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NogginLabs was founded on the notion that custom e-learning design and development is the ultimate horizontal industry. Time and again, each new project, client, and industry proves it. The biggest advantage of the e-learning horizontal is cross-pollinating ideas from two wildly different domains. A restaurant service simulation for iPad may influence a high-fashion online retail challenge. E-learning for financial advisors in a bank could inspire a mobile outreach program for cancer survivors. This variety also keeps the creative folks at NogginLabs fresh. Fresh learning ideas and designs come from a set of constantly changing constraints.

Help! I'm trying to buy training and it's the worst.


Help! I'm trying to buy training and it's the worst.

Lindsay Bland

Oh okay, so this is why buyers are so weird.

Let me back up. I’m actually in the process of buying some training. At NogginLabs, a big part of my job involves working directly with folks that are going through the process of buying custom e-learning from us. And now, here I am, trying to buy some training. And the process is honestly kind of the worst. Twist!

When I adopted my new pup, Zeke (see adorable photo above), part of the adoption process involves agreeing to take a training class with your new dog, which involves putting down a training deposit. I write the dog rescue organization a check and then I have three months to complete a training class, or else they cash my check. Most classes are once a week for six weeks. So that’s what I’m working with.

Sure, I need training for my newly adopted dog and not an entire workforce, but still. I see the complex buyer light now. I’m having all the same confusing buyer thoughts that folks have when purchasing e-learning. So naturally I’m going to work it out publicly right here in this blog.


Here’s the place my mind went to first. I already have a place I go to for all my dog-related needs, from doggy daycare to dog grooming to dog treats. Let’s call it City Dog. I’ve been going there for years with my late dog, Dez, and now with Zeke. The people there know me, it’s local (a block from my office), they support causes I care about, they took great care of Dez when he went there, and it’s a legit one-stop-shop for everything I need.

So naturally, they are who I turned to first when I found out I needed to get Zeke trained. I’ve never taken a class there, and not surprisingly, their classes are expensive.And I’m not familiar with dog training classes. Is this class worth that much money? What if Zeke doesn’t know anything after six weeks of class? Maybe I should shop around at some of the more affordable chain stores.


What I mean to say is there are definitely cheaper options out there. The list of approved training providers the rescue gave me was extensive, and it included introductory training classes at a big box store, let’s call it PetCompany (good, right?) The classes at PetCom were significantly cheaper than my local pet provider at nearly half the cost.

But there are red flags beyond price. PetCom is farther from my house, they sell some questionable (read: not great for your pets or factory workers) products, and I wondered how “expert” their trainers were. Plus, I don’t know them at all. What kind of experience do their trainers even have? This made me question both City Dog and PetCom classes: what exactly am I getting for my money?


Comparing costs and trying to suss out what exactly I’m getting for my money led me down the DIY rabbit hole. Because by far the cheapest option is to not buy any training at all. Yes, I would be out the initial deposit check I gave the rescue, so it wouldn’t exactly cost nothing, but it would still be way cheaper than paying a professional. Plus, the internet is a thing, right? I can just read some Dog Whisperer blogs and watch some Youtube videos and train Zeke myself. I’m relatively smart and obviously patient enough to own a rescue dog, so how hard can it really be? I do want my dog trained, but I don’t really need to pay a professional for that, right?


For me, it’s not just about checking a box. I really do want my dog trained. So from where I sit, I have three options:

  • City Dog, my local pet product/daycare shop (most expensive option)
  • PetCompany big-box store (half the cost of the local store)
  • DIY internet training (free, but will be out my initial deposit)

Guys, I get it! I finally get why folks issue Requests for Proposals. If I could issue an RFP and put these dog trainers a thorough vetting process, I could guarantee that I would end up with the best option. I could ask all about their methodologies, capabilities, request bios of everyone I’ll interact with, ask about their success rates with other dogs.

I could even use a secret rating matrix to objectively evaluate them and determine who is the best. I could ask them to describe, in detail, how they would creatively train my specific dog and solve all his behavioral issues. Maybe even have them present in person and demonstrate some of their training with Zeke. Heck, I could openly pit them against each other to win my business, asking each to lower their rates until I find the trainer that is willing to give me the best deal.

But alas, most buyers of nearly everything on the planet can’t issue RFPs. So how can I decide? It’s clearly not just about cost. I actually really do want to change my dog’s behavior. I want to invest in training that will work, guaranteed. Gulp.*

*Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog post, wherein I bite the bullet and make an actual decision!