Dog training can be really expensive. Especially if you need some 1:1 support.
Prices can be as $200 for an hour (depending on the trainer) — but is that acceptable?
For clarity — I am a dog trainer! My speciality is puppies! I can definitely tell you what we charge and why we charge it and give an insight into how our costs are formed.
Let explain a few things about the reason we charge what we charge.
Behind The Cost
We have to consider the fact that dog trainers are self-employed. Like most entrepreneurs, self-employed, and similar — we don’t get a lot of the benefits that come with a salary, something that has to then be compensated for in what a trainer charges.
Basic costs that must be factored in are things such as:
- Travel time
- Holiday time
- Medical expenses
- Unsociable hours
- Social media etc.
Then there are the slightly more complex things that are a little more unique to dog trainers, and some more specifically applicable to the top tier of trainers.
- Research, sometimes we get presented with complicated cases. We have to have a good grip on up to date and recent studies in order to keep providing accurate information.
- Reports, a great trainer will give you a written report summarising what you should do, why you should do it, and the best ways to do it. These things take time because they’re entirely bespoke to the dog, the situation and the family!
- Consideration & consultation of peers, when our own research fails? We need a network of professionals to soundcheck us sometimes. To bounce ideas off of, which again means that you’re promised to get the very best support.
- Veterinary involvement, pain is often a cause for the problem behaviour, which means we often have to discuss with vets about the testing we might need or want and how best to do that for the dog (because some don’t like the vets!), this means more time and consequently, cost.
- Commitment to Continued Professional Development, like the mentions of research above, it’s also really important that we continue learning. This often means that we have courses to attend which not only cost money, but they also cost time.
- Continued support and advice, a part of my premium services has always been that you get direct access to be for questions, or curiosities or similar for the entire duration of our training.
- Blogging and/or YouTube guides, these take time! They’re free to view, to watch and otherwise, but they are a way of communicating with potential clients — one which must be paid for in some way…
These sort of things might seem simple, but we cannot be everything to everyone and to do that for free…
Now, there’s a slightly more sad reason we charge in the manner we do.
Clients Value Of Dog Trainers Time
Dog training is a calling. It’s not really something you take-up because you want to be rich!
Typically, we care way too much. It’s why trainers often have an emotional burn out. We commit to training, and we expect the same of our clients.
From experience? The less we charge the less we are valued, and the less people are willing to do the work that we set to help improve the situation. This then means that we get emotionally attached to the dog, and we desperately want them to succeed — but we are limited.
Okay, so you now understand a lot of the reasons we charge what we charge… but here’s the doozy.
Is It Ethical For Dog Trainers To Charge What They Charge?
This one has been irritating me. Because, The ASPCA says that 98% of the dogs surrendered to them have had no training. They also say that 48% of the dogs they get are between the age of 5 months and 3 years (which dog trainers will tell you are the toughest years, and tougher still if the pup has no training!).
I then ran a poll and did you know that 86% of people think that dog training is not affordable?
So this poses two arguments…
1 — dog trainers have an ethical responsibility to decrease their prices.
2 — people who cannot afford to train their dog should not have a dog.
The second — whilst practically true — is a hard one for me to stomach, because finances (as we all know after this glorious pandemic of ours!) is incredibly circumstantial and Muphy’s Law dictates these things never happen when it’s convenient.
So, can we truly hold the second reason as okay?
I don’t feel like I can. Because the data implies that if there are more financially accessible ways of training, then we may successfully keep more dogs and puppies out of shelters.
Isn’t that the goal? I think so. That’s the reason I do what I do.
As always, these usually come in ‘generic’ solutions.
My expertise is there, but I do share information regularly, for free, but it will never be specific to your situation. That level of tailoring can only be provided in 1:1 sessions — but it can be applied with the right knowledge and understanding.
Low or No Cost solutions to consider:
If you need cheaper solutions, if you need something more accessible to keep your puppy or dog developing? You will have to do a little more work, but it is doable. Here are some great sources for you to consider.