So you've decided to become a dog trainer. Now what?
If you love puppies and pooches of all sorts, then being a dog trainer probably feels like your dream gig. And in many ways, it is.
But while it may feel magical (to you, and certainly to your clients), it can also prompt a heck of a lot of questions.
Like, do you need insurance to be a dog trainer? And if so, what kind? Where can you purchase it? And are there other ways you can (and should) protect your dog training business?
We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know.
Dog training insurance is really important. Here’s why.
Most of the doggos you’re hired to work with aren’t particularly well-behaved – you already know that. But do you know what happens if one of them bites someone standing nearby, or slips off their leash and sustains an injury? What about if you move quickly and end up knocking over an expensive piece of art? Or an owner sues you for failing to correct their canine's questionable conduct?
The reality is that, even if you're a seasoned behaviourist, a lot can go wrong when you’re dealing with unpredictable animals – and costly repairs, steep veterinary bills, and potential lawsuits can all add up quickly. To protect your business from this financial burden (and enjoy a little peace of mind), you need dog training insurance.
What types of insurance do you need as a dog trainer?
Depending on your specific situation, here are the main types of insurance coverage you’ll want to consider:
- General liability insurance: This type of liability insurance covers costly lawsuits if you were to damage someone else’s property or injure a client, a pet or another third party while working. While this coverage is essential for anyone in the pet care industry, including dog walkers, pet sitters, and groomers, it's particularly important for dog trainers. This is because you're not only dealing with unpredictable pups, but you're also putting yourself in the exact scenarios that make them feel so out-of-sorts – and that can increase the likelihood that something doesn't go according to plan.
- Professional liability insurance: This is a big one, too. It protects you in the event your clients were to sue you as a result of real or perceived professional negligence – which essentially means that, if your services didn’t have the effect your clients expected (and they were out money as a result), you could be on the hook. Similar to the scenarios we explored above, this also doesn’t feel all that uncommon, since pet parents may be more likely to blame you than their own furry friend. That’s why this coverage is another must.
- Property insurance: This type of coverage is crucial if you own or rent a physical space where you host clients, conduct training sessions or store equipment. The right policy will cover the cost of repairing or replacing any business property – including things like furniture or equipment – if they are damaged or destroyed as a result of fire, wind, theft, vandalism, water damage and more.
You can typically bundle this type of coverage with general liability coverage to create something called a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). This can not only be more cost-effective, but – in most cases – a BOP will also offer business interruption coverage to protect against financial losses if you’re unable to operate due to extensive damage.
- Commercial auto insurance: If you or your employees use personal vehicles for business purposes, you may need a commercial auto policy to be properly insured. Do you drive to your clients’ homes or head to the park for your training sessions? Do you pick up or drop off any of your dogs? If so, you may not be covered if you’re involved in an accident while on route. Purchasing a commercial auto policy or adding the right endorsement to your personal insurance could do the trick, but we recommend checking with a licensed insurance professional.
- Workers compensation insurance: If you have employees, most states will require you to have this type of insurance to cover their medical costs and lost income if they get injured or become ill due to a work-related event. Even if it’s not required, you know better than anyone that dog bites, scratches, slips, trips, and falls are all fairly common in this type of biz – so we’d still recommend it.
- Animal bailee insurance: This type of coverage is specific to the health and safety of the animals you’re working with. If a pup were to get injured or lost while in your custody, this type of policy would cover things like veterinary bills, advertising costs, and monetary rewards.
- Umbrella insurance: This type of policy essentially boosts the liability limits on your other coverage, like your general liability, professional liability and commercial auto policies. So, if you’re sued and costs are adding up quickly, umbrella insurance will kick in to ensure you don’t have to pay out of pocket for any legal fees or awarded damages.
Where can you find the right dog training insurance?
Talking to a licensed insurance broker can be a great place to start, but if you’d rather do your own research – here are a few good insurers to consider:
- Thimble: Specializing in commercial policies, this insurer aims to keep things simple for small business owners, so you can get a quote quickly. Plus, they offer core coverage tailored to dog trainers.
- Next insurance: This is another insurer fully dedicated to business insurance – and they offer everything from general and professional liability coverage, to BOPs, workers compensation insurance, commercial auto coverage, and more. Check out their pet trainer insurance bundle.
- The Hartford: This seasoned veteran of the insurance world offers customized pet trainer coverage to help you teach with confidence. They’re also known to provide excellent customer service so, if added support is important to you, you may want to give them a try.
- PROfur: Looking for a provider that deals exclusively with insurance for pet care professionals in Canada? Look no further! PROfur offers a Masterplan Insurance Policy to protect you in the event of runaway dogs, accidental injuries to clients or pets, business interruption, and more. They even offer bonding coverage to reimburse your clients if an employee or independent contractor is caught stealing from them.
Are there other ways to protect your dog training business?
Nothing can replace the protection (and the peace of mind!) that dog trainer insurance offers, but there are still other things you could be doing to ensure your business is properly protected. Here are a few ideas:
- Stay up to date on your training: The dog trainer industry may be unregulated, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid certification or re-training. Dedicating time to your professional development will help you brush up on the latest techniques you need to succeed and build trust with your clients – both of which help decrease the likelihood that a claim will be made against you.
- Get your clients to sign a contract: We’ve already outlined many of the things that can go sideways when it comes to canine care – and a good contract (like a good insurance policy) will help mitigate some of those risks. Not sure where to start? Check out these must-haves for dog training contracts.
- Consider registering your business as an LLC: While it’s easy to set up your business as a sole-proprietorship or DBA (“doing business as”), sometimes it can make more sense to become a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to ensure your personal assets are adequately protected if things go south. Check out these key differences between a DBA and LLC and talk to a legal professional about what makes the most sense for you.
More peace of mind, so you can focus on the pups
Being a small business owner is never easy, but running your own dog training operation can come with its own set of unique challenges. The good news? Having the right insurance coverage will help you rest easy regardless of what the doggos have in store for you each day.
Plus, don't forget that you can also enjoy a little more peace of mind with Practice – an all-in-one client management system that simplifies your contracts, invoicing, scheduling and more. Check us out today!