Dog Training Classes: Everything You Need to Know


There is no truth in the old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Dogs of all ages can be trained. They can learn new behaviors and skills that can be useful in their everyday lives and their owners’ as well.

Some dogs learn fast, while some may take longer, but all dogs are trainable. Dogs are intelligent animals, and they are known for their desire to please their owners. When you train your dog, you are also creating a strong bond between the two of you.

Taking Your Dog to Training Class

Taking dog training classes is not required, although it has lots of benefits for the dog and the owner. You can opt to enroll your dog or not, it is you who will decide.

Training classes benefit dogs of all ages. Puppies are more commonly seen in training classes because we all know that they are like sponges – they quickly absorb things that are taught to them. Older dogs are enrolled in training classes mostly because their owners want them to learn a specific behavior or wish to eliminate an undesirable behavior that they have.

If you have adopted an older dog, you can consider enrolling them for a basic training class. The trainer will identify any issues with behavior and address them early on. You are also able to strengthen your bond with your pooch and help them to achieve great things.

Some classes are exclusive only for puppies so they can socialize with other dogs of similar temperament and size, of course, under careful supervision. Several training facilities provide separate beginner courses for older dogs.

There are classes for every level of obedience. It is recommended that you plan ahead and sign up early if you are expecting a new puppy at home. One major mistake of dog owners is signing up for dog training classes only when their dog is already showing bad behaviors. Remember that it is easier to teach a dog to do positive behavior than to stop them from doing a negative one.

Dog training classes don’t only benefit the dogs. It can also help owners to improve their training skills. It can teach you to communicate with your dog better. The trainer will also guide you with the basic and advanced stages of training your dog.

Choosing the Right Training School

First, you have to ask these questions for you to determine if the training school you have chosen is right for you and your dog:

  • Do they have appropriate credentials?

Ask them if they are Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). Some trainers opt to pass up this training but have years of dog training experience. Before signing up, you have to get to know them

  • When was the training school established, and how long have they been operating?

Choose one that has a least two years of experience.

  • Are they a great fit for you?

Are their staff professional and have a good rapport with you?

  • Is sitting in on a class with your dog allowed?

If they allow it, observe the methods they are using. Notice if they are calm or yelling and whether the dogs and their owners look happy.

Choosing the Right Trainer and Class

Several dog owners have no idea where to begin in terms of searching for a great trainer for their dog. It can be a cumbersome task for some who had never experienced finding a trainer before.

When you are choosing a trainer, there will be several factors you should consider. You can get recommendations from your friends and other people you trust and know about the trainer’s experience. When you find a trainer that fits your needs, you can attend their class so observe their methods and if you are comfortable with them. If everything goes well, you can sign up for the next class.

Knowledge and Experience

You can ask about how long the trainer has been training dogs, their education, certifications, and continuing education. Several trainers are affiliated with different dog training and behavior associations. You can also ask if they are familiar with the CGCP (Canine Good Citizen Program). If you want your pooch to become a Canine Good Citizen, you can also ask the trainer if they are qualified as an evaluator.

Pick a trainer who is capable of training dogs that exceed what you’d like to do with your pooch. Observe the behavior of the trainer’s dogs. If they are not under control, barking, or jumping on people, the trainer probably is not capable of training your dog well.

You should have an idea of what you want for your dog, whether you want a field dog, a well-mannered dog, a dog that can be shown in the obedience ring, or a dog that does search and rescue work. The training process will be much easier when you find a trainer that meets or even exceeds your expectations.

Reputation

You can ask your veterinarian, animal shelters nearby, or friends if they know a dog trainer that they can recommend. You can also talk to people who have dogs that underwent obedience classes. An excellent trainer will likely be popular and a good reputation in the area.

Communication Skills

Trainers should have the ability to communicate well with dogs and their owners. Observe if the trainer is comfortable around dogs, and the dogs are comfortable around him or her. Ask questions and see if the trainer uses terms that you understand. It won’t do you or your dog any good if you are not able to understand what you should do. It can also be helpful if the trainer provides handouts you can study.

Class Structure

The structure and size of the class are essential considerations. Trainers who hold smaller class sizes are able to give more individual attention to the dogs. Check out if the facility has enough room for all dogs and owners to participate in all activities. Choose a trainer that allows family members to attend their dog’s classes. You may also want to check what are the required vaccines and make sure that your dog is up to date.

Methods

Find another trainer if you don’t like their methods or if you are not comfortable asking questions. There are all sorts of training methods, and trainers will stick to the method that is most comfortable for them. Your dog may respond to a technique very well and not respond to another. Choose a trainer that uses positive reinforcement for desirable behavior.

The dogs and people in the class should enjoy it. Observe if the trainer really likes working with dogs and people. They should also be at ease around dogs.

Most Common Types of Dog Classes

The type of class you sign up for will depend on what you expect for the training.

Puppy Classes

This type of class is for puppies around two to five months old. Socialization is one of the main objectives of this class. Other topics covered are chewing, housebreaking, digging, barking, and biting. The owner will be taught how they can teach their dogs. The basics that are included in this class are sitting, walking on a leash, coming, and more.

