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— September 17, 2013 —

The high cost of (not) training your dog.
by Daniel McElroy

It can be expensive to have a dog trained by a professional, then again, it can cost a whole lot more to not have your dog trained.

I just had another conversation with a guy I see regularly. We’ll call him Sam. Sam works in my neighborhood. He has often related the problems his brother is having with his young German Shepherd Dog. He started talking to me a few months back when the dog was in his chewy, puppy stage and I gave him some advise on appropriate toys and how to manage the puppy to reduce and redirect the pup’s chewing. I think it helped because I never heard about it again.

A few months later, Sam starts to tell me that his brother’s dog had been lunging at dogs on the street. It sounded like the typical over-excited playful lunging, but I couldn’t be sure unless he brought the dog in for an evaluation. He asked lots of questions about training, times, style of training and the cost associated with training. I explained a range of options and how classes could be individual, private lessons or he could do a package of training days with daycare, whatever he wanted to do...

I think the prices I quoted him may have been a bit more than he expected to pay. Sam told his brother all of this information and I never did hear from the dog’s owner. I heard a few more complaints about the bad behavior and tried to offer advice. The most important thing I told him was that his brother needed to bring the dog in for a meeting.

Sam even started to hint that his brother might be thinking about getting rid of the dog. His behavior was becoming a problem. Then, a few weeks ago, I ran into Sam again. He tells me that his brother’s dog is, “Doing much better. He is not lunging as much.”

“Great”, I think. “Hopefully the dog is coming around.” Even if I don’t get a client, I like to hear that a dog is getting better and hopefully won’t end up in a shelter.

I didn’t see Sam for a few weeks after that. Fast forward to today. I see him and he tells me that his brother’s dog has bitten another dog and he had to pay the vet’s fee. It was between two and three thousand dollars!!!

What a great deal. Sam’s brother saved a few hundred dollars on training, but ended up having to pay a couple grand to the vet and someone’s dog got injured in the process.

I can’t say with absolute certainty if training would have prevented this from happening. I’ve still never met the German Shepherd. I think it probably could have helped prevent this, but I won’t be so bold as to say it with certainty. What I can say with absolute certainty that good training is an investment that will pay you back over the life of your dog. If good training prevents only one fight, or one foray into a busy street you just got your money back. If it stops one dog from running away, or one dog from getting injured in a fight, your investment just paid out a dividend. Enjoy it. You earned it.

In all honesty, you may not even know when your well-trained dog made a good decision and saved you a thousand dollars.

I don’t know where things will go with this German Shepherd. I told Sam that if his brother doesn’t bring the dog in, there isn’t any more I can do.

Training your dog is an important investment. Sure, there is a cost involved, but it will make both of your lives better and just may save you a lot of money in the long run.

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