Dear Labby: Dog trainer costs more than piano lessons?

Dear Labby,

We recently adopted an energetic Jack Russell mix. The shelter staff encouraged us to work with a dog trainer and gave us a few recommendations. I’m more than willing to pay for that, but the prices seem outrageous, averaging $80 a session. Our son’s piano teacher charges $60 per hour and I have a hunch it takes more training and talent to be a professional piano player than a dog trainer! Do I just need to get over it and recognize that people pay big bucks for their dogs and not necessarily for artistic endeavors?

Signed:

Off-put that Funding Fido’s Trainer Unleashes Needless Expense

Dear Off-put that Funding Fido’s Trainer Unleashes Needless Expense,

Think of it this way: Unless you’ve got a mini Chopin on your hands, the dog will require far fewer sessions to become a great pet than your kid will need to become a great pianist.

Or how about this. It probably also takes less practice and dedication to become a decent plumber, but I know who I’m calling if the toilet overflows — and I’ll pay whatever he asks.

The point is, O.F.F. T.U.N.E.: Art is important, a happy dog is important, and a working toilet is important. A well-behaved pup can absolutely mean the difference between a peaceful household and one in utter chaos. And while it’s not rocket science or Rachmaninoff, effective dog training takes education and experience. Many animal shelters cite behavioral issues — usually correctable — as a primary reason families surrender pets. These issues are not the dog’s fault; if you expect your canine to adapt to a human-centric world, rules need to be reasonable and boundaries consistent (not as effortless as it seems).

Final thought: Any dog trainer worth her salt will model kindness, teach effective communication techniques, and encourage a lifelong respect for companion animals from every member of the family. Can you really put a price on that?