How Much Does Dog Training Cost?

In the world of doggy manners, a well-trained dog rules. If you’re a new dog parent you’ll find that there’s a lot to learn. But how much does dog training cost?

From the cost of dog training to the best training methods, and everything in between, here’s what you need to know:

  • What influences the cost of dog training?
  • How much does Petco dog training cost?
  • At what age should you start dog training?
  • The best dog training tools and methods
  • What vaccinations does your dog need?
  • Do dog trainers need certifications?
  • Will a dog trainer work with aggressive dogs? 
  • Is paying for dog training worth it? 

What influences the cost of dog training?

There are four main factors that influence the cost of training your pup. They include:

Age

Training a puppy is often cheaper than training an adult dog. While older dogs absolutely can “learn new tricks,” if they’ve never been engaged in training activities before, the learning process can be a bit more challenging. On the other paw, puppies who have no prior habits are much easier to teach basic obedience skills.

Some dog schools charge the same rate to all their canine students regardless of age, but it’s not common.

Type of training 

Instruction starts with basic obedience training and becomes more advanced. Advanced training generally costs more because the skills your dog will learn are more sophisticated. This is especially true if a sport or activity requires specialized equipment.

Type of class

There are four types of dog training classes. You can choose from online, group, private lessons, and board and train courses. The latter two are generally more expensive, but the flip side is the trainer tailors each session to your dog as an individual.

Location

The cost of training can vary depending on where you live. Dog trainers in large cities are more likely to charge more than those from small towns or suburbs.

How much does dog training cost?

How much does dog training cost?

Private dog training

Private training sessions can cost you a pretty penny. Depending on the program or trainer you use these lessons can take place in your home or in the dog trainer’s facility. 

To get a sense of the cost of private dog training here are how prices vary between three schools in different areas.

MDLK9 Academy in Virginia charges $700 for four one-hour sessions in basic obedience, including some advanced skills. 

In Las Vegas, Confident Canine provides six similar one-hour classes for $690.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Spectrum Canine’s private training courses start at $600 for three sessions which rises to $1,500 for eight.

Local trainers in your area may charge less so ask around to see what’s available in your neighborhood.

Group dog training 

Group classes can work well for those looking to train their dog in basic obedience. Some group sessions will focus on handling common behavioral problems such as chewing.

Group training typically costs between $30 to $70 per session, working out at approximately $300 for a block booking of six sessions. 

Keep in mind when booking group sessions, you may want to avoid large classes. Large classes are often difficult for trainers to keep track of, and they may struggle to give adequate feedback on dog behavior. 

Check out any dog training clubs in your area as some offer reduced rates for their members.

Board and train

Board and train services are an excellent option for dog owners that don’t have much spare time. Dogs can stay at the facility during the day or board for several days or weeks.

The cost of board and train services depends on the length of time your dog stays. A two-week boarding program costs around $1,000, whereas day services are slightly cheaper.

Some boarding programs also offer training for you once your canine returns home and show you how to maintain training and keep things consistent. 

Online dog training 

Virtual training is a fantastic way to bond with your canine. You can complete the training in the comfort of your own home and in your own time. Some online dog training classes provide support from professionals, and others might supply you with the resources to power through it yourself.

SpiritedDog offers training videos for as little as $5, depending on the trick you want to teach your dog. They also offer a seven-day free taster course. 

Some virtual training courses require you to join Zoom classes and vary in price. For example, Sirius Dog Training charges $200 for five 50 minute zoom sessions spread across five weeks. Alternatively, the adult obedience course by All Day Dog Adventures costs $100 for six one-hour sessions.

If you decide to use free resources such as YouTube, online dog training can cost you nothing but time.

Both online group courses cover the same aspects of dog obediences and offer trainer support.

Both online group courses cover the same aspects of dog obediences and offer trainer support.

How much does dog training cost?

Service dog training

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is a dog trained to perform specific tasks for a person with disabilities. Training can include learning how to pull a wheelchair or alerting someone if their owner has a medical crisis.

The cost of service dog training depends on the number of skills you require your dog to learn and how advanced they are. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of any obedience training before moving on to service skills.

If your dog is familiar with advanced obedience skills, it may be capable of beginning disability skills training. The total cost of service dog training at Compass Key starts at $6,730 and includes basic and advanced obedience. 

Compass Key also offers a ‘public access’ course to help your service dog develop stronger ‘disability skills’ in public areas, where there are plenty of distractions. The ‘public access’ course is skill-dependent and starts at $1,360 for eight sessions. Board and train are also available, beginning with a two-week program costing $2,350.

Generally speaking, a board and train program that focuses on disability skills with a low/medium difficulty rating costs between $2,350 and $5,350. If you require your dog to learn more advanced skills, the price will increase.

There are also training courses that focus on helping people with a specific disability. Some dogs learn how to ease anxiety, and others may learn to deal with extreme circumstances such as seizures. There are also dogs trained to guide humans with limited vision and alert those with impaired hearing. 

