” A lawyer’s time is his stock in trade.” Abraham Lincoln
“So is a dog trainer’s.” Captain Haggerty
I had an owner call me the other day to tell me that my prices were too high! Knowing what other trainers charge my response was, “When you compare, what you get, in the amount of time you receive it, I am best deal in town.” Looking back on it I think it went over her head but let’s look at things this way. What is it that you are going to get for your money?
If trainer A is going to charge you half what trainer B is going to charge you but will take at least twice as long to hopefully get the same results, is it really cheaper!? You have just spent twice as much time and hopefully gotten to the same level of training. The best question to ask a trainer is not just “How much do you charge?” but “What can I expect from my dog after I have spent x amount of money”. If I called a car dealer and said, “I want a car, how much do you charge?” They are going to ask me, “Do you want air conditioning? Sunroof? Hybrid?” I tell them that I just want a car. Well, they can give me a car that will run over 100K miles, has a smooth ride, brakes flawlessly, sunroof, heated seats, reverse camera, air conditioning, DVD players in the back for the kids and all the other bells and whistles. Or they can give me a car that has uncomfortable cloth seats, needs to be serviced every 20k miles or so, constantly needs a part replaced and over time becomes a cash drain only to be replaced in a few short years. At the end of the day, which car was cheaper?
You get what you pay for and my dad use to tell people, “I will give you three options: Fast, good cheap. Pick two.”
Here is another example:
Owner has Golden Retriever Puppy. She calls Trainer A and Trainer B.
Trainer A charges $675 for four lessons. That breaks down to $168.75 per hour. In four lessons, Trainer A tells the owner that at the first lesson her new puppy will be on a complete house training program and as long as she follows it, the accidents will stop immediately and also in that session, her puppy will be walking nicely on a loose leash. The trainer also informs her that at the end of the four sessions her puppy will be housebroken, nipping will have stopped, the dog will be walking nicely on a loose leash, sitting and staying, coming when called, laying down and staying for five minutes with distractions, going to her bed, leaving the room.
Trainer B charges $100 per hour. The first lesson the trainer addresses nipping and house training. The puppy is still nipping after the session. At the second session, the clicker is introduced along with some sit and stays INSIDE her quiet living room. The third session, they work on down with the puppy, again inside the home. The fourth session, they take the puppy outside to walk it on a leash. The fifth session, the puppy is starting to learn to sit outside. The sixth session, the puppy learned how to shake and roll over. The seventh session the puppy now comes goes to her bed and leaves the room on command. After seven lessons the puppy is not sitting and staying outside for three minutes with distractions, neither is she laying down and staying with distractions for five minutes. The puppy is starting to jump up on people so on lesson eight, the trainer now works on sit and stays with distractions.
The Owner spent $800 so far and the dog is not where Trainer A would have gotten it in four and spent $125 less and two hours less of her time. So was Trainer B really cheaper?
“Dog training is a labor intensive business.” Captain Haggerty
A woman with a seven year old German Shepherd with a biting history called me. Her dog had bitten in the past and now it bit a child and she was getting sued. She told me that I should give her a discount because now she was getting sued and it would cost her a lot of money. Before you agree with this woman, put yourself in the trainer’s shoes. When a dog trainer goes out to the home and works with an aggressive dog, that dog trainer is taking the chance of getting bitten. If that trainer gets bitten, it will incur extra expenses that they would not incur with your neighbor’s Yellow Lab six month old puppy. Medical bills. Injury. Out of work to nurse that hand or leg back to health. It is even possible that the trainer can receive such a bad bite that would cause nerve damage and destroy the trainer’s hand for life. What happens when an athlete receives a career ending injury? They are out of work. The same thing for a dog trainer. The only difference is the athlete probably made seven plus figures a year and was able to afford to invest, save a lot of money and have a good disability insurance. Most dog trainers are not in that position. So before you ask a dog trainer to give you a discount to work with your aggressive dog, be grateful that they are not charging you more.
When you shop around for a trainer, BEFORE you ask the charge, ask “What can I expect from my dog after the course is completed?” And I will leave you with this, “The oats are always cheaper after they come out of the horse.” – Captain Haggerty