Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Cost of Training

The cost of owning a dog is about more than just the expense of food.The most major costs involved in raising a dog are training and the vet. Here are the typical costs of training your dog. Vet care costs will depend on your dog and if he/she has health problems or develops them. Though most dogs will only go to obedience school in their first year or two, training is something that should be ongoing throughout your dog's life. Whether you are buying books and DVDs for at-home training, or you enroll your dog in obedience classes, budget at least $25-300 per year for training needs.

You must also be aware that there are two different types of training that you and your dog might need.

Obedience Training refers to the teaching of verbal commands and hand signals to the dog. The dog learns that a certain sound means he has to respond in a certain way. Obedience commands include Heeling, sit stay, down stay, stand for exam, drop in motion, figure 8, recall, finish, move it in, back up, and so forth. Obedience training will make the dog respectful of the owner, but it won't cure behavioral problems or show the dog how to live in a human world.

Behavior Training is classified as "changing the daily unwanted behavior of the dog." These behaviors routinely occur in the home, or anywhere the dog is most comfortable, and stem from the lack of knowledge of how to communicate effectively with a dog. A behaviorist deals with the underlying behavioral issues that a dog is experiencing by first identifying the cause of these issues and then working through them on a primal level.

Typical costs:

  • Group classes at a local community center, dog daycare or pet store usually cost from $40 to $125 or more for four to eight weekly one-hour sessions. Puppy classes usually cost less than adult dog classes or classes specifically geared toward dogs with behavior issues.
  • Private classes with a trainer, which could be at the client's home or at the trainer's place of business, usually cost from $30 to $100 per hour-long session -- so about $240 to $600 for six sessions.
  • Dog obedience boarding schools usually cost from $950 to $2,500 or more for two to four weeks of board-and-train, where the dog lives at the trainer's home or at a boarding kennel and receives hours of one-on-one attention daily.

Additional costs:


  • A trainer might require the purchase of training aids, such as dog treats, a clicker -- a small noisemaker to get the dog's attention -- a long nylon lead and a short leash, usually for less than $50 total.
  • A dog with a serious behavior problem -- such as aggression -- could be evaluated by a veterinary behaviorist. Veterinary behaviorists usually charge $135 or more per hour, and a typical consultation runs about three hours for a total of $400 or more. This is generally just a consultation, you would need to spend more to actually fix the problems.

  • Behavior consultants will also do an evaluation for dogs with behavior problems as well as set up a behavior training schedule for you and your dog. Behavior Consultants can charge between $60 and $200 per hour depending on their reputation and whether or not they have the right to call themselves a Behaviorist due to their education. Most Behavior Consultants will give you lots of reading materials pertinent to your dogs' issues. Both Cesar Millan (National Geographic Channel "The Dog Whisperer") and Victoria Stillwell (Animal Planet "It's Me or The Dog") are Behavior Consultants with radically different approaches to behavior modification.

Considerations:

  • Obedience training can help with behavior problems but cannot resolve them. Before starting obedience training, whether or not in a group or home situation, make sure you are using the right tool to solve your problems. If all you want is your dog to obey you on the leash, sit, stay, come and heel, the go for obedience training. But if what you have is an out of control dog that won't even let you put a collar on him without taking half your arm off, then pass by the obedience trainer and find a behavior consultant. Don't let a trainer try and talk you into believing that obedience can fix behavior problems.
  • Never forget that you get what you pay for. If you are wanting to train your dog in Agility but you're only willing to pay a trainer $30 per hour, then expect to have a half trained dog.
  • Some boarding training programs offer a discount for a second dog from the same household.
  • Training can be done at home using a book or DVDs. Amazon.com has a selection of dog training books and DVDs starting under $10 as does DogWise.com.
  • Some shelters offer low-cost training, starting at about $35 and up for several weeks of classes. The cost is usually lower for a dog adopted from that shelter.
  • Some boarding training programs offer a discount for a second dog from the same household.
  • There are many young people just starting out in the business who will help you train your dog in obedience for very little money.