Dog training: DIY, group or private lessons?

When we adopted our dog Spotty I watched every episode of The Dog Whisperer and It’s Me or the Dog I could find. I studied books on puppy training and the psychology of positive reinforcement.

We also asked my brother-in-law for training tips. Every dog he’s owned has been attentive, well behaved and just loveable! The best tip he shared was to let our puppy be outside, exposed to the neighborhood kids running around our yard, rather than keep him indoors until he was trained. It turns out, the chaos kids offer further socializes puppies and helps when it comes time to train them to sit and stay.

In just a weekend, Spotty learned to stay by our side regardless of any distraction. Today, we whistle and Spotty will stop, even in mid-chase of his arch nemesis, the squirrel.

The lesson here is that there’s value to having someone knowledgeable help you with dog training.

The costs of getting professional help to train your puppy or dog can range from $40 to $125+ for group classes, or from $30 to $100 for private hour-long sessions.

Not sure which would work best for you?

In general, group classes are for basic manners and commands like sit, down, come and stay. It’s also helpful with socialization. Training classes can run for six to 10 weeks, meeting once or twice a week.

You will likely spend less on puppy classes than adult training classes. Group classes are generally split into puppy classes, basic obedience and advanced obedience. Before heading to big brand pet stores, check if less expensive training classes are offered by your local animal shelter or community center.

To deal with housetraining issues or behavioral issues unique to your fur-buddy, like excessive barking or chewing up your shoes, opt for private one-on-one sessions.

Like anything, it pays to do your research. These questions from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers may help in finding the right trainer for you and your pup.

  1. What’s your training philosophy/method? Experience?

Why this is important: Some dogs respond to different methods, which might not work if your trainer takes a one-size-fits-all approach.

  1. Can I observe a class? Do you have any references?

Why this is important: The best classes are the ones where the dogs and owners are having fun, yet the environment is calm and relaxed. It helps to review Yelp and other online review sites first.

Myriam DiGiovanni

Myriam DiGiovanni

After writing for Credit Union Times and The Financial Brand, Myriam DiGiovanni covers financial literacy for FinancialFeed. She is also a storytelling expert and works with credit unions to help ... Web: Details