What's In a Service Rate?


You may be of the conviction that hiring a Professional Dog Trainer is expensive. Ever wonder what is behind the rates you pay?

At VivaPaws, we believe in transparency. We want our clients to feel they get value for money. We are not out to make a great profit, but our rates are reflective of the fact that our service is Top Tier. Vivi Myslik Jorgensen has earned an elite certification, which is considered one of the very best in the dog training community. Her name and reputation is paired with the world famous brand, Karen Pryor, and as such Vivi upholds VivaPaws to the highest standards in an industry which is unregulated. Having signed a Pledge with Karen Pryor Academy  holds VivaPaws accountable for our training methods, to always train and teach using the latest scientific positive methods. This is a stamp of Highest Quality Service to our clients.

With the pet industry growing alongside a shift in focus, where dogs are now considered more of a family member than ‘just a dog’, pet owners are willing to invest in their health and wellness more than ever. 

As more people consider getting a pet, they often fail to realize all that it entails. When we have kids we know that we are responsible for their wellbeing for at least 18 years or until they go to college or get a job and are able to take care of themselves. We never stop worrying about them but the main caretaker role is relinquished. Getting a pet, especially a dog, requires a similar amount of responsibility. They not only have to be fed and taken to the vet, they also need physical as well as mental stimulation. With our lives becoming increasingly busier and filled with activities ,both before and after work, and on weekends, it is interesting that we choose to invite a dog into our family when, in reality, we are away from home for so many hours a day. 

Too many of us have a vision in our heads of the ‘perfect’ picture….. a dog who listens to us, walks nicely on a leash, and who will cuddle with us on the couch watching a movie. In  other words….a dog who is not ‘work’. With all our daily activities we just want to come home and relax. We don’t want to be bothered, or come home to a puppy who has peed several places on the floor or chewed on our nice furniture because she was bored, or even anxious, being alone for all those hours. We forgot something, didn’t we, when we ran out and brought the cutie home?

We forgot that a little puppy is much like a baby. They cannot be left alone without supervision, they need our loving care. Or our adult dog needs to have something to do when we are away all day, in order not to destroy things. Depending on the breed we chose, he may need a lot of stimulation, and long walks every day to keep him out of trouble. 

So we end up having to contact a professional to help with his nuisance behaviors. Hiring a highly qualified and certified trainer is not cheap. In recognition of this, VivaPaws is offering a six month interest free Payment Plan to help spread the cost of our services to clients who may need room to breathe. 

But what is really hidden in those somewhat expensive service rates, you may wonder?

If you consider the price of having to replace your expensive rug or couch because your puppy/dog ruined it, getting help with the behaviors causing problems, or even teaching your dog good manners to prevent future problems, is perhaps not so steep after all.

VivaPaws’ rates are based on the following:

  • Elite certification (KPA Certified Training Partner).
  • Expert knowledge of the Clicker Methodology.
  • Extensive time spent driving to and from clients: Gas, mileage, service repair.
  • Other expenses….bills, training treats, etc.
  • Professional Membership fees
  • VivaPaws’ access to a large network of other KPA CTP’s and Animal Behavior Consultants, through professional memberships, giving VivaPaws an upper hand when seeking advice on a case. This ensures qualified, expert,  and professional guidance for you and your dog, as well as VivaPaws being held responsible for our training methods by these organizations.
  •  A percentage of the Service Rate goes toward continuing education: Seminars, workshops, webinars, courses, in order to stay on top of the game and providing clients with the latest research and techniques.
  • At VivaPaws we are committed to excellent service and thus provide our clients with a complimentary clicker and treat pouch, all part of the Service Rate as well. Most trainers will charge extra for this (if they even offer it).
  • Marketing
  • Client Support... Phone calls, emails, one follow-up session
  • Behavior Analysis
  • Administrative work….compiling training plans, weekly follow-ups, progress logs, research,  consultation reports.
  • Salary: At most, a trainer might take 50 percent as a salary out of the service rate, but only after bills and tax has been paid. There is no guarantee for a salary every time.
  • In the beginning of setting up business, all income goes back into the business to keep it going.
  • Essentially, dog trainers work a lot of hours for free. It is not as lucrative as one might think.
  • Rates are set in comparison to other trainers in the service area, with the same or similar educational background.

So….what’s in a Service Rate….. rather a lot when you think about it. Trainers who have a facility you can bring your dog to will mostly charge less because there is no driving involved.  

Experience is a factor many trainers emphasize on their websites. Naturally, having had success in training many dogs is an important parameter. However, do not be fooled by success stories. The definition of success is subjective. Trainers may claim success, while clients may have a different perspective, but may not be in a position where they are able to verbalize their uneasy feelings. Also, clients are not necessarily equipped to judge a trainer’s skills or methods. It may seem convincing to the client, who again may not be as knowledgeable about dog behavior or body language, and thus may miss the signals the dog is sending in the learning phase. The downside to having years of experience is the possibility of becoming complacent, or having developed bad habits that are not necessarily beneficial to dogs’ learning. 

Essentially, your educational background, having acquired the obligatory scientific knowledge about dogs and how they learn, as well as being able to read their body language, knowing how to modify behavior, and not least, the ability to communicate with them in a language they understand, is the prerequisite for being a great trainer……not how much experience you have.

Traditional trainers, who use force and/or punitive methods to make dogs obey, will have different criteria for what makes a great trainer. You, as the dog owner, will have to decide, based on your conscience, ethics, and beliefs, which methodology and service you and your dog require, and what consequences you are willing to live with. Unfortunately, you cannot ask your dog, so you will have to decide what the price of your dog’s well-being is worth, as well as your peace of mind.