I get a lot of inquiries on why I do not recommend group classes for puppy training or behavior modification so I thought it important to share my reasons with my readers so that perhaps they too can encourage a fun and successful time training their dogs.
Training a puppy:
When you start training your puppy, you want to ensure that both you and your puppy enjoy and learn. The best way to accomplish this is to be in an environment where you have your puppy’s complete attention, where they can engage 100% with you, not be distracted by other people or dogs. This provides a “classroom” where your puppy will learn you are fun while teaching them their basic manners. When you take your puppy to a group class before they have an understanding of their foundation cues (sit, down, walking on a leash, come when called, stay, etc) you, and your puppy, will become extremely frustrated and walk away learning half of what you hoped to. Your puppy will be highly distracted by all the other puppies in the class and pay little to no attention to you. You will become frustrated that your puppy isn’t listening to you, possibly using a bit more harsh voices or leash corrections which will in turn frustrate your puppy because they don’t understand the corrections.
Behavior Modification in an adult dog:
For a lot of the same reasons listed above, private lessons are highly beneficial for addressing, and modifying, unwanted behaviors in older dogs. Private lessons allow you to practice behaviors in your own home at first before moving to a public area. Once your dog has an understanding of what their new “jobs” are, you can move to a public setting to practice and solidify the new behaviors. Until then, you need to set your dog up for success by working in controlled environments.
Don’t get me wrong, group classes have their benefits especially for young pups who need to learn valuable social skills. They are also highly effective for fine-tuning basic commands so that you can “test” your dog’s knowledge and understanding in an environment full of stimuli such as other people and dogs, loud noises, new smells, etc. I typically encourage all my Kinderpup students (puppy training) to attend a group class upon graduation so that their owners can take them into a somewhat chaotic situation to challenge their pup as well as give them the opportunity to play and socialize now that they have an understanding of their basic manners.
So if you feel your dog needs help with reactivity around other dogs, needs a little fine tuning on their stay or recall, needs to learn something new, or you just brought home a puppy, please talk with a professional trainer who offers private lessons to help you and your pup get off on the right paw. Both of you will in turn be excited to learn and conquer new personal goals with each other!
Loving Guidance, LLC