5 Ways to Save Money on Dog Training

Whether you're aiming for agility excellence or just pull-free walks, training is a must. (Photo courtesy Heather Marcoux)
Whether you're aiming for agility excellence or just pull-free walks, training is a must. (Photo courtesy Heather Marcoux)

Whether you’ve got a rowdy puppy or a older pooch with some undesirable behaviors, chances are you’ve thought about getting help for your dog. In a perfect world, every pet parent would be able to book private, in-home sessions with a professional trainer, but that can be prohibitively expensive. If the hourly rate for dog trainers is beyond your means, don’t worry. There are ways to get professional help on any budget. Let’s take a look at five ways to reduce your training costs.

1. Semi-private lessons

If a trainer’s one-on-one fee is out of reach, see if they offer semi-private sessions at a lower rate. You can reduce the cost of training by teaming up with a friend, neighbor, or fellow training client who has similar goals. Going semi-private can easily knock a couple hundred bucks off a trainer’s private fees. This option sees you and your dog learning alongside at least one other human-dog team, but the intimate setting still gives you plenty of attention from the trainer. These kinds of lessons are also a great option for dogs — and people — who would feel anxious in a large group setting and aren’t quite ready to enter a noisy classroom.

Man training dog with treats by Shutterstock.

2. Classes

If you and your dog don’t mind learning alongside a many other other pup pupils, classes are an economical way to engage with a trainer. Most dog trainers charge considerably less for classes than they do for private or even semi-private lessons, and that’s just one of the benefits of this style of training.

Learning in a bigger group setting is a great way to socialize, for both the dogs and the humans. You both get to make new friends while strengthening your own friendship, and may even develop a healthy competition with your classmates. You don’t have the trainer’s undivided attention for the entire class time, but many trainers will make the rounds during a lesson to give each team some one-on-one instruction. Learning in a group also provides the opportunity to check out what your classmates are doing and learn from their successes.

A classroom setting helps dogs learn to block out distractions. (Photo courtesy Heather Marcoux)

3. Subsidized training

If the pooch you’re trying to train is a rescue, you may qualify for discounts that make training courses even more affordable. Some larger humane societies offer on-site classes at a reduced rate for alumni, and smaller rescues often have relationships with local trainers. Ask if your dog qualifies for a rescue discount and save that extra cash for training treats.

4. Seminars and workshops

If a six-week course doesn’t fit your budget or your schedule, a one-time seminar or workshop can be a good way to get expert advice on dog training in the space of an afternoon or weekend day. Workshops and seminars are often priced quite affordably, usually in the double digits. Depending on the trainer and the topics covered, some seminars and workshops see dogs and humans attend, while others are people-only events.

Trainers offer these one-time lessons on everything from basic obedience to leash work and reliable recall. Attending a training seminar or workshop is often the most affordable way to get face-to-face time with a trainer, and can be a great way to see if you click with an instructor before signing up for other services.

Whether you’re aiming for agility excellence or just pull-free walks, training is a must. (Photo courtesy Heather Marcoux)

5. Free YouTube lessons

Even if you don’t have any cash available at the moment, you don’t have to put training your dog on hold. When you can’t see a trainer in person, pull one up on YouTube. There are many great videos by force-free trainers available online, covering everything from basic leash manners, to hind-end awareness or how to get your dog to ring the doorbell.

Of course, with YouTube being Youtube, there are just as many bad examples of dog training on there as there are good ones, so you still have to do your homework. Before choosing a video trainer, visit their website to see if their training methods align with your own pet care philosophies. If you don’t know where to start, check out the popular channels by well-known dog professionals Victoria Stilwell or Zak George. Also check if any local trainers have uploaded videos — if you find their work helpful, you and your dog can start saving up for in-person classes.

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