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Your Training Needs Versus Your Budget

In the perfect world, cars would never need expensive repairs, landlords would never announce rent increases, and student loans would be "forgiven" if you just asked nicely.

In the real world, there's often more "month" than "money," and it can be hard to budget in for your dog training needs! 

Here are some top ways to get the most for your money while training your dog.

1) Free Resources. Youtube. Library. The one caveat here is that if you youtube things like "How to train your dog to stop pulling on leash," you will get dozens of returned videos -- some using great methods and some using awful ones. A good guideline to use on which methods are appropriate is, Does the training method seem to be primarily rewarding good behavior, or primarily punishing bad behavior? Youtube channels like KikoPup and the Donna Hill channel are always good places to start. If you're looking into free resources at the library, check the publication date of the training manuals you're looking into. Many books published before the 1990's or 2000's advocated the use of choke chains and other training gear that's more recently been jettisoned for more positive-style training. Try to get a book published within the last decade, if possible. Ian Dunbar, Pat Miller, and Jean Donaldson are some authors to search out, and the library does have all their books even if you have to put them on hold. Most trainers also have a "short list" of books they recommend, and will give you that list even if you don't buy training from them.

2) Train on your own until you get stuck. The best use of your money for professional training is for the things that you really, really can't get through by yourself. Using the leash-walking example: If you and your dog figured it out on your own and everything is going fine, except when squirrels or other heavy distractions appear, and you can't meet that challenge by yourself.

3) Put some thought into *when* you and your dog go into training. You're going to want to start formal training when you are not super-swamped in your own life. If you are in school and doing finals and term papers for three out of the four weeks while your dog is in training, you will be distracted and busy and get not quite as much out of it. If possible, plan and schedule your training for a not-quite-so-busy time.

4) Keep a training log (written or video) of each practice you do with your dog between sessions. Most trainers will view these for free, as long as they are kept relatively short and to-the-point. If you are taking video make a note of the specific things you want to be looked at (such as "at 1:23 he pulled towards a squirrel, what should I have done there?")

5) Actually do the practices. If in Week 1 the trainer introduces a new skill to your dog, if that skill is not practiced and mastered by Week 2, then progress is slowed because Week 2 will now need to be spent working on the things that the dog should have learned in Week 1. You will get so much more for your money if you help your dog to learn the very maximum in the amount of time you have!

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