Besides the training fees for your pet, some other pet training-related expenses that you may incur include:
- Feeding fees: While pet trainers are responsible for the well-being of your pet during training, they are usually not responsible for certain things such as feeding your pet. Therefore, for the duration your pet will be trained, you must provide for its feeding and nutritional needs. Note that, depending on the training routine for your pet, its nutritional needs may be more than usual, particularly if the training routine requires a lot of energy, such as fetch drills. In situations like these, your pet's feeding costs may end up being more than you are used to.
- Medical-related costs: Your pet may have medical needs, such as veterinarian-directed administration of vitamins or specific drugs necessary for some types of training. For example, your pet may need multivitamins to effectively participate in energy-intensive drills. In such cases, you will need to furnish your pet trainer with the required medical supplies and prescriptions, and this constitutes an extra cost.
It is a good idea to ensure you know who is handling your pet's training, and whether the person is qualified. Pet trainers are usually self-employed or employees of a pet training business. Self-employed pet trainers typically train pets by themselves, and may sometimes be aided by an apprentice. On the other hand, pet training centers typically have several pet trainers in their employ. Therefore, you may have one or more pet trainers attending to your pet when you hire the services of a pet training center. Regardless of whether you hire a self-employed pet trainer or a pet training center, it is crucial to ensure that anyone handling your pet's training is qualified and competent. You can ask a self-employed pet trainer for proof of competence, such as past training experiences, certifications, or animal training association membership. For pet training centers, you can ask the center's services you hire to provide proof that the pet trainer handling your pet is also equally competent. Similar to self-employed pet trainers, ask for certifications, proof of animal training association membership, or any information that indicates to you that a pet trainer is competent and qualified.
It is estimated that 14,880 animal trainers are currently employed across the United States. To secure entry-level positions as an animal trainer, a person typically needs a minimum educational qualification of a high school diploma, as well as previous experiences with animals. Apprenticeships with a pet trainer or pet training center also qualify as having previous experience with animals. To improve their general expertise and knowledge, animal trainers also join credible animal training associations such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the Animal Behavior Society. These associations offer membership benefits that range from access to research publications to opportunities for continuing education, all of which help with improving a pet trainer's expertise. For specialized pet training expertise, pet trainers typically enroll in certified training programs organized by organizations like the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and obtain the relevant certifications. Constant practice, attending conferences, and networking are other avenues through which pet trainers also improve their expertise and pet training experience.
Before hiring the services of a pet trainer, it is a good idea to ask them to provide references from previous clients. These references typically provide information regarding the effectiveness of the pet trainer's training methods and professionalism and help evaluate the overall competence of the pet trainer. References can further help with other things such as drawing up a proper budget or informing you about a pet trainer's discount policies.
In addition to asking a pet trainer to provide references from previous clients, you can also visit review-dedicated websites such as Google Review, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp. Different people that have hired the services of different pet trainers typically give their reviews on these websites. Therefore, not only might you see helpful information on your intended pet trainer, but you can also look out for other pet trainers near you with high satisfactory reviews.
Furthermore, when searching for competent pet trainers near you, you can contact animal training associations for assistance and referrals. For example, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers has a referral page for prescreened professional dog trainers, and you can search for any available dog trainer within a 10 - 100 mile radius of where you reside. However, if you find a pet trainer through any animal training association, you should always remember to ask for references to ensure the trainer can competently train your pet.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Some tips to help you prepare for dog training include:
- Gather all necessary documents related to your dog. This includes the dog's license, vaccination records, and any other necessary medical records.
- Purchase the necessary dog accessories, such as collars, leashes, water bowls, treat bags, and treats.
- Take your dog on a light exercise before the training. You should also take your dog on a potty break before the training as well.
Sending your dog away for training with a professional has its advantages. These include freeing up time for you to attend to other matters and also providing your dog with access to specific kinds of training that you may not be equipped to offer at your home. Furthermore, sending your dog away for training allows it to socialize with other dogs in the training facility. However, this method of training also has its disadvantages which include:
- You may not develop a strong bond with your dog, particularly if you send the dog for training during its puppy stage. This can affect your relationship with your dog.
- You cannot monitor the appropriateness or kind of training given to your dog.
- Your dog may likely not view you as an authority figure, since you are not the one handling the bulk of the training sessions.
Considering these disadvantages, sending your dog away for training is generally not a good idea. It is usually better to hire a qualified pet trainer to provide private training sessions for your dog. This usually requires less time and can also be performed at your residence, thereby providing you with the opportunity to not only monitor the training but also spend more time with your dog and establish a better relationship. However, in instances where you have a tight schedule and are unable to spend time observing or being actively involved in your dog's training, then sending your dog away for training may be your best option.
Although training a dog can be complex, there are some basic dos and don'ts. Generally, some of the things you should not do when training a dog include:
- Do not repeat a cue when your dog does not respond the first time.
- Do not train your dog impatiently.
- Make sure that you are the only authority figure during training. For example, it is a good idea that no one trains your dog with you. At best, anyone that wants to assist you should do so subtly or teach you the cues, rather than teaching your dog directly. You need to establish direct command with your dog.
- Do not show bursts of anger, frustration, or give your dog a harsh punishment for not catching up with a training cue. You can occasionally punish your dog, but you should also balance punishments with rewards when deserving.
- Do not be inconsistent in what you reward and what you punish. Consistency is crucial as it helps to reinforce the idea of what constitutes good and bad behaviour to the dog.
Training your dog is not necessarily a time intensive endeavour. Depending on your general schedule, a 15 - 30 minute training session daily can be sufficient. The key is to remain consistent so you can keep track of the success or pitfalls of your training methods.
Although you can begin basic training once you bring your puppy home, it is advisable to give it some time to grow before starting agility training. Six weeks of age is generally a good time to start agility training for your dog. However, your dog's age, breed, and medical condition may influence the kind of agility training it can receive. For a better understanding of dog agility training and which training method is best for your dog, you should contact a qualified pet trainer.