6 min read

Should I Train My Dog Myself or Consult a Trainer?

daily-wag-should-i-train-my-dog-myself-or-consult-a-trainer-hero-image

Overview

January is National Train Your Dog Month. Brought to you by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, this initiative encourages pet parents to make dog training part of their everyday lives. So no matter whether your pet is a playful pup, a golden oldie, or anything in between, there’s no time like the present to start training your dog on a regular basis.

But what is the best way to train all the skills your dog needs? Can you train them yourself, or should you hire a professional trainer to get the job done right? The answer to this question depends on everything from your pup’s personality and training needs to your budget. Keep reading to find out whether DIY or professional dog training is the best choice.

training your dog outside in the backyard

Pros and cons of training your dog yourself

Why train your dog yourself when you could rely on a professional to help out? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of DIY dog training. 

Pros

  • Training strengthens the bond you share with your dog. If you want your dog to do what you ask, you need them to trust you. And one of the best ways to build a stronger bond is through positive communication, which is exactly what happens when you make training part of your dog’s day-to-day life.

  • No one knows your dog better than you. As a pet parent, you already have an advantage over any dog trainer: you know your dog inside-out. You understand their unique quirks, what they love and what they fear, and how to get the best out of them. This is a crucial tool to have in your kit when teaching your dog the right way to behave.

  • You can train at any time. In the spirit of National Train Your Dog Month, another benefit of the DIY route is that you can train your dog whenever you have a few spare moments. You can work in short and sharp training sessions while walking your dog, taking a break when working from home, or even when you’re snuggling up on the couch in front of the TV. Work training into your day whenever you can, and you and your dog will reap the rewards. 

  • It won’t cost a cent. When you train your dog yourself, you don’t have to pay expensive training fees. Aside from the cost of training treats, this approach won’t cost you a thing.

Cons

  • It can be hard to know where (and how) to start. Training a dog can be a daunting challenge for any pet parent, but especially first-timers. It can be difficult to work out the best approach to take with your pup, and you run the risk of reinforcing your dog’s bad habits without even realizing it.

  • Some dogs need expert help. Some complex and serious behavioral issues require professional attention, either from a dog trainer or perhaps an animal behaviorist. It’s important to realize when you’re out of your depth and expert help is required.

at a dog-friendly apartment - training your dog commands and tricks

What you need to train your dog yourself

If you decide to take the DIY dog training route, some basic preparation and planning are essential for success. Here are a few key things you need to get started: 

  • Knowledge of positive reinforcement training techniques. Punishment-based training methods are outdated and ineffective. The best approach is to train your dog using positive reinforcement — basically, rewarding your dog for doing the right thing — so research exactly how to train your dog using positive reinforcement before you get started.

  • Basic understanding of dog body language. Do you know how to tell if your dog is happy, nervous, bored, frightened, or angry just by looking at their body language? Studying your dog’s body language closely, and reading up on the telltale cues that can help you identify how your dog is feeling, will make training your pup a whole lot easier.

  • Rewards. Rewards play an important part throughout the training process, teaching your dog that doing what you want leads to nice things. Work out what sort of reward your dog values above all others — for many dogs, this is food, but it could also be cuddles, praise, or playtime. Make sure you have a ready supply of your dog’s favorite reward on hand when you start training.

  • Patience. Some dogs are quick learners, but others can take longer to respond to training. Getting frustrated at your dog for their slow progress isn’t going to help matters, so patience is essential. Keep calm and keep at it, and you’ll start to see results.

walking your dog to a dog park

Pros and cons of consulting a dog trainer

Thinking of getting a dog trainer to teach your dog the right way to behave? Make sure you consider the pros and cons first.

Pros

  • Expert advice and assistance. When you hire a professional dog trainer, you know you’re getting expert advice. Experienced trainers understand the best way to teach new skills to dogs and can help you build a closer relationship with your pup. 

  • Trainers don’t train dogs, they train pet parents. In many cases, dog trainers don’t actually train your dog — instead, their focus is on teaching you how to train your dog. This ensures that you don’t unwittingly teach or reinforce bad behavior, but that you go about training your pup the right way.

  • Help with problem behaviors. Does your dog have a particular problem behavior that you just can’t seem to get rid of, like jumping on strangers or pulling on their lead? An experienced trainer can suggest new approaches and techniques to help make those problems a thing of the past.

  • In-home training available. Is your dog at their most comfortable and focused when on their home turf? You can book a one-on-one, in-home training session to get your pet the personalized attention they need. 

  • Training classes are great for socialization. Another great benefit of using a dog trainer is that many offer group training classes. Not only are these “pawfect” for working on your pup’s basic obedience skills, but they also give your pooch a chance to socialize with other dogs.

Cons

  • Trainers cost money. The major drawback of dog trainers is that they don’t offer services for free. Group training sessions can be an affordable option, but booking your dog in for a few one-on-one training sessions can cost hundreds of dollars.

  • You still need to put the training skills you learn into practice. Hiring a dog trainer isn’t a silver-bullet solution to all your doggy behavior problems. It’s still your responsibility as a pet parent to put in the hard yards and train your dog to become a well-behaved family member.

  • Choosing the right trainer can be difficult. There’s no shortage of dog trainers to choose from, all of them with varying qualifications, experience, and skill levels. Finding the right person for your dog isn’t always an easy task.

dog leashes and collars hanging on the wall

What to consider if you choose a dog trainer

Need help from a professional dog trainer? Make sure you consider these factors before getting started.

  • Finding the right person is crucial. The best dog trainer is someone with a training philosophy that matches your own, someone with plenty of experience and a reputable qualification under their belt, and someone who is an effective communicator with people and dogs. For more information, check out our guide to the 5 key characteristics to look for in dog trainers.

  • Choose group or one-on-one sessions. Group training sessions are great for basic skills and socialization, while one-on-one sessions are a big help for dogs who need intensive training.

  • Stick to your budget. The next factor you’ll need to consider is your budget. Prices can vary substantially between trainers, and based on whether you attend group classes or one-on-one in-home training sessions. Shop around to find an affordable and reliable trainer near you.

  • You still have to work at it. Taking your dog along to a few obedience classes won’t turn them into a perfectly behaved pooch. If you’re going to teach your dog the skills they need for life, you’ll need to put in plenty of hard work at home. No matter how young or old your dog may be, regular training is an essential part of everyday life.

dog training tricks at a campground

Is it worth getting a dog trainer?

So, all things considered, is it worth paying for a dog trainer? The answer depends on several factors, including everything from the type of training your dog needs to your budget. 

It is possible to train your dog yourself, provided you’re willing to be patient and that you’re committed to regular training sessions. 

That said, any dog (and any pet parent for that matter) can benefit from spending time with an experienced dog trainer. If nothing else, a trainer can bring a new perspective and pick up on anything you may be unwittingly doing wrong. They can also offer the expert guidance you need to make sure you and your dog are on the right track.

Whichever approach you choose, don’t forget the all-important message behind National Train Your Dog Month. When training becomes part of everyday life with your dog, there are many wonderful benefits to enjoy. 

If you need some help teaching your dog to be a good boy or girl, book personalized, one-on-one dog training with Wag!. Every trainer on the Wag! platform has been thoroughly vetted and can customize a training plan to suit your pooch, so start searching for a trainer today.



Comments (0)

Leave a comment

Your name

Email

Comment

0/250

media-picker-icon
Add photo(s) of your petoptional
Wag! Caregiver
Get the app