Federal Way man’s dog training business thrives during pandemic

What started as man’s best friend has turned into a thriving business opportunity for a Federal Way resident.

Marcus Wright, a 2005 Federal Way High School graduate, is the owner of The Northwest Dog Trainer, 22659 Pacific Highway South in Des Moines. He set a goal of improving people’s relationships with their pups through training.

“Seeing the transformation as dogs learn and progress improve people’s relationships and their household — that’s amazing,” Wright said.

The owner of six dogs himself (four American bullies, an 120-pound Italian Mastiff and a Jagdterrier), Wright has been a lifelong dog lover.

In high school, he often spent time between classes or after school at local dog parks. College brought him into a 10-year career of insurance and finance work, but Wright knew his calling was with canines.

He spent years learning the tricks of training through seminars and working with a mentor in Tacoma. Slowly, Wright built a network of local trainers and continued to learn about both the business and instruction.

He decided to build his own business as a dog trainer in October 2019, and it began to take off around spring 2020 — just as the pandemic struck.

“It was terrifying,” he said of starting a new business venture ahead of a worldwide pandemic. “At that time, I was still doing both [jobs], and dog training was supposed to be a hobby.”

Thanks to a swell of “pandemic puppies” and support from the community, Wright left the insurance business and became a full-time dog trainer in 2021. Despite 12-hour days training dogs, Wright said it rarely ever feels like work.

The Northwest Dog Trainer sees about 40 dogs per week and is centered on obedience training. Wright says they take any and all dogs, regardless of size, breed or behavioral issues.

From engagement and creating structural boundaries to focus and basic commands, Wright said proper training can improve the longevity of a household and their four-legged friend in reducing rehoming rates.

Clients often come from Federal Way, SeaTac, Des Moines and Burien, and it’s not uncommon for Wright to run into a former classmate or two.

In the future, Wright hopes he can also start a mentorship program to help kids and teens learn about the career.

“I would’ve taken to the industry a lot sooner,” he said, if he had had earlier opportunities. “I spent so much time with dogs, I just had no idea it would lead to this.”

For more information about The Northwest Dog Trainer and its services, visit nwdogtrainers.com.