Several owners don’t feel the need to enroll their puppy to classes because they believe they know how to train them, they have other dogs in the house for socialization, or that they have trained other dogs. However, the controlled social situation in classes is very different from a home setting because the puppy is exposed to new dogs, people, and places. Classes aren’t just for teaching puppies to respond to commands, but it is about responding to commands while there are distractions. The socialization of puppies two to four months old at dog classes cannot be replicated at home.

Basic Obedience Classes

This type of class is for dogs older than five months. The things they learn in puppy classes are reinforced and continue to include sit, heel, stay, come, and down. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a program called Canine Good Citizen (CGC) that is designed to give rewards to dogs that are well-mannered at home and in their community. For dogs to graduate from basic obedience classes, they need to pass the CGC test. Don’t worry if your dog is not registered with the AKC, for it is not required for them to pass the CGC.

There are also advanced obedience classes that work on finesse and response time. If you plan to show your dog in obedience competitions, it is recommended that you sign up your dog for this class.

Conformation Classes

The Westminster Kennel Club Show at Pier 92/94, February 12, 2013. New York, NY.

If you wish to show your dog in a breed ring where they are judged based on the way they move and the way they look, signing up for these classes can be very helpful.

Therapy Dog Training

There is a volunteer group named Therapy Dog International (TDI), which is organized to provide excellent and qualified handlers and their Service dogs to visit facilities, institutions, and other places where they need therapy dogs. The aim is to offer companionship and comfort by sharing the dog with patients in nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities. The dog doesn’t need to be registered with the AKC to participate.

Agility Classes

This type of class will teach your dog how to under, over, and through different obstacles. If you want to have fun with your dog, this is the class you should sign up for. It’s like taking them to the playground. This is also the class to join if you plan to compete your dog in agility trials.

Sporting and Field Dog Classes

Most areas in the country have different training groups available for owners who desire to teach their dogs how to perform fieldwork. Groups typically focus on one kind of field event, like pointing or retrieving.

Search and Rescue (SAR)

Owners who are interested in teaching their dogs to perform search and rescue usually join a SAR group in their area. The group is composed of volunteers and trains dogs to find and search for missing people, dead or alive. You can have your dog trained in different training levels, including searching in the water from a boat, in woods, and in buildings that have been damaged from earthquakes or terrorist attacks.

Benefits of Dog Training Classes

Having your dog trained by professional trainers in dog training classes provides lots of benefits.

Your dog will learn to socialize with other dogs and people.

A group class is the best setting if you wish to work on your dog’s basic manners or give them the opportunity to socialize and interact with other dogs. It is an excellent environment for your dog to meet other dogs and play with them, especially for puppies. Puppies are at the age where socialization is vital.

When an owner fails to socialize their dog properly, it may lead to skittish tendencies and aggression issues toward other dogs.

You are able to meet other dog owners.

Dog owners are able to share stories and learn something from each other. They can also help motivate each other during classes.

Your dog will be able to learn around others.

When you’re in a dog training class, there will be plenty of in-built distractions from the presence of other dogs and humans. Your dog will be able to learn the discipline about when to play and when to learn.

Your dog is able to learn several new commands and skills.

Dog training classes cover several topics, that is why your dog will have the ability to learn new skills. As a result, you will find it easier to control your dog at home and in public. It will also make your bond with your pooch more.

You will be aware of other training issues.

During a group class, there will be chances to ask questions to the trainer. Take this opportunity to learn; it would be a great experience for you. By listening to the trainer’s answers, you will gain the knowledge to solve issues in the future when it comes to your dog.

It would be safer for your dog.

It is very important that your dog is safe, and you, as the owner is responsible for it. When your dog listens to your commands, you can prevent them from experiencing dangerous conflicts with other dogs or animals, harming themselves in risky situations, or running into the road with fast vehicles.

It allows you to establish a lasting relationship with your dog.

The system of training will develop an essential connection between you and your dog. As you create boundaries, spend time together, learn to understand each other, and share experiences, mutual respect will be established. Your dog will then trust you and respect your judgment. You will also gain admiration for their capabilities and potential.

It would be safer for your home

When your dog is trained, it is guaranteed that your home is treated with the utmost respect. When you instill manners in your dog, they will learn the difference between desirable and undesirable behavior in your home. Your dog will also behave with courtesy to all members of the family. You will save a lot of money on home repairs, that’s for sure. You will never find your dog chewing on your antique furniture.

It would be easier to take your dog out

I’m sure you’ve seen situations wherein the dog is taking its owner for a walk, not the other way around. Training your dog builds their confidence around other people and animals. You will notice that walking your dog outside is an enjoyable experience for the two of you. Your dog can interact effectively and safely with others.

It would be easier for the vet to examine and work with your dog.

Veterinarians are not invincible, and they can’t risk their safety when attempting to examine a dog that reacts violently. Owners who neglect desensitizing their dogs to being worked on or touched can risk dental disease, overgrown nails, untreated wounds that can turn into infections, and progression of a certain disease that could’ve been prevented if treated early.

