Ballpark Estimate: $15 to 25 per hour for group lessons; $50 to $100 per hour for private lessons
Some people try to train their dogs themselves and are successful, but if you’re short on patience, have a rambunctious dog, or a dog who would benefit from the socialization of a group, it’s usually easiest to turn to the dog training experts for help.
When to Start
Most dog training experts say that the most effective time to train a dog is when it’s still quite young. This is because puppies can usually learn quickly and easily, although their attention span is usually short. Older dogs can also learn well, but the training process could take a little longer since they often already have bad habits in place that they will have to overcome.
A Range of Options
There are different levels of dog training classes depending upon where your dog is in the process. Most dogs start the training at the beginning with the basics. For some, this introductory dog training class will be enough, while other owners prefer to continue letting their dogs work their way up to more advanced levels of trainings.
Here is an overview of the dog training process, so you’ll know what to expect along the way.
Basic Dog Training
These are general dog training classes that are usually geared toward puppies but can also accommodate older dogs who have never had formal training or simply need a refresher course. The types of commands that are usually covered in this beginner level include training simple things such as: “Sit.” “Stay.” “Come.” Such basic dog training also provides an important way to introduce your pet to other dogs and their owners and can teach him how to socialize successfully at the same time.
Intermediate Dog Training
Some pets who graduate from a basic dog training class will continue on with intermediate level dog training. The types of things you can expect to get at this stage of training include more intricate concepts, such as teaching your dog how to walk on a leash without pulling, how to fetch a ball, and how to heel at your command.
Advanced Dog Training
Advanced training is for very obedient dogs that seem ready to take things to the next level. They will learn more sophisticated techniques like hand gestures and how to walk beside you without a leash and not run away.
The easiest dogs to train are usually those that have a mild temperament, exhibit signs of natural curiosity and are very responsive to people and direction. Dogs who are neutered also usually do well in a group dog training class. On the other hand, dogs who fit any extreme (such as being very dominant or very submissive) may need more special attention or even some individualized dog training sessions before they’ll be ready to participate in a group setting.
When you sign up for dog training, you’ll need to have your pet’s vaccination records to prove that everything is up-to-date. It can also be helpful to have some specific goals for the dog training class that you can share with the dog trainer. Your dog will need to wear a collar and leash so you can lead him around appropriately. You’ll also want to dress yourself in comfortable clothing with sneakers or walking shoes that will allow you to keep up with your active dog, as the dog trainer puts both of you through the paces.
What to Expect
Dog training classes can range in size from a few participants up to about a dozen, depending on where you go. If you’re worried that a larger dog training class could be too chaotic for your pet to get the full benefits of training, before you look into private or semi-private dog training classes, keep in mind that the distractions you get in a big dog training class can be an important part of the lesson. Dogs need to be able to block out the background to focus on your commands and obey them. If your dog can only accomplish this with you alone in a very private setting, you’ll beat a great disadvantage when you try this out in a public chaotic place.
Keep It Realistic
Most dogs take a while to get the hang of listening and obeying. It’s important to have realistic expectations and realize it can take a few dog training classes for yours to begin to follow directions. Some dogs may even need to repeat basic training more than once to get the skills to meet your expectations.
While most dogs do fine in a group setting and get a lot out of them, there are some better suited for private dog training, at least to get them started. If you have a very aggressive or dominant dog, one who doesn’t listen well, or one who is too distracted by a group to make any progress within the larger setting, private dog training lessons may be the best approach. Some dog trainers will hold personalized classes at their location, while others may be willing to come to your own home to work with you and your dog. The latter option can be particularly helpful if you’re working on breaking your dog of a bad habit, such as chewing up your furniture or having accidents in your home. By working with your dog one-on-one on such problem traits, the dog trainer may be able to teach you and your dog how to establish healthier patterns and also show you how to reinforce these dog training lessons throughout the course of your day.
Most dog training sessions are based on positive reinforcement. The way this works is that you give your dog a command and then reward him with a treat when he performs it. But exactly how the dog training classes are run and how the lessons are communicated to the dog will depend upon who is doing the dog training and what style he uses to work with animals. Since techniques are very individualized, if you find that your dog isn’t responding well to your dog trainer, you may want to try someone else and see if that makes a difference. Remember that most dogs want to please their owners, so if yours isn’t responding the way you think he should, he may not be understanding the directions and may need to have them presented in a different way.
How to Find
There are likely to be a number of dog training schools available in your area. One of the common options is to take your dog to classes at a local pet shop or to sign up for dog training sessions at one of the chain pet supply stores, such asPetco and Petsmart . You can also ask your veterinarian or groomer for recommendations. Looking in your yellow pages or searching online to see the range of dog training businesses that exist for your area can give you an idea of what is close at hand. In addition, you can get more information about the importance of dog training through a variety of websites and other online resources. These include the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the American Kennel Club, and Dog Trainer Search. Some of these also offer searchable directories that make it easy to locate local dog trainers.
What to Look For
There’s no certificate required for dog trainers to start a business, so it can be quite confusing when you sit down to find the right person to train your dog. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by the decision, though. Look for a dog trainer who has a good understanding of animals and can build a positive rapport with both you and your dog.
Cost for Dog Training
The price for dog training depends on the type and age of your dog and exactly what you need. Most group dog training classes last for an hour each and the sessions usually run for about 6 weeks. A basic dog training class should be the least expensive option, since this is the less intensive. It costs between $100 and $150 (or around $15 to $25 per hour) for a 6-week dog training session. If you take a more intensive training class to help a puppy or adult dog work on specific behaviors or habits you aren’t happy with, the price may be as high as $200 to $250 (between about $30 and $45) for a 6 week session. If you prefer to have one-on-one time with the dog trainer, it can cost between $300 and $700 (or between $50 to $120) for a 6-week class. You can expect the price to be on the lower end if you go the dog trainer’s facility rather than the more expensive option of the dog trainer coming to your home.
Some dog trainers will require a pre-paid class commitment, but some of them might be willing to work with you on a pay-as-you-go basis. If you are able to arrange that, you can also expect the price to be on the higher end of the scale.
Practice Makes Perfect
You can help your dog get the most out of class by practicing the dog training skills at home. To encourage this, many dog trainers will provide handouts detailing the lessons from your class so you will know exactly what to work on and how to do it effectively at home. Keep in mind that most dogs have short attention spans, so for the best results, it’s a good idea to do short refreshers at home and repeat them regularly.