I’m about to give you what I believe to be the ultimate plan to have a successful life in dog training. If you know me, you know I’m big on CONCEPTS. Once you understand concepts, then they can be applied almost anywhere in your training. Concepts will guide you to success as fast as possible.

If you are already successful, this will show you how to go to an even higher level with less work and effort.

I’ve crafted these concepts over a journey I’ve been navigating for the last 40 years. This journey has led to tremendous success. But, it wasn’t always easy, I’ve had my share of struggles. If you are able to master these concepts, they will drastically increase your chances of success and minimize the struggles and failures people typically face.

First, we must define Success.

Here’s my basic definition of success:

Success is doing something every day because you absolutely love to do it. It is the ability to master and perform what you are crazy about at a very high level. Finally, success means your craft gives your life purpose and a lifestyle that you love.

Sounds simple right? In this case, the “thing” we’re talking about is dog training, and the “lifestyle” will be a little different for everyone reading this.

But this lifestyle will have two commonalities: You will love what you are doing every single day, which gives you tremendous motivation and energy, and it will give you plenty of money so you can be stress-free to enjoy all the things in life we need money to enjoy.

Which brings us to a very important point that nearly everyone is DEAD WRONG about…

The key to success is hard work.

I would disagree! Working hard, “grinding” as they say, to achieve things you are not passionate about will leave you frustrated, tired, miserable, and broke. Working hard against your passions will not lead to success, no matter how hard you work.

Now here is something everyone underestimates: You cannot do the things you love in the wrong environment at the wrong time and become successful.

The key to success is mastering doing the things you love in an environment that allows you to be successful.

Mastering something is where effort comes into play. But, without the first two parts of that formula, effort is useless. Let’s clarify what I mean when I say, “environment.” The environment for success is not just where you do something. It’s who you do it with. Who is your coach? Who is on your team? Who is the audience for your product or service? Timing is also incredibly important. Choosing the right time to do something is vital. All of these things matter.

Are you a dog trainer or content creator?

There is a HUGE trend for dog trainers to become content creators. Industry “coaches” and marketers have convinced dog trainers that posting content constantly and attempting to create a big following on social media is the road to success. If you are on Instagram, you have seen the constant short “reels” that are mostly repetitive word salad nonsense. All sizzle, no steak.

Trainers actually make fools out of themselves just to get views and the almighty follow. These trainers go “live” on social media constantly, repeating the same thing they’ve said a million times, or even worse, when they have absolutely nothing valuable to say at all…There are so many problems with this approach. The first and most obvious one is: You are doing something ANYONE can easily do.

Let’s be honest, any moron can log into those apps and post nonsense on social media all day. The barrier of entry and skill level to do this is ZERO. Which makes the competition extremely high. That’s why we (me and my TWC team) are not in the content creating and followers game. I have never been interested in hoarding followers who spend all day flipping through 10 seconds reels hoping to find the next big “influencer”.

We are in the business of teaching people who want to MASTER the art of dog training.

This is where all of this gets REALLY GOOD. In order to secure REAL success, you must have a high-level mastery of your craft. This makes you unique and nearly impossible to copy. This creates your very own barrier of entry. There is no barrier of entry to become a dog trainer. Anyone can wake up tomorrow and claim to be one.

How many people have you seen on social media that trained their personal dog, and suddenly decided they are a professional trainer? Way too many.

But let’s be crystal clear about this: A different barrier of entry does exist in dog training. For example, there is a massive barrier of entry to opening a dog training business in the town that I live in. There is now a huge barrier of entry in the towns of some of my TWC certified trainers. Trainers who become good and eventually great at the Training Without Conflict® concepts are vastly different from the average trainer who does what everyone else is doing. They know how to show and prove it to their prospects and clients without Instagram Reels, Facebook Lives, and social media buzzwords.

Now, let’s not go down a bad path here. I’m NOT telling you to become a TWC trainer. This might shock you, but right now I’m going to advise against it. Here is why:

The first step in reaching the success we are talking about is to figure out what YOU should be working on.

You need to have a very clear picture of your goals, and the knowledge and skill you will need to acquire to achieve them.

Notice, I said YOU… I am not talking about anyone else. Just you. I can tell you, dog training, in general, was a great choice. There is a ton of opportunity in the dog training industry for the kind of success we are talking about. So, now you must decide what skills you must acquire and master. To do that, you need to be exposed to different concepts and methods. You need to come to your own conclusions about which roads you want to travel.

But please understand this: You must choose a road where you have some talent.

Talent combined with the right knowledge opens the door to creativity.

This might upset some people, but genetics matter. Not just in dogs, but also in humans. To be truly great at anything, you must have some natural talent. This includes dog training. It isn’t hard to be marginally better than someone else. Not everyone can be exceptional and great at what they do. Having natural talent allows you to master skills faster and also enjoy performing them. It also allows you to become extremely creative in your craft. Creativity leads to serious breakthroughs and uniqueness.

At this point, your skills, creativity, and knowledge will allow your work to feel like play, while it appears like hard work to everyone else. This will allow you to rise to the top and stand out from the crowd. It is very important to be exposed to many approaches and people in dog training. Once you have exposed yourself to many different trainers, methods, and concepts, you will have a very important decision to make.

You should only choose ONE to really learn from. This is so important. You need to go DEEP with one method and have a coach who can guide you. Talent can be wasted without proper coaching. A great coach leads talent to greatness. Learning your craft from a true master allows you to play with ideas while advancing the craft simultaneously. It’s not a job. You are in a playground. I can't even put into words how much this changes everything.

Imagine if you currently possess the talent and just need the right person coaching you… That’s when real magic happens. You have no idea how great you can be until you have the right concepts, techniques, motivation, and coach. The vast majority go through life just winging it.

Real, high-level success is not an accident.

Sure, luck exists. Some people do get lucky. They are always one hit wonders and have a very hard time holding on to their success because they have no clue how they got it and it’s not reproducible. I’ve read about “influencers” who went viral and got a huge following and they have no idea how it happened. They posted some stuff, and one piece of content just took off. This is not a sustainable road to success. It’s playing the lottery. And it often ends as quickly as it took off. So, expose yourself to what’s out there in the dog world. See where you have some talent and can have a great coach to help you master your craft and be truly unique.

This is when future clients seek you out. That’s what all this is about. Being so good and unique that you do not have to post Instagram Reels all day and pray that someone will find you interesting enough to hire. Instead, you become so good and unique that dog owners and even other trainers chase you. This makes your work a playground. You love every day of your life. And money… Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore.

One last thing that I must talk about…

As most people have experienced or heard, we are rapidly headed for a recession. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to get political… Having been through a few recessions myself, one thing I can tell you for sure, recessions are a serious shakedown in the dog training profession. Many potential clients will skip training their dogs to pay their mortgage and keep food on the table. The market will shrink and there will be pain in the industry. The wealthy are the least affected by recessions, and they will still be getting their dogs trained. When this happens, and the market shrinks, who do you want to be…?

The elite, master of your craft that offers unique and powerful solutions to clients problems, or the social media content creator that trains dogs just like everyone else? Slick marketing only fools people for so long… Building a real business based on real mastery of your craft that over delivers for your clients is the ONLY road to overwhelming and lasting success. That’s what will make you recession proof. That’s what will give you that success we’ve been talking about.

Expose yourself to what’s out there in the dog training world. When you find your talent, put it in the hands of a great coach and true master. Then, put all your effort into becoming great. Become a true master of your craft. Your entire life will change.


About the Author

Ivan Balabanov is known worldwide for his paradigm shifting knowledge in dog training. Although many possess the ability to train a dog, few people have the gift of teaching other trainers how to train a dog to a world championship level like Ivan. His experience includes 30 years of development, raising and training over 1,000 puppies, winning 12 National and 2 World Championships, and helping thousands of trainers around the world through the TWC Certification Programs.

Learn More About Ivan