Monday, July 29, 2013

How much does it cost to get the help of a professional dog trainer?

The most often asked question I get lately is : "How much does it cost to train my dog?". This is a bit of a tricky question. It is sort of like asking a mechanic, "How much to fix my car? " when he has no information about what sort of trouble you are having with your vehicle.

There are different approaches to dog training and different methods. Which one is right for your situation is largely dependent on your ultimate training goals and the temperament and sometimes history of your dog. The cost also depends upon your expectations regarding the Trainer and the level of personal attention you will receive.

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Polite Dogs and Happy People, I provide in-home training services. I actually come out to your home and work with you and your dog. This has at least four advantages:

1. I can observe the dog in the environment in which he/she lives.
2. I can work with you to tailor a training plan to the unique needs of you and your dog.
3. You get my full attention, as opposed to group class settings where the Trainer is working with multiple dogs and people.
4. I can work with your schedule (i.e. lessons schedules are very flexible, we can meet at different times each week if needed.)

If you live within 20 miles of my home location in North Fayette County Georgia, the following is my general pricing schedule:

  • $75.00 per session
  • $405 for six session package (payable in advance)
If I have to travel outside the 20 mile perimeter that I mentioned there are additional expenses:

  • $0.80 for each mile over 20 miles and under 100 miles (round trip)
  • Over 100 miles contact me for a travel expense quote.

I provide a 10% discount for adopted/rescued dogs.

Okay now you know what I generally charge. 

Before you get "sticker shock" and run away screaming consider this:

Yes, I realize that you can go to your local big pet store and get six lessons for about $109.00. I used to teach these lessons at Petco in Peachtree City, Georgia. They are not bad and I will not hate you if you patronize these places. but you need to make an informed decision. 

Here are some things to remember about the big pet stores and their training:

  • They will not allow dogs with aggression (dog/dog or dog/people) in the classes.
  • They will not allow anxious dogs in the classes.
  • The trainers are encouraged and in some cases forced to teach only large group classes
  • These classes are intended to be a sales tool for the store. They are used to market and sell dog related products. This is not necessarily bad but, it is the reality. Petco did this when I was there and I interviewed with Petsmart and it was very apparent that they do this too.
  • The experience and skill of the trainer varies very widely from store to store. If you choose to do this type of training I very strongly suggest that you observe a class before you spend the money.
  • There is a structured lesson plan (curriculum) while this is not an inherently bad thing. It does not lend itself readily to individualized attention. When I worked at Petco, I had to teach certain things in each class. I did have some latitude to deal with individual students situations however, I did have to teach what was in the curriculum whether or not it made sense for an individual dog.
I will never use my sessions in an attempt to sell you a product. My lively-hood comes from helping you to train your dog to become a polite little girl or guy. It does not come from how much dog food ,no-pull harnesses, leashes, treats, crates, etc. that  I sell.

I will not turn your dog away simply because of aggression or anxiety . In fact separation anxiety is something with which I deal frequently! We will develop a plan together to deal with it properly.

I do not have a set curriculum. You and your dog a unique. Your dog training should be tailored to your needs. No cookie cutter training here.

But, I can not even come close to matching the price of these big box pet stores. No independent professional trainer doing individual lessons can match them. They are making almost no profit on Dog Training directly.  They expect to make their real profit on your product business. They actually told me in the Petco internal Dog Trainer Training that you, as my Dog Training student are "captive" for at least six hours in the store and suggested all sorts of ways for me to sell you products. Good or bad, this is the truth of the matter. They are not making much money on the classes, the real money is in what you buy when you are in the store for the six lessons!

And yes, I realize that they have an option for "individual lessons" for about $60.00 each. These are still aimed at selling product. And the restriction on aggression/anxiety remains. These individual lessons are still in the store.

My motivation is helping you to train your dog to be a polite, well behaved little girl or guy. It is not about selling you product!

There are also other organizations that provide in-home training. I caution you to be careful particularly with the franchise outfits like Barkbusters. These are not bad people but, they have their own "cookie cutter" like technique. The quality of the trainers also varies widely from one franchisee to another.

I find the following from the Bark Busters web page franchise section particularly alarming:

" I don’t know much about dog training. Can I still be a Bark Buster?
Yes. Bark Busters provides a comprehensive training at the launch of your business. This training program takes place 
at the National Training Academy outside of Denver, Colorado and provides a great deal of hands-on work with dogs, as well as providing practical knowledge about how to successfully operate a dog training business.
How do I become a trained Bark Buster?
All Bark Busters go through a comprehensive training program located at the National Training Academy outside of Denver, Colorado. After completing the training program, you will be fully prepared to launch your business immediately. We will also work to publicize your business and drive customers to you from your very first day of operations. "

It appears that you do not need to have even ever owned or cared for a dog in your life. If you have the almost $70,000 franchise start up fees and complete their training you are a "Bark Buster". I am really not bashing them, I just don't care for the business model. I am unsure how they would handle a dog that does not fit the cookie-cutter.

And, by the way, Bark Busters will cost you, in the end, significantly more than my services would. 

I know this post seems like thinly veiled advertising of my services and to a large extent that is true. However, cost is a frequent question that I get. I really hope this post clears things up for you on cost.

If you have questions/concerns, please contact me at anytime.

Till next time

-William -

Wiliam Moore
William Moore Canine Training

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