As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our dogs are well socialized and complete basic obedience training.
You certainly can try to train your dog yourself — we have a lot of resources that’ll help you do exactly that!
However, many owners eventually find that they need some professional help. And when budgeting for expenses it’s good to know — on average — how much a dog trainer costs.
We’ll help by explaining how much dog trainers cost and diving in to some of the factors that’ll determine how much you’ll end up paying for a trainer.
- Typically, dog trainers cost anywhere from $40 to $250 per session. A lot of pricing depends on whether you’re looking at private training or a group class.
- While this represents the basic range you can expect to pay, training costs fluctuate significantly. Some of the factors influencing the cost include your dog’s specific needs, the trainer’s skill set, and your location.
- Pets dealing with complex issues related to aggression, anxiety, or fear may need a certified dog behaviorist, not a dog trainer. Because they’re better trained and deal with more complicated problems, behaviorists are more expensive than typical trainers.
Do You Need a Dog Trainer or a Canine Behavior Consultant?
Of course, before you start shopping around for a trainer and comparing prices, you need to ensure that you’re actually in need of a dog trainer, rather than a dog behaviorist – something many dog owners fail to consider.
There’s definitely some overlap between the two types of canine professional, but generally speaking:
- Dog trainers are useful for helping you teach your dog basic manners, obedience, trick work, and perform simple tasks. Want your pooch to learn how to sit, offer a paw, and stay in place? You want a certified dog trainer.
- Canine behaviorists have typically received more education, including instruction about the best ways to deal with complex issues, such as anxiety, reactivity, or aggression. Need your reactive dog to stop lunging at other dogs during walks? You want a certified dog behaviorist.
Most owners will find that a certified trainer or behaviorist will help to achieve their goals, but in some cases, such as dogs suffering from particularly difficult behavioral issues, you may need to find the top-of-the-line canine consultant: a veterinary behaviorists.
These veterinary professionals not only have tons of training, education, and experience relating to behavior, but they also understand the way your dog’s biology factors into the equation.
The cost of dog training will vary greatly depending on the length of the course, your location, and what type of dog training you’re seeking out for your furball.
Here are a couple of different types of training plans and approaches, and what sort of price ranges you can plan for:
Private Dog Training
Private dog training is a great pick for dogs who are working through typical at-home issues or don’t perform well in group settings. This type of one-on-one attention will range anywhere from $60 to $150 per session. You may even find higher pricing for more specialized, area-specific training.
Group Dog Training
Group training classes typically aim to provide well-socialized dogs with basic obedience skills like leash manners, potty training, and basic commands. These can range from $30 to $80 per class, or $200 to $300 for a multi-lesson course. Some group classes are specifically designed for puppies, with those classes focusing largely on socialization and basic foundational skills.
Group dog training is the most common type of dog training offering. Some pet stores even offer group training, such as with PetSmart’s dog training classes.
This type of dog training involves sending off your pooch to a boarding facility or doggie daycare center for several consecutive days to focus on learning new skills in an immersive environment. These types of courses range from about $900 to $3000 per week.
Many owners find the idea of board-and-train programs (also known as “dog boot camp” programs) appealing, as it’s convenient to have a place to house and train your dog while you go away on vacation.
But be aware that board and train programs are quite controversial and are often ripe for abuse. Most board-and-train programs use very harsh, aggressive tactics in order to achieve unrealistic results in a short amount of time. Make sure to read our full guide about board-and-train programs before you consider signing your dog up for one!
Specialized Dog Training
Training for pups who are poised to become service dogs or working pooches requires specialized, often-intensive training in a private setting. And this means you’re going to pay a pretty penny for it. These services are usually priced around $150 an hour and up, depending on your area and the type of training needed.
While the above should give you an average range on what to expect from the cost of dog trainers, it’s hard to pin down an exact price since the cost of the trainer can vary greatly based on the following factors:
- Credentials: A certified dog trainer or certified dog behaviorist will have gone through much more training than an everyday uncredentialed dog trainer and have a deeper understanding of the species as a whole. They may even have a specialized degree in animal psychology or canine cognition. Trainers will vary in cost based on the certifications they’ve received, the training programs they’ve been a part of, and the amount of time and effort they’ve had to put into their craft.
- Experience: Trainers who have more experience in the business will accordingly charge more. You might also pay a premium for specializations in your dog’s area of need.
- Private vs. Group Settings: Private one-on-one training will cost more than group training classes since your pooch will receive more individualized care.
- Location: A class is NYC is going to cost more than one in a small town due to the higher cost of living in major cities.
- Titles: Titles refer to the placement or awards a handler has received in a dog sport or other type of canine competition. If you’re looking for a trainer who specializes in a specific dog sport, you’ll likely want a trainer who has titled — and you’ll likely pay more for that too!
- Training Goals: More specialized training like reactivity dog training work or aggressive dog training is going to cost more than basic obedience training.
- Cultural Factors: Training rates may fluctuate based on the context of the outside world and the demand for training services. For instance, training rates went up during the pandemic since many people welcomed new pets to their families, resulting in an increased demand for dog trainers.
- Session Frequency: Many trainers offer discounts to pet parents who invest in regular or multiple sessions as a part of a package. Some trainers may also offer discounts for those who have adopted from local shelters.