Guide dogs

Guide dog training foundations breed and train puppies before placing them in the care of their new owners. Breeding, raising, training, and placing a guide dog costs around $50,000. However, there is usually no charge to the new owner other than the application fee to begin the placement process.

How much does dog training cost?

Hearing dogs

There are several organizations in the US that train and place hearing dogs. Training a hearing dog typically costs between $2,000 and $5,000. But, like guide dogs, hearing dogs don’t usually cost their new owner anything. Organizations often rely on donations and volunteers to cover the cost of training. 

Protection dogs 

There are different types of protection dog training. A level one will teach your dog how to protect your home and alert you if there’s an intruder. Level one training will cost around $1800

At level two, your dog will learn how to protect you as well as your property. The price of level two is dependent on the skills you want to include and can cost between $5700 and $7400. This course can teach your dog to apprehend attackers, release them, and stand guard. They may also learn to protect you when you’re traveling as well as at home. 

Level three training is specifically for dogs working in areas such as law enforcement. If you want to train your dog to level three, contact a training facility such as Dog Trainer College to discuss the details.

You can also purchase fully trained level one protection dogs for $12,500, and level two protection dogs for around $17,500. 

Search and rescue dogs 

Professional search and rescue (SAR) training can cost between $150 to $250 per hour. If you’re considering training your dog for SAR, there are many training options to choose from, which will affect the price. It’s a good idea to contact the facility to discuss your individual needs.

Highland Canine Training (HCT) states that they can offer affordable SAR training programs due to hard-working volunteer handlers. HCT offers several training options such as tracking and trailing, urban SAR, wilderness SAR, and human remains detection.

You might also consider applying for a dog that has already been through the training process. The cost of a fully trained SAR dog can be $25,000 plus. 

How much does dog training cost?

Therapy dogs

Occasionally called comfort dogs, therapy dogs are used to emotionally support a person’s mental health by providing company and reassurance.

It’s important to know that not all dogs make good therapy dogs. There are specific traits that your dog must possess, including an obedient, calm, and friendly temperament. Therapy dogs must also be at least one year old. 

Many therapy dog trainers and organizations require dogs to pass specific tests, and their prices can vary accordingly.

The Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) is a non-profit organization that doesn’t charge fees for testing and evaluation. Testers will monitor you and your dog and pay you several visits before potentially recommending you and your canine for ATD certification. 

Registering with ATD costs $60 for the first year, then $30 per year after that.

A certified therapy dog will gain access to settings such as hospitals, schools, and assisted living accommodations. 

However, therapy dogs are different from service dogs, and not all establishments allow them access. Places such as hotels and other businesses often consider therapy dogs as pets, not service animals.

If you don’t want to go the professional route you can also train your dog to become a therapy dog from your own home.

Specialized dog training: competitive sports

Specialized training, particularly those built around the most popular competitive dog sports include:

Agility 

If you’ve ever been awed by speedy pups zooming over hurdles and rocketing through complicated obstacle courses, consider signing your pup up for agility training. Energetic and highly social dogs of all sizes and breeds can get in on the fun in this exhilarating sport. 

Agility training prices run within the range of basic obedience training. You can expect to pay between $125 to $200 for an hourly six-week group course, around $175 to $200 for a more advanced ten-week course, and between $30 to $100 an hour for one-on-one private training.

Scent work

Our canine companions’ sense of smell can be up to 100,000 times more powerful than anything our human noses are capable of. Scent work is built around engaging your pooch’s always-active sniffer. This game-like sport revolves around your dog detecting a hidden target through odor alone. Scent work training tends to be most rewarding for dog breeds in the hunting and hound categories. 

Also known as K9 Nose Work, scent training generally costs between $150 to $200 for an hour and a half six-week group course. Because scent training is best done in very small class sizes, this type of training can cost significantly more than others.  

Rally 

The human-canine bond is at the heart of rally training. This activity combines agility training with obedience training. Here’s how it works. Rally courses are created with the intention of bringing you and your dog together. Unlike dog-only agility courses, rally courses require you and your pooch to continually communicate as you work your way through various exercises and obstacles. 

Rally training typically starts at $125 for hourly six-week group lessons for beginners, with $190 for more advanced hourly six-week group lessons.

How much does Petco training cost?

Pet stores like Petco offer a wide range of training classes for both puppies and adult dogs. The company also has private training classes available, which they’ll tailor specifically to your dog’s needs.

A six-week level one puppy training program at Petco costs $149. If you want to move onto level two, you’ll have to pay an additional $149. 

The 18-week complete puppy program costs $379. It includes levels one, two, the AKC S.T.A.R test, and a 45-minute private lesson. It also gives you the option to choose an adult class for your puppy to complete as they move on. 

Adult obedience classes range from $149 to $379. 

