The best type of dog training for both you and your dog depends on the outcomes you hope to achieve. If you want your dog to learn agility training, go to someone who specializes in those techniques. Regardless of whether you want your dog to learn basic behavior or competitive-level tricks, the majority of dog training is actually about training the owner how to communicate with their dog. Most professional dog trainers agree that a model of training based on positive reinforcement breeds a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. The alternative to positive reinforcement training is using force or aggression techniques like physical punishment or shock-collar training to get the dog to do (or not do) a behavior. While the dog may learn how to behave as you direct, it is also learning to communicate with force and aggression, and will in turn use those behaviors on other dogs (or people) that are smaller or weaker than it is. Before signing up with a dog trainer, meet with the trainer and ask for references. Watch the trainer interact with your dog, and make sure they treat your dog with patience and firm kindness. Ask them questions about their training methods:
- What type of training methods do you use?
- What is your background and training, and how did you become a dog trainer?
- How long do you expect that we will work together before we achieve the results I’m after?
Dog training depends on the dog and how much homework the dog owner is willing to put in. Puppy training is similar to dog training in that the onus of the work depends on the owner learning new ways to interact with their dog. For a quick crash course, you can opt for a single, two hour smart-start puppy training consultation to teach you the ins and outs of being a new dog parent. You can learn how to manage potty training and what to do if the puppy experiences separation anxiety. As long as you’re willing to work on dog training a little bit each day, your puppy will quickly learn these new behaviors. If you’re not confident about training your puppy yourself, you can enroll in a 6- to 8-week puppy training course, with weekly lessons touching on everything from bite control to obedience. Puppies usually need to be at least three months old for group training classes. If you want more intensive one-on-one work, you can opt for private lessons. Some behavior problems can be resolved in one session if the dog owner learns and can implement new skills. In the case of more serious issues, 3 to 10 private sessions can typically correct challenges.
Pet sitting provides your precious pet with in-home care. A pet-sitter can make a brief visit during the day to provide snacks, playtime or affection, or stay at your house for one or more nights to tend to your pet. Prices for pet-sitting will vary based on length of the visit. Nationally, pet sitting prices range from $20 to $30, although prices run higher for your sitter to stay the night. Prices will also be affected by where you live in the country. Here are some examples of average pet-sitting prices based on length of time and region:
- 30-minute visit: $17 in a small Texas town.
- 30-minute visit: $25 in Southern California.
- 45-minute visit: $28.
- 60-minute visit: $32.
- Overnight stay (10 hours): $50 in Texas.
- Overnight stay (10 hours): $85 in Southern California.
- 12 hours: $100.
- 24 hours: $200. This is a good option for a sick, elderly or brand-new pet that needs constant supervision.
House-sitting can be a lifesaver when you’re leaving town for any length of time. Whether you work remotely, you’re taking a much-needed vacation, or you just want to road-trip for a few days, it’s wise to have a pro keep an eye on your house and pets while you’re gone. Your home is more likely to stay safe and you won’t have to wrangle the kitty into a kennel to travel with you. The national average pet-sitting price ranges between $20 and $30. Pet-sitting and house-sitting costs will vary based on where you live in the country and regional labor rates. Another factor in cost is how long you want the house-sitter to stay. Some people prefer to have the house-sitter stay the night at their house, perhaps to care for an elderly pet or simply to keep a watchful eye on the home at all times. Overnight stays will cost more, ranging anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on services provided. For day visits, house-sitting and pet-sitting prices will increase incrementally the longer the visit and the more service you want performed. For example, a quick 10-minute visit to feed and walk the pet and bring in the mail could be $12.50, a 25-minute visit could be $18, a 40-minute visit $25, and a 50-minute visit $32. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.
Dog training shouldn’t wait until you’re having behavior problems. If you get a new puppy, start from the beginning with professional training to give both you and your puppy the tools you need for a healthy relationship. Dog training is as much about teaching the owner how to interact with their new dog as it is about the dog learning to behave. Puppy training can start as early as eight weeks old. Trainers who offer puppy training programs may works specifically with dogs between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks old. Trainers can teach owners about potty training and how to deal with accidents, working with separation anxiety, and training your pooch out of destructive behaviors like chewing, biting and demand barking. Puppies will start to learn to walk on-leash and other basic skills.
In addition to behavior training, socializing your puppy is an important part of dog training. Socializing your dog means they become comfortable and confident in a variety of settings and have a great foundation for becoming a well-adjusted adult dog. After your puppy has had the proper vaccinations, you can start to introduce it to a variety of different dogs and people in safe settings.