including the following information:
- The type of dog training: One-on-one clicker training is different from agility classes, so don’t make the mistake of describing your services under a generic header. Be as detailed as possible. Contracts thrive on precise language.
- The type of program: Within the section on the scope of services, clearly describe the training program you offer, how many sessions it contains, and the class length. Specify whether you conduct private training or group classes. Feel free to describe what services you don’t provide (like dog-sitting, grooming, or kenneling) to avoid confusion. If you do offer a board and train program, describe it here.
- Your responsibilities: Explain your role in a training session and where your responsibilities end. If you have insurance, describe what types of events or accidents you can be held liable for (and are covered for).
- Policies: Make sure to describe your cancellation policy, including any penalties for no-shows or early termination of the contract.
- Description of the client: In an editable contract section, describe the animal you’ll be working with. Include the dog’s name, breed, weight, sex, color, and age. Similarly, include details about the dog owner, such as name and contact information.
- Payment terms: Describe how much your dog training services cost, reiterate what they entail, and outline payment schedules and methods.
- Signatures: Don’t forget to sign on the dotted line. The contract should contain both the trainer and dog owner’s signatures. Encourage the pet parent to read the entire agreement before signing so they know what to expect from your training program. Doing a read-through also allows you to iron out questions and avoid future confusion.
Supporting documentation for your sessions
A contract can protect you and your client from misunderstandings, unwanted conflicts, and legal trouble in the event of an accident or emergency. Supplement this document with other documents that provide more comprehensive information. These include:
- A detailed overview of your sessions and the tactics you’ll use. Include how many other dogs you’ll be working with at the same time (if any).
- An emergency contact information form. Detail what happens in the case of emergencies and include a section where the client can specify their preferred veterinarian.
- A medical history form. This allows the client to describe the dog’s allergies, medications, vaccinations, and medical conditions.
- An intake form. Here, clients explain why they are seeking your services, what behavioral problems the dog may have, any specific training goals they hope to achieve, and any previous experience working with a professional trainer.
- A socialization waiver. This is a must-have if the dog you’re training will interact with other animals.
Stay organized with Practice
Once you’ve created and collected all of this important documentation, how do you keep it safe and organized? Don’t worry: we can help.
Practice’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform is specifically designed to assist business owners with storing client data and documents securely. You’ll also gain access to other coaching tools like templates, a booking platform, and secure and easy payments—all of which can take some work off your plate. Get started with Practice and take your dog training business to the next level.