It's amazing how much can be accomplished in jour four to six weeks in a well run group dog training class. The handlers learn from each other and the dogs have a real handle on all the basics they need to progress to more advanced classes and happy, peaceful lives. Bringing together a small group of dogs and owners gives each team the chance to work amongst distractions and learn together. The handlers can support one ano0ther and observe handling skills by watching the leash in another's hands.
Both ends of the leash learn to listen, respond, redirect and distract when necessary. Both ends of the leash learn how the other expressed frustration or boredom or excitement.
The dogs may start out nervous and wary of each other. The owners often are nervous and worried they won't do well. Several weeks later the dogs have settled down and learned how to learn and the owners have learned how their particular dog learns. Not all dogs learn the same way.
Working in a small group with the distractions of other dogs and people, new smells and sounds, make classes so much more productive. And fun!
The key is finding the right group class. Begin with a trainer whose training methods dovetail with your vision of how you want to relate to your dog. Ask these question:
- What method is their expertise?
- What equipment do they promote (choke, prong, electronic collars, metal leashes etc.)
- How long have they been training?
- Do they train dogs for any specific purpose such as animal therapy work?
- Are they licensed / certified?
- How large are the classes?
- Can you make up a class if you miss one?
- Are they familiar with your particular breed or set of issues?
- Will they simply teach "commands" of how to relate to your animal in all circumstances?
- Do they follow a set pattern each week or customize to what each dog / handler needs to learn?
- Do they choose the dogs and handlers to put together in a class or just let people sign up?
- Do they ask you any questions before putting you in a class about your routines at home?
Visit the training facility and see if it is clean, has no odor, separated from dogs not in class, large enough for the class size offered and a pleasant space to work.
Ask to observe a class. Seeing how a trainer teaches and how the students respond, both two-and four-legged, tells you a lot about the class.
Then decide for yourself which method and trainer you want to pursue. Then go for it and keep learning together!