Saving money: Dog training isn’t just for the rich

Because I don’t believe that only those with money should be able to train their dogs, I have a few ways to help you out. Many other trainers have similar programs: if you don’t live in my area, you should ask them. Don’t be discouraged if the first trainer says no: keep asking around! (Or ask if they have an apprentice who would like to start cutting their teeth for a discounted rate!)

If you’re thinking, “Gosh, I wish I could afford Jenna’s dog training services,” then read on.


I do absolutely work in trade. I pay whatever the going rate is for services, no less than $35/hour for what’s considered “menial labor.” Services I’m interested in are:

  • Yoga, pilates, personal training, or other exercise classes (Paying on whatever you would normally charge for them.)
  • House cleaning
  • Yard work
  • Cooking (this is one of the things that has the most bang for your buck: personal chef services are EXPENSIVE. You will want to look up local prices for personal chefs, and I’m happy to adjust: if a meal is a meal for 4 plus two appetizers, I’m perfectly happy to have a casserole for 6 instead. I count it as $80 per meal, averaging from these websites: Dinner By DesignChef Monalisa. You’re welcome to use a different website and show me.) (Note: I eat dairy, eggs, and fish, but not chicken, beef, pork, etc. I don’t have any allergies.)
  • Pet sitting (mine)
  • Dog walking (mine)

Pro Bono

If you’re really having problems, and you’re working and can’t trade, I do have a pro bono program. There’s a waiting list for this program, but I try to slot in an appointment twice a month: basically I have one pro bono client at a time. If you’re in desperate straits, ask me about it.

Sliding Scale

I’m still trying to figure out how to work a sliding scale, to be honest. I know other businesses do it, and I think it’s a fantastic idea. If you have an idea of how this works, let me know! If you cannot afford my rates and think you have a fair price in mind, feel free to suggest it. (You’ll get farther if you tell me how you came up with it, too!)



FAQs: Some short answers

FAQ: Do you ever trade?

Answer: Very rarely, though I’m perfectly willing. I don’t want dog training to be only for rich people! I’d trade for cooking, cleaning, gardening and indexing. I think right now I have it set that I’ll “pay” someone $35/hour for any of those things, but if you think something else is fair, I’m willing to negociate!


FAQ: My dog is x years old. Is she too told to train?

Answer: Heavens no! I’ve retrained 14-year-old human aggressive dogs, 16-year-old barkers, and many, many, many 9 and 10 year old dog aggressive dogs.

Dogs are like people. If they stop learning, then when someone asks them to start again it’s a slow start: they have to re-learn how to learn! So expect it might take a little more tenacity to break old bad habits and learn new good ones, but you’ll get there.

In older dogs we have to be careful of physical strain, so any time you’re training an older dog that has to be taken into account. Be sure to disclose any issues the dog is having! Arthritis, knee soreness, partial blindness — they all matter. Keep those in mind, be tenacious and patient, and you can accomplish great things.

FAQ: I just heard about this great thing for anxiety, called _______. Does it work?

Answer: Most of the anxiety remedies out there work for a limited number of dogs. Typically, they work for dogs who have mild anxiety and just need something to take the edge off. Rarely do they work with dogs who have serious anxiety — but of course, there’s always an except to that rule!

The two most common things I hear working are Rescue Remedy and Thundershirts. Both can be found through a quick Google search! Rarely do I hear about those enzyme collars/plug-ins working.

Saving money: tips and tricks

I just brought home a lovely new water bowl for my dogs. It’s heavy duty glass, not plastic, so it won’t leach scary chemicals into the water they drink so much of, and it’s big enough that I don’t have to refill it every 2 hours when I’m boarding dogs.

It’s a punch bowl. It cost me $6.

Here is my first tip and trick: if you want nice bowls for your dogs, even ones that match your house, head to a Goodwill or Discovery Shop second-hand store and pick up dishes, bowls, etc. These won’t have the fancy no-tip qualities some dog bowls do, so if you’re in need of a no-tip dish, then you might have to shell out the cash to a pet store. But if your dog eats or drinks and doesn’t paw or nudge his bowl, then this might just work for you! And my pretty crystal punch bowl is so much more attractive than the plastic red bowl they were using before…

Does your dog, like mine, go through toys at an alarming rate? I swear, Lily’s favorite thing in life is to DESTROY AS FAST AS POSSIBLE whatever toys I’ve given her. There are a couple of fixes for this.

1. The dollar store. You’d be surprised how many dollar stores have dog sections! No, the toys there aren’t high quality, but I don’t care. Lily can destroy anything; she might as well destroy something that cost me a dollar, and therefore isn’t going to make me whimper.

2. Old clothes. This is not as safe as getting actual dog toys, because if your dog ingests the clothing it’s not specially made to pass through. (Of course, I’ve heard about PLENTY of dogs who end up in emergency for eating dog toys anyway, so…) I take my old jeans, once I can no longer wear them, and cut off the legs. Those legs can be braided, tied in knots, shredded into different patterns — anything that makes them look like something other than jeans! My favorite is to tie either three knots or to braid them, so that Lily can’t rip them apart right away. One pair of jeans makes about four toys, so that’s a pretty good deal! (I cut the legs off and then quarter them.)

“But,” I hear you cry, “doesn’t that make them go after your clothes?” Nah. That’s why you change the shape, so the dogs don’t relate it back!

As a dog trainer, I go through A LOT of dog treats. One of the handy things I’ve learned is to buy bags of really super fancy dog food (I use Ziwi Peak dog food), preferably something that’s been freeze dried or is high in protein. Something that tastes nice and meaty! There are a few brands that work well, among them Ziwi Peak and the food-in-a-tube, Natural Balance (this must be cut up and kept cold). I find most dogs LOVE those two foods. Sure, $35/5lbs of dog food is expensive… but 5lbs worth of treats would be much MORE expensive! (Potato chips make good dog treats, too, but don’t tell your vet I said so!)

And speaking of dog food, if you’re looking for a decent but inexpensive alternative to feeding your dog, try the Costco or Sam’s Club brands of dog foods. They aren’t spectacular, but you can’t beat ’em for the price. (On a scale of 1-10, they’re a 6 or 7.)

Finally, of course, check out your local pet stores. Pet Food Express has buy-one-get-one-half-off days, and every day is buy-three-get-one-free. The Pet People of Los Gatos have a $5 coupon on their website, which they can scan right off your smart phone. (One of their clever employees suggest I bookmark it, so now I walk in and pull it up!)