Dog trainers are crucial for helping owners and dogs succeed at obedience training and working through behavior issues. Unfortunately, they can also be pricey and paying for private lessons are not a viable long-term solution for many families. 

The good news is – there are a couple secrets that can help you save a lot of money, while still getting the most out of your training time.

Online Resources Are Endless

You shouldn’t consult the internet for medical advice – for dog training questions however it can be very educational and helpful.

Many professional dog trainers have blogs and training libraries on their websites, in which they freely share fantastic training advice and tips. The online dog training resources you can find range from basic obedience training over behavior modification suggestions to thousands of trick tutorials on YouTube. 

Before hiring a professional trainer, spend some time using Google to find the answers to your questions. You might be surprised at how comprehensive the free information you can find is!

Trainers Don’t Do Magic, Either

While professional dog trainers will have ideas and insights that you do not have, the training process itself is mostly a question of mileage. The best trainer in the world cannot fix an underlying behavioral problem in one single session. The real work is done by you – the owners – in between the sessions with the trainer. By practicing frequently (ideally daily), you will see progress over time – whether or not you have a professional over every week. 

Funny enough, it is “quantity over quality” in dog training, because building new connections in your dog’s brain is mostly a question of time and dedication.

Training Session Can Be Super Short

You do not need to practice for 30-60 minutes every day. Training sessions of that length will mostly just be frustrating and demotivating for your dog (and maybe you as well!). The most productive training sessions are about 5 minutes long. Trainers that tell you to have very long, drawn-out sessions mostly do not know exactly how to solve your dog’s problem and give non-realistic training suggestions as a result. Your dog will do much better if you keep the sessions short and sweet – and of course, frequent.

Treats Will Make Or Break Your Training

Treats can be a dealbreaker in training. They are your dog’s payment, and if your dog doesn’t like his payment, well then … he might just not work as hard as he could!

Many dog trainers carry a “secret treat pouch” in which they have a mixture of very high-value treats. No wonder dogs perform better for them than for their owner’s milkbones. 

A lot of store-bought treats contain a lot of unnecessary ingredients to make them shelf-stable, which often do not taste so good to our dogs. 

High-value treats that will be guaranteed to make your dog sit, stay and heel as well as he can are: hotdogs, string cheese, freeze-dried liver, cooked chicken and roast beef. A secret treat that many dog trainers always carry also is pre-made raw food.

You can find this in the refrigerated section of your pet food store, or even in the pet food aisle in a supermarket. The pre-made raw food looks like little meatballs made from chicken, beef, fish etc. –  dogs tend to love them because they contain what they love the most, and that is: meat.

No need to spend hundreds of dollars on weekly private training sessions – by being smart and thinking out of the box, you will be able to train your dog all by yourself, (mostly!) no trainer needed.


About the Author: Steffi Trott is the founder and head trainer at SpiritDog Training, a dog training company dedicated to providing extensive training information online. Steffi and her three dogs compete in dog sports and live in New Mexico.