Dog owners can help each other.

When you understand how to train your dog, you will have that knowledge and skill forever. When you have mastered training your dog, you can then share the knowledge you possess with other dog owners. You can go as far as starting a career to be a trainer.

You can make connections with other dog owners in the community. They can support you when you are having issues with your dog, provide company for play dates or walks, and even exchange services like dog sitting. Your dog will have new friends and so will you.

You and your dog will have happier lives.

Having a well-behaved dog will make you less worried about them displaying undesirable behavior. Because your dog is trained, you will never be afraid if they would jump on your visitors or chew on your furniture. After the training, keep in mind that you still have to spend ample time with your dog.

You are able to learn things other than training.

Dog training classes are not only designed to train dogs, they include training for dog owners as well. You will learn about deworming, feeding, tick/flea prevention, food education, and more. The information you are going to learn in invaluable, especially when done in a balanced way.

Dog training classes are cost-effective.

If you want your dog to learn the basics, a group puppy class is much more affordable than getting a private trainer to train your dog at home. It will also teach your dog about socialization because they are interacting with other dogs and owners in every class session.

Your dog can learn to focus more.

If your puppy gets excited about other dogs, enrolling them in a dog training class could be an excellent way to temper the enthusiasm. Because of this, your dog is able to concentrate more on other things and are not overstimulated by other dogs. Dog training classes teach dogs that when is the right time to work and to play.

It can get your shy dog comfortable around other dogs.

A dog training class can be helpful if your dog is a little shy. It is a great way to start because your dog won’t feel the pressure of all the attention. You are working with other dogs and owners in close proximity, and it can somewhat help in developing confidence for your shy dog. If your dog is timid and fearful, start with a private training first, then more up to a training class when the dog is ready.

Common Behavior Dog Issues That Can Be Addressed with Training

Digging

Digging is one of the most common behavior problems with dogs. It is also a natural instinct for them that is why you cannot instantly fix the issue. You must understand the reason why your dog is digging so you can start resolving the problem.

Here are some of the reasons why dogs dig.

  • They do it to get your attention or out of boredom. In this case, your pooch needs more playtime and exercise.
  • They may be hunting burrowing prey. In this case, you should deal with the prey.
  • They dig because of the cooler dirt below. They also dig to hide from rain or wind. In this case, you can decrease your dog’s time spent outside. You can bring them somewhere cooler.
  • They dig because they want to escape under fences. In this case, you should block off their access to the fences, or you can also reinforce the ground under the fence.

When you figure out the reason why your dog is digging, you can now address it appropriately. You can do positive reinforcement.

Unruliness and Hyperactivity

The most common reason why a dog is too unruly, hyperactive, and energetic is that they are bored and there is a lack of stimulation. Different dogs have different levels of activity, depending on their size, breed, upbringing, and age. Some of them will release their extra energy one way or another regardless of the situation or location.

You have to give your dog enough exercise. They should have enough walking, training, playing, and running daily. Do not give in as well. You should avoid encouraging your dog with his sudden energy outbursts. Completely ignore them for a while.

Constant Biting

There are several reasons why your dog constantly bites. It is mostly because of their instinct to living in packs. Puppies bite everything as a means of exploration, learning about the place, and understanding the environment.

Socialization and regular training can fix this problem. You can enroll your dog in training classes so they can socialize with other dogs and humans. You can also expose your dog to all sorts of settings, new things, and places. If you see your dog being uncomfortable, address it immediately, and try to switch it around. Constant supervision can help break the habit.

Jumping on People

Have you ever noticed that when dogs meet other dogs, they sniff each other’s faces? This is one way to greet one another. They want to do the same thing to humans; however, our faces are inconveniently located higher than they can reach; that is why they tend to jump on us.

If you want to resolve the issue, you have to ignore your dog until they stop attempting to jump up at you. Never shout or push them away; these actions will only excite your dog more and encourage them to jump. When your dog’s feet are already on the ground, you can start petting them. This way, your dog will learn that when they stop jumping at you, they will receive the reward, which is you petting them.

Barking

Dogs bark for several different reasons. Some reasons are actually useful for the owner. For instance, your dog barking when they see a stranger approaching your home.

However, you may want to address your dog’s barking if it has become excessive. You have to establish first situations that make them bark and teach them to appropriately handle those situations. For instance, when someone is at the door, and your dog is barking, you can teach them to bark just a few times, and them wait quietly to see who is outside.

Related Question

How much do dog training classes cost?

The average cost is $30 to $80 per class. Dog obedience schools charge around $200 to $600 per week. Boot camp kennel is around $500 to $1,250 per week. Training a dog for therapy, protection, and support purposes are about $120 per hour.

Final Thoughts

Through dog training classes, your dog can learn all sorts of skills. These facilities provide various styles of training, and for sure there is one that perfectly fits your preference. Dogs love to please their owners. Well-behaved dogs really do make an owner’s life easier, as well.

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