It’s important to put some time into finding a great dog trainer so that your pooch has the best chance of picking up helpful hound habits.
Remember, there are no requirements needed to list yourself as a professional dog trainer in the United States, which means it’s really easy to get bad advice from self-titled experts who talk big without much real understanding of dogs.
To ensure you’re getting a true expert, seek out these green flags in any prospective trainer:
- Look for professional certifications. Dog trainers found through databases like IAABC (the most rigorous), CCPDT, or the KPA directory have gone through hours of training committed to ethical-based dog training. Many of these programs also require hundreds of hours of documented experience, so you won’t end up with a newbie.
- Dedication to science-based training methods. Your trainer of choice should rely exclusively on science-based training that avoids the use of aversive tools like prong collars, e-collars, or pinch collars for training.
- Ethics and training theory that you support. If a trainer insists on using tools, strategies, or methodologies that don’t sit right with you, simply look elsewhere. There are tons of dog trainers out there whose mannerisms and approach to training vary. You need to find a trainer you connect with and feel confident with, and it won’t always be a one-size-fits-all.
- Strong communication skills. At its core, dog training is not actually about training dogs. It’s about training humans! In order to achieve any kind of training goal, you are the one who will need to work with your dog day in and day out. A trainer simply guides you and shows you how to properly communicate and connect with your dog. This is why good communication skills are essential for any worthwhile dog trainer. Seek out a trainer who can explain concepts to you in a way that makes sense and that you understand.
- Your trainer should be specialized in your dog’s area of need. Seek out trainers that have experience with your dog’s training focuses. And remember: If your pooch is dealing with intense anxiety, aggression, or fear, you’re going to need to seek out an accredited behaviorist, not a dog trainer.
Dog trainers can certainly be a worthwhile investment for any new pet parent or dog who is struggling to learn his mutt manners.
Regardless of whether you utilize the help of a dog trainer, you should still be engaging in regular training at home with your pooch to help these new skills stick.
Hiring a dog trainer to come once a week will do absolutely nothing to help your dog if you don’t do your homework and practice the skills that a trainer has demonstrated to you.
You can certainly train your dog yourself if you’re so inclined! We have our own massive collection of great, free dog training videos online you can check out, so there’s nothing stopping you from passing along the basics to your best buddy.
That being said, it’s not unusual for the average owner to get overwhelmed with the information out there about the very broad topic of “dog training,” and having someone explain the core principles one-on-one can really make all the difference.
If you’re the kind of person who has no issue with self-study programs or online classes, you may do just fine without enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer.
And in fact, we have our own online dog training classes you might want to consider!
Our 30 Things to Teach Your Dog in 30 Days along with our Puppy Raising Blueprint are both fantastic online courses led by Kayla Fratt, a certified dog behavior consultant through IAABC and a long-time writer of K9 of Mine! And we’re running a special where you can get 50% off with the code SAVE50 – hurrah!
If, on the other hand, you do a lot better when you’re being held accountable to a teacher or third party individual, you may want to really consider hiring a trainer who can help set you up with goals, homework, and specific training exercises to follow.
Just note that every dog is different, and successful training takes a ton of consistent practice and patience.
Dog Training Costs and Pricing FAQ
Are you ready to start training with your favorite furball? Here are some commonly asked questions and answers to help guide your search for the right trainer.
At what age should you start training your dog?
In most cases, you can start training your pooch at about 7 to 8 weeks of age — essentially, right when you bring him home. This will give him the best chance of laying down a strong foundation of mutt manners.
However, it’s never too late to start training your dog, either! It just might take some extra patience to help your pooch relearn new patterns in behavior.
Do dog trainers need a certification?
Unfortunately, there are no regulations when it comes to self-labeling oneself as a professional dog trainer in the United States. However, good dog trainers take the time to earn certifications through organizations like the IAABC and CCPDT. Those can be great sources for finding experienced, credentialed animals professionals.
You can use the databases provided by these organizations to help you track down an accredited trainer.
Punishment-based dog training vs reward-based dog training: Which is better?
You should always seek out a trainer who uses positive, reward-based methods since they’re the safest, most effective ways to train a dog. This form of training builds trust between you and your pooch and strengthens your relationship, rather than making your pooch feel insecure or afraid.
Reward-based training takes patience, but it’s ultimately the safer and more humane way to train your pooch. We always recommend avoiding trainers who rely heavily on aversive tools and punishment.
Can you use games to train your dog?
Absolutely! Dog training games are a wonderful way to teach your woofer new skills, and they will help strengthen your bond too.
And aside from all that, training games are fun for you and your four-footer!
Are private dog training classes better than group classes?
Private dog training classes offer plenty of perks since they can provide your pooch with individualized care. They’re also a must for any dogs who aren’t well socialized around other pets or those who get overwhelmed by lots of people.
On the other hand, group classes might be a better option for dogs who learn well by example and are well-behaved around other dogs and strangers.
Group dog training classes are usually more affordable too, and while you might not get the same individualized care that you would in a private setting, they can still be an effective way to help your dog learn the basics.
Hiring a dog trainer can be a bit expensive but doing so is a worthwhile investment in your dog’s future. With several different professional training options and affordable resources available, there are many ways to help your mutt learn his manners.
Have you hired a dog trainer? How much did you spend on a trainer? Tell us all about your experiences in the comments below!