They are not the right thing for everyone or every dog no. I’m a firm believer in picking and choosing what is right for you and your canine companion. Just because you think you should take your dog to classes or someone has told you should, does this mean that it will help? Not necessarily!
Many clients contact me saying they want help with their dogs to teach them how to come when called when off lead or how to walk on lead, they have been to classes and they are still struggling. Loose lead walking and recall training are the two most common things that dog owners struggle with as they are things that are expected of their dog each and every day and things that dogs don’t find easy to learn.
If you go to well-run classes the instructor will make it clear that without practice at home and on walks each day the things they are teaching are not going to help them if they only practice them in that village hall or venue that the classes are held in. They should give you advice on how to put what they teach into practice in the real world. It’s very easy for a dog to learn how to behave in one place, when you take them each week and practice those things there, but I imagine you are not planning on only taking your dog to classes and nowhere else for the rest of its life. This may seem obvious to some of you but to most this point is often missed, without practice your dog is getting to practice all the wrong things between each practice making the problems harder to work on in the long run.
The third most common issue I get asked to help with is barking and lunging at other dogs when their dog is on lead. Attending classes may help the dog get used to the other dogs in class but that does not make them any better out on walks with strange dogs. We should be teaching our dog skills on how to cope with other dogs on walks and you learning how to help them be calmer and have more trust in you that whatever they are faced with you will sort it for them so they do not have to resort to making decisions for themselves such as barking, growling and lunging.
How do you choose the best class for you?
Go and watch a class without your dog or interrogate the trainer of their experience & qualifications (particularly their experience with your breed or mix of) and what kind of methods they use. Reward based methods are the correct answer!
Badly run classes can really harm your dog’s learning and development. Smaller classes are better. Larger classes maybe cheaper but how much direct and one to one help are you getting for the time you are there? If your dog is simply sat waiting in line till its theirs and your turn for most of the class then what is it learning or you learning? How to be patient or how to get frustrated? Usually it’s the latter in these types of classes. Your time is valuable, particularly when you have likely had a long day at work, so invest your time and money wisely.
Dog training classes should be about giving you the skills to take away and practice and implement in the real world creating a well rounded and easy dog to walk and live with.
Just because we have taught a dog how to do something in one place really doesn’t mean they will just know to do the same thing wherever they go. We have to teach them and practice with them in lots of different places and situations before they are able to do it wherever they go.
We are pleased to announce that our new classes at Twyford will be starting September which will be centred around your needs and wants for your dogs, not a set curriculum or criteria that isn’t suitable for what you want for your dog, nor with stressful tests which do not help you or your hound. We are offering many levels of awards for progression and acknowledgement of improvement, if you would like to register your interest for these small and limited availability sessions please email us –firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also offering monthly subscription packages to allow you to choose the level of help you need.