Your dog is bouncing off the walls. Or jumping on visitors. You have a new puppy peeing on the floor. Your dog is looking a little sad after so many short walks. Your dog is growling at visitors. Barking at every dog he sees on walks. She actually runs away every time you call her. There are so many options for dog training that it can be overwhelming to decide what is best for your needs and family.
There are six main options to choose from, depending on your needs; puppy socialization class, basic manners class, private training, special activity training, board-and-train, and in-home training. With so much offered in the Columbus area, it's hard to know what is appropriate. There are at least 5 big training schools and a ton more taught out of vet clinics, groom shops, and specialty stores. You don't need to look far to find someone offering inhome training. Today we are looking at basic manners classes.
Who: This class is appropriate for puppies (either at the same time as or right after a puppy socialization class), newly adopted dogs of any age, your young dog bouncing off the walls, your senior dog needing an activity, and any dog who is not very fearful or reactive. If your challenge relates to house training, distress while you are away, aggressive behavior, or fear, contact the instructor about your dog prior to signing up, these dogs are not all suited for a basic class, and some of these problems are better addressed in private training.
What: Manners class content varies, but most include; response to name, sit or down, stay in position, come when called, polite walking, and leave it. Some also include; polite greetings, go-to-bed, a trick or two, Canine Good Citizen test prep, handling activities, and targeting. The class requires daily practice at home for your dog to learn to do these things at home and practice in other environments if you want your dog to work well in other places.
When: The sooner you sign up the better. Most classes are an hour each and last from 5-8 weeks. Sometimes the first class is without dogs so you can learn what to bring and how to get the most out of class. If you have to wait many weeks to start, you may be better off starting elsewhere. Your dog may learn inappropriate behavior in the meantime!
Why: If your dog is able to be attentive and responsive to you, he will know appropriate ways to get attention (rather than barking, jumping, pulling, barking...barking...barking..!). You will know how to get reliable and correct responses from your dog. She will be more attentive to you and more responsive. This is a great way for families to spend time with their dog. Learning new things improves the quality of life for any type of animal.
Cost: Classes can vary in cost from $15-30 per class, with most classes lasting 5-8 weeks. Cost will vary depending on location, facility, instructor qualifications and experience, and quality of instruction.
"My dog is so dumb!"
If you know what your dog loves (toys, treats, pieces of chicken or cheese) and your dog is healthy, he can learn.
"My dog is pretty good already."
Training classes can improve the quality of life for dogs. There are other ways to do this, but learning new things is a fabulous thing for all dogs. If your dog is already fairly responsive to basic cues, consider a specialty class (we'll look at this in a few days).
"My dog is too old."
As long as your dog can move without too much pain and your dog is healthy enough to enjoy food, your dog can learn. I have 12+ year old dogs learning new things every week!
"I don't want to hurt my dog. I enjoy his enthusiasm."
Training should not hurt your dog or hurt his enthusiasm. If anything, training will increase enthusiasm - in appropriate ways.
"That's a lot of money...can't I just read a book from the library?"
Sure! There are some fabulous (and some really horrible) basic training books. Look up authors like Pat Miller, Peggy Tillman, and Terry Ryan. The training methods in the book should follow the AVSAB position statement. A class will provide additional instruction, help tailor activities for you and your dog's lifestyle and needs, and provide a good social experience.
There is no excuse to not be in a basic training class, there are many quality classes and professionals within the Columbus area. Yes, there are less qualified individuals, but do a bit of research and your dog will thank you!
We'll see you tomorrow to talk about private training.