Training your dog keeps them safe, teaches them good manners in public, and strengthens your relationship, which is why many pet parents enroll their dogs in obedience classes. But do these classes really work? Can all dogs take obedience classes, or are they just for puppies? And how in the world do you find the right trainer for your pooch? Today, we’re answering your most-asked questions around obedience training – so sit, stay, and read on!
Are Obedience Classes Effective?
That depends on how dedicated you are as a pet parent. While high-quality obedience classes give you the skills to effectively train your furry friend, you’ll typically only attend weekly classes for 6-10 weeks. One hour of training each week won’t drastically change your dog’s behavior, so it’s up to you to practice skills with your dog between sessions.
It’s also important to make sure the entire household has consistent rules and expectations. For example, say you’re training your dog to not jump onto the couch. If another member of your family encourages Fido to come up and snuggle, your dog will become confused and unsure of the rules. To get the most out of obedience classes, make sure your entire household is committed to consistent rules and daily practice sessions.
Can All Dogs Take Obedience Classes?
Obedience classes are a popular choice for puppies, and courses created for young dogs focus on helping them learn basic skills, like walking on a leash, becoming potty trained, and learning a few foundational commands, like “sit,’ “stay,” and “come.” Early obedience classes help socialize your new pup, too, so they’ll be better equipped to interact with humans and other dogs.
Many pet owners take their puppies to some sort of obedience class, but training isn’t just for puppies! If you’ve adopted an older dog, or just want to teach your dog some new skills, sign up for an adult dog training course. These courses help dogs learn good manners, like greeting visitors, heeling while on-leash, and more advanced commands. If you’re planning on taking your adult dog to an obedience class, remember to be patient and give your dog time. Depending on their age, they’ll need to unlearn behaviors they’ve done for years, or even a decade. While your dog can still learn new things, breaking strong habits won’t happen overnight.
Group Obedience Classes vs. Individual Training
Group classes are a popular choice for many families because they give your dog the opportunity to socialize with other animals. Plus, with the distraction of so many new friends in the room, you’ll get the chance to practice “distracted training” with your dog. “Distracted training” refers to practicing skills in a distracting environment, which is more difficult than practicing in an isolated environment. However, distracted training closely resembles the real world, which can provide long-term benefits; if you can train your dog to come to you when you’re surrounded by other dogs and their owners, your dog is likely to repeat the same behavior when they’re at a busy dog park.
On the other hand, individual training classes could be ideal for your dog if you want a more individualized approach. Instead of splitting their time between several dogs, individual trainers will be completely focused on you and your dog. One-on-one training can also be a good choice if your dog has specific medical issues or advanced problem behavior.
How To Choose An Obedience Class
Whether you choose group obedience classes or one-on-one training, it’s important to do your research before choosing a class. Before committing to a certain class or trainer, follow these steps:
- Check Qualifications: Dog training is an unregulated industry, which means just about anyone can create a website or print off business cards claiming they’re a dog trainer. Dig into the trainer’s background and experience, and see if they have any certifications from a reputable organization, like The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, The Academy for Dog Trainers, or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Also look for trainers who use positive reinforcement.
- Ask For References: Research online reviews or ask for references.
- Sit In On A Class: If possible, ask to observe a class or two before signing up. Use this as an opportunity to ensure the trainer will use humane methods and positive reinforcement.
- Look Out For Red Flags: Avoid trainers who yell, scream, hit, or use harmful or inhumane methods.
Take your time to find the right class and instructor for you and your pup, and be consistent after your training begins. In time, you’ll teach your dog important safety and socialization skills, as well as deepen the bond between you.