Are Dog Training Classes Worth the Money?

While you may be excited to shower your pup with love and affection, you shouldn't forget the importance of training. But do you need to spend the extra cash on a professional trainer?

If you've just gotten your new pup, you know how much of a handful it can be. From finding the right food to taking it out on walks and making sure it behaves, taking care of a dog can be a time consuming process. With many people juggling work, family and now a pet, it may seem necessary to get help from professionals to speed up the process of integrating your pup into your life. One of the most popular ways to do so is with dog training classes. But with dogs already costing S$3,200 per year, it's worth finding out whether dog training classes are actually worth the additional cost. Below, we break down how much dog training classes cost, how you can save, and whether these classes will be a beneficial expense for you.

How Much Do Dog Training Classes Cost?

There are two main types of dog training classes: puppy training and obedience training. Puppy training is typically recommended for puppies under 2-3 months of age and is used to introduce them to the leash, help them get used to vet visits and grooming and build confidence around dogs, people and objects. Obedience training is for older puppies and dogs (6 months +) and will cover subjects like potty training, barking problems, aggression and fix problem areas like separation anxiety, biting or shyness. Classes typically last an hour to 1.5 hours in length. You will need to commit to 6 to 10 lessons for most dog training packages, so it's important that you book times that you know you are free to avoid missing class and losing money.

In general, puppy courses cost  for a total average cost of S$720 for a 5-6 lesson course. Obedience and behavior classes cost  1 per class for a total of S$808 for a typical course of 5-10 lessons. As is the case with most courses, private training will cost you around 40% more than group lessons. However, the tradeoff is that you will get personalised attention for your pup, which can be especially important if you are noticing behavioral problems. Otherwise, group lessons are generally small (between 5-8 dogs per group), so they can be a good budget option if your dog is generally well behaved and is able to socialise with other dogs.

How Much Will It Cost To Train My Dog Myself?

If you have the time, then you can try to train your dog on your own. While it could take some time and patience, it's not nearly as difficult as people may think and plenty of dog owners successfully train their dogs on their own. To be prepared for your training sessions, you can stock up on healthy treats, clickers, harnesses, leashes, handy cleaning materials for outdoor walks and other training materials to replicate a professional environment as much as possible. On average, you can expect to spend an average of S$282 for training equipment for your dog.

Another important point to consider is the consumption of food and snacks. By personally handling the training, you are in full control of the type of food and quantity given. This is especially important for owners with nutritionally sensitive dogs with specific allergies. Dog owners are alert to the food given to their dogs to prevent food allergies from flaring up. Only hypoallergenic food and snacks are given, and some dog owners may feel more at ease when we know exactly what we are feeding our dogs, which may not be so once they are sent to training.

Another difference between training your dog with a professional and training on your own is the power you hold over the type of training. In general, there are two types of training methods: aversive and reward-based. Aversive methods rely on negative reinforcement like loud noises, harsh scoldings, and physical corrections to  induce a sense of fear in the dog. Reward-based training is the opposite, where you reward your dog for positive behavior by using treats and loads of pets and praises. While either method can be effective, reward-based training will produce a more loving environment for your pup and will reduce your dog's fear of you. Besides knowing the type of training you want to use, you should always research training techniques to make sure you are training your dog correctly and effectively. Lastly, if you own certain breeds like Akitas, Pit bulls and Dogo Argentinos, you are not allowed to train them on your own. Instead, they will require training from an accredited dog trainer.

Training Your Pup On Your Own Is Cheaper, But Is It Always the Best Option?

While training your dog on your own will be approximately 62% cheaper than hiring a trainer, there are cases where the extra cost of professional training will be worth it. For instance, it could be worth turning your pup over to a professional trainer if you have already tried training your dog and there are still issues with obedience and behavior. Another reason where a professional trainer could be worth the cost is if you are trying to prepare your dog for dog shows or talent competitions. On the other hand, you may be better off taking control of the training if you have a rescue dog that is fearful of strangers or has certain behavioral traits that require a unique approach to training. Certain trainers may not be able to adjust their training method, resulting in more harm than good. You also won't need a dog trainer if you adopted an older, well-trained dog or if your dog appears to be easy to train.

How To Save On Dog Training

The answer to whether dog training classes are worth the money depends on your pup's unique situation. If you find that you will benefit more from a trainer but are concerned about the costs, there are a few ways you can save. First, you can consider group classes. As we saw earlier, they're much cheaper than individual classes. Second, you can also do a hybrid of training - handle the training personally and sign up for an individual class (S$100-S$200 per class) to help you with specific problem areas. Lastly, you can check  if your rewards credit card provides cashback when you buy training classes. If these purchases don't qualify for rewards or points, then you can use your rewards card for purchasing dog training tools like leashes, crates and treats.

This article is contributed by Anastassia Evlanova, Senior Research Analyst at ValueChampion, a personal finance research firm.