Rewarding your dog...trainer
February 28, 2012 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Should we tip our dog-training instructor? How do we do it non-awkwardly?

Our dog has done beginners' and is now in intermediate training at Big Box Pet Store, with the same trainer. Dog and trainer like each other a lot. Dog recently had some issues with another dog in the class (acting defensive/aggressive), and was generally grouchy and snappy during class, which was very unlike her. The trainer had us come, outside of class time, so our dog could socialize with his dog that he brings to work with him. We are planning on returning later this week sometime to continue. This is during the trainer's regular work hours - we are not paying for a private session. He spent at least half an hour with us.

He has not mentioned getting paid for going, obviously, above and beyond just doing the training class. I think he just really likes our dog and his job. I feel like it would be appropriate to tip him or offer some appreciative gesture, but how do we bring it up non-awkwardly? I am very Midwestern so I feel like offering money when none has been explicitly expected can be weird, like you are assuming the other person is just in it for the money than because they care. Or at least, I have felt awkward in the past when I did something as a favor for a friend/acquaintance and they wanted to pay me for it.

Is it appropriate to tip him/ how much? How do we bring it up? Would it be better/more appreciated to write a letter to the store manager letting them know that this employee is extra awesome? Are there other alternatives?
posted by nakedmolerats to Pets & Animals (6 answers total)
Best answer: Whatever you feel is appropriate, money-wise (or a gift card, if that feels less weird), put into a nice thank-you card that can be shared with the boss, handed to the trainer with a, "Thanks so much for all your help," should do the trick.

The card envelope takes away the, "Hmm. Money" weirdness, I find.
posted by xingcat at 5:14 PM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: I don't know if you should tip him or not, but I think that in addition to the tip/card/whatever, the very best thing you could do to get him recognition would be to go the website of the big box store, find the "contact us" link, and email HR to tell them that he is an excellent trainer and you are so pleased with him / the store. That will definitely get back to him / his boss, and will be worth more than just talking to his boss.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:21 PM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes to Xingcat's format.

As to much can you afford? I'm guessing the trainers at places like PetCo and PetSmart do not get paid all that well. Having someone who cares enough about animals and helping YOUR animal seems like a significant deal. Given that you've had the same trainer for both beginning and intermediate, $100 (or $50 at least) seems like a gift that acknowledges the relationship and the effort they've put in.

Honestly, however, a card with a simple thank you without any sort of money wold mean a great deal if finances are tight. We all like being appreciated.
posted by arnicae at 5:24 PM on February 28, 2012

I'd go the card-route, and, without getting too hammy about it, make the card include your dog. Obviously you're the customer, and you're giving the tip/card, but your dog benefits from training as much as you benefit from an obedient dog. At least add the dog's "signature" as it were.

Gift cards are great, but since you had outside-class time with the guy, any personal connection you made could be exploited-- a copy of a book he saw you reading, or a DVD of a movie you discussed wouldn't go amiss.

Also, Presumably your bigbox petstore has places around it where the guy could conveniently shop. Those would be good places to choose from when picking a gift-card/cert.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:40 PM on February 28, 2012

A friend of mine was a trainer for Petco. She never -expected- a tip but was always thrilled to get one when she did... $20 and $50 another time which was enough to get gasps from all us pet store peeons.
posted by The otter lady at 10:46 PM on February 28, 2012

My gf and I had the same question regarding tipping our great trainer at PetSmart (where I'll never go again thanks to their Pit Bull ban, but that's another rant) -- we were concerned that it wasn't allowed or was somehow inappropriate. In the end, on the way out after my dog's graduation, I just handed him a couple of twenties and said thanks. He was very gracious and thanked me back.

We worried for nothing.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:57 AM on February 29, 2012

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