Private lessons at Petco are at the more affordable end of the scale, and they charge $39 for a 45-minute class. You can book a set of four sessions for $219 or six for $299. 

Petco’s certified trainers customize private lessons for each canine and you can choose to address specific unwanted behaviors, how to help your dog learn basic cues, and discuss house training concerns.

How much does PetSmart training cost?

PetSmart is another large pet store chain that provides a range of training options.

PetSmart’s six-week puppy course is $124. More advanced and specialized classes range from $79 for dogs with anxiety to $139 for therapy dog training and brain games. 

Like Petco, PetSmart offers private sessions across the US, ranging from $45 for 30 minutes to $219 for four hours. Online classes are also available at $35 per session or $126 for a block of four.

How much does dog training cost?

At what age should you start training your dog?

A young puppy can begin learning basic commands as young as eight weeks old. However, if you plan on taking your puppy to a group training session, they’ll require their first set of vaccinations before attending.

For high-impact activities, such as agility, disc dog, or protection work, require you to wait until your dog is physically mature at around a year of age. Hard running and jumping can cause permanent damage to a growing pup’s bones.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t train an adult dog. Dogs can begin training at any age, so ignore the saying because you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Dog training tools and methods

There are several methods that trainers use to train dogs:

  • Clicker training
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Electronic training
  • Dominance training
  • Mirror training

Most professional dog trainers will use clicker training. Clicker training requires the use of a quick, sharp sound to signal good behavior. Professionals often combine the clicker with positive reinforcement training, which involves a treat or praise after each correct response.

The mirror training method suggests that if you model behavior, your dog will copy.

Dominance training is generally outdated and relies heavily on the pack instinct of social hierarchy. The theory is if your dog sees you as the “alpha”, then they will submit to your commands.

Electronic training relies on punishment rather than reward. You should only use this method as a last resort.

When looking for a trainer, check which methods they use. You may not be comfortable with all of them, so it’s best to know what you’re in for before enrolling in a course. It’s generally safe to say that positive reinforcement or clicker training is the best way to go. 

How much does dog training cost?

What vaccinations does your dog need? 

There are two categories of vaccinations; core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended by veterinarians for all dogs regardless of location. However, by law, most states only require you to vaccinate your canine against rabies. 

The non-core vaccinations your dog requires depend on where you live and the risk factors specific to your canine. Your vet can help you create a vaccination schedule for your pet.

Core vaccines: 

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

Non-core vaccines: 

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Leptospira bacteria
  • Canine influenza
  • Coronavirus
  • Giardia
  • Rattlesnake vaccine

Although Bordetella bronchiseptica is a non-core vaccine, many pet trainers ask for proof of this vaccination before allowing your canine to enroll. Some boarding facilities also ask for evidence that your dog has had the canine influenza vaccine. This is because both of these diseases spread quickly. Check which vaccines your pup needs with the training provider before enrolling.

Take a look at this video, which outlines a puppy vaccine schedule.

 

How much does dog training cost?

Do dog trainers need certification?

Dog trainers don’t require any official certification. However, there are many organizations that aspiring trainers can join. Several certifying bodies conduct examinations and require visual evidence and coursework. There are also accredited degrees offered by some universities. 

Some organizations and programs offer certifications that give trainers the option to add letters to the end of their name. Unfortunately, many of these allow anyone to join, which makes many certifications meaningless.

All in all, the letters after someone’s name aren’t what makes them a good trainer. Ask for references and look at their previous work to get a better idea of the quality of training.

If you want more information about what the letters after a dog trainer’s name mean, check out this post

Will a dog trainer work with aggressive dogs?

Absolutely! Many professional dog trainers will work with aggressive dogs on a one-to-one basis. A dog trainer (and for more extreme cases an animal behaviorist) can help you understand why your canine behaves aggressively and give you tips and insight into what you can do to help. 

How much does dog training cost?

Is paying for dog training worth it?

Hiring a professional dog trainer or enrolling your pup in group classes is one of the best investments you can make in your dog’s life. It’s one of the best ways to ensure the new behaviors you want to teach your dog really “stick” and that your dog stays physically and mentally stimulated, which can reduce aggression, anxiety, and other issues.  

Having the support of a professional trainer can help inspire confidence in both you and your dog. By building and strengthening your bonds, and keeping your dog active and engaged in professional training keeps your dog on track to live its happiest, healthiest, best life.

Key takeaways on dog training cost

Training is an essential part of your dog’s life. Whether you decide to train them yourself, hire a professional to work one-on-one with them, or enroll them in group lessons, every dog can benefit from the obedience skills, socialization, and mental stimulation that comes from learning. 

Keep in mind that the cost of training varies, and it isn’t always a good indication of the trainer’s skills. Always look at references and reviews to decide whether the trainer is right for you and your dog. And remember, above all to be patient with your dog, choose your words and actions with care, and to have fun! 

Kate Basedow, LVT
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