Are group classes for my dog the right fit?

This is always a question I am asked and honestly there really is only one answer, yes. Now, I will say I am not a trainer who believes group classes like they have set up at certain places, which we shall not name [you know who they are]. Those types of classes are not beneficial for long term success. However, group classes can be very helpful after both the owner and dog get everything they need on an individual basis. One must learn to crawl, then walk, then run.

Training owners and their dogs needs to be looked at like they are the only family in the world and what may work for them, may not work for others. When we begin a training program, we need to assess needs, wants, age and ability by both the owner and the dog[s]. Once that is done we can then set up a program that fits their needs specifically, with their understanding that things may change based on how they or their dog is learning. This can include the tools that are used, the commands that are taught or the methods of how to teach their dog[s] the skills they want them to learn and maintain long term.

After each person and dog has a clear understanding of how, when and where to say commands, use tools and clearly and properly reward and discipline then that is the time to move on to a group class setting. Muscle memory and repetition are the best ways to succeed in group classes, but one can only have those when they practice and make mistakes, learn and move on from them independently of others.

Group classes are wonderful in helping build confidence, social skills and adding a layer of distraction for the dog’s training. However, too large of a group class can also hinder success, so it is recommended that there are no more than 6 dogs at a time. It is also important to begin group classes in a controlled environment, like an air conditioned building with dogs that are both beginners and ones that are more advanced. This way, different skill levels and activity levels can help each other out by observing and engaging with one another. Also, making sure a professional trainer is actively involved to help handle any dogs that may need it or answer any questions as they arise.

So, if you are thinking group classes are the best option for you then, wonderful, but please remember there are many factors to consider when deciding on how and when to begin them. If you have any questions after reading this, please feel free to contact us, so we can help you make the best decision for you, your family and your dog. We look forward to hearing from you.

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