Whether you are looking for a Puppy class, a Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced Obedience class, or any class or workshop, you want to know the following things:
1. Is the owner of the company a dog trainer?
There are many reasons the owner of the company should be a dog trainer. Only a trainer really knows what is important for dogs. The top priority in a large company with chain stores is to make money. Training and the welfare of your dog are not a high priority for them. Many of the trainers in these large chain stores do not have the experience you need to teach your dog more than “sit”, “down” and “stay”.
2. Does the owner of the company live in the same state?
If the owner of the company lives out of state they are not involved in the dog to dog, day to day events that are happening in their classes. Training is not their priority, and they are not able to either teach classes themselves, or be able to “drop in” on any of their trainer’s classes.
3. What type of training methods will be used in the class and private sessions?
Positive reinforcement training is best way to build the relationship with your dog while learning to speak the same language. A positive atmosphere helps your dog overcome fear of dogs, people, and other environmental distractions.
4. What education and continued education does the trainer teaching the class have?
Various certifications for dog training exist as well as degrees in Animal Behavior. Many large companies send employees to dog training school for as little as 3 weeks and then pronounce them “dog trainers”. A good thing to look for is memberships in the following associations, APDT (Association of
Professional Dog Trainers) and the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals). Continued education is the best way to stay in touch and learn what is new in the behavior world.
5. What about companies that offer “first class free”?
Didn’t your mother warn you about “first one’s free”? This means that some people will pay for 5 classes and some will pay for 6 classes (in a 6 week class). If your classes are good and your instructor is knowledgeable, you don’t need to lure people in with “1st class free”.
6. What about classes that you can join anytime (class 1, 4, 5, or 6th class)?
When new people come to class they have to go over the basics of training. This means that every week you will have a percentage of the class be “class #1” instead of moving along each week. Making an exception for one or two dogs is OK, but you don’t want to hear the same 10 to 15 minute monologue each time you go to class.
7. Prices for classes should be on their website.
If you have to call to get the price for a class, the company’s sales people get a chance to sell you more than just the class you are inquiring about.
8. When you call, can you ask to speak with the owner of the company?
Hands on owners will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have. Having a trainer with experience and a stake in the outcome of your dog is who you want to teach the class you are going to take. Having a good and positive training experience will help your dog to love training and working with you.