How It Works

An Overview of VSPDT Membership

Yes, it’s true. Applying for membership in Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training can be a lengthy and thorough process (for good reasons, see below). Then there’s the license area to figure out. And the list of marketing tools, materials, and opportunities. It’s a lot to take in, we know.

So where to begin? Here’s an overview of the 3 steps to membership:

1:  The Application Process
2:  The Licensing Process
3:  The Implementation Process

1:  The Application Process

To be eligible for membership, you need to:

Meet certain criteria. For example, you must be a currently practicing professional trainer (for at least 2 years) using only positive training methods. (See our definition of ‘positive training’ here.)

Fill out an application and gather a number of items to submit along with it, including an essay, client references, and a video submission of you training.

Be available for a phone consultation which we schedule after we receive the full application package and pre-approve you. If the consultation is successful, you’re invited to submit your evaluation videos.

Submit your evaluation videos.  These all-important videos are reviewed by the VSPDT team to ensure your methods, training philosophies and skill level are a good match with VSPDT.

Depending on how long it takes to write the essay and create the dog training video, the whole process can be completed in about 2 weeks, but most take longer. (For a detailed overview, visit How To Join.)

Why Such An Involved Process?

Victoria puts her personal stamp of approval on the VSPDT program and every single member, so we need to make certain each licensee is a competent professional dog trainer who uses only positive training methods.

If a VSPDT trainer turned out to not fully ascribe to the Positively mission, Victoria’s reputation—and with it the value of the Positively brand—would suffer. As would the dog, whose owner chose a VSPDT trainer in good faith. Obviously, we don’t allow either to happen.

Also, we want to provide you an opportunity to get to know Victoria and her team personally.  That’s a key ingredient to being able to successfully market yourself side-by-side with her.

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2: The Licensing Process

An individual license costs $295 per year.
A premier license costs $495 per year.
A facility license
, for facilities or businesses employing more than one dog trainer, costs $1,495 per year.

Individual licenses cover a geographical area with a population of roughly 100,000.

A premier license, an option for licensees who want to secure a larger area/population, covers 250,000 people. The area is agreed on in detail with each licensee and no other licenses are granted there.

(For more details, visit All About Licenses.)

Licensee Density

Our licensing model employs overall population figures, number of dog-owning households, and dog owners seeking training (around 10%). This system works well for the majority of the United States. For area of extreme population density, such as New York City, we apply common sense and decide a fair boundary in collaboration with licensees.  Read more at All About Licenses.

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3: The Implementation Process

How do you integrate the VSPDT program with your existing business? The short answer is: Any way you like.

New to the industry? If you have so far operated with just a business card and a homemade trifold brochure, you might choose to go all out. Have a logo designed around your VSPDT membership, use the free VSPDT business cards, don Positively t-shirts, hand out VSPDT-branded trifold brochures you have customized, and use your free email address for forwarding.

Well established? If you have been in business for a while and your brand is well known in your community, you would choose based on personal preference.

Subtle co-branding might involve a 30-second welcome video by Victoria on the home page of your website that presents you as a member of the VSPDT team, a photo on your About web page of you and Victoria, and the words “a certified Victoria Stilwell trainer” added to your business card and other marketing materials.

Stronger co-branding might involve a redesign of your identity to incorporate the VSPDT logo alongside your own as well as everything mentioned above and much more: A radio spot of Victoria speaking your script, for example, and co-branded apparel for your staff.

(As a licensee, your Welcome Package would include a handbook with marketing advice and guidance for getting started. We recommend new members read it carefully and draw up a 6-month marketing plan to ensure they make the most of their affiliation with VSPDT.)

To learn how one trainer did this, read a VSPDT Case Study.

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“Victoria’s celebrity has given my business new life and is helping to make my dreams come true. The opportunities are there for the taking.” –Linda Michaels, CPDT-KA, La Jolla to Carlsbad, CA



Find out how one dog trainer increased her income by 50% percent by adding the VSPDT factor to her marketing.



Locate a great positive reinforcement trainer in your area:


  • Apply now and submit your evaluation video for review.


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