How to find a dog trainer to suit you and your dog
As an Assured Breeder, registered with and inspected by the Kennel Club, I am required to provide advice to all my new puppy owners. This puppy pack includes a few basic training tips, such as ‘let your puppy off lead on the first walk!‘
The Puppy Pack also includes advice about finding a suitable trainer for you and your puppy to attend. Before this year, my advice related to going along to classes in person. Now we have to consider alternatives, but I am going to talk about both options.
A trained dog is a happy dog
House training aside, every puppy needs to be taught good manners and have constructive lessons in basic control and social interaction. This includes:
- Responding to its name
- Learning how to greet and behave politely around other people and dogs
- To come back when called (see my posts on recall for details)
- To walk nicely on the lead
- To sit down and stay on command
- To allow itself to be groomed and examined by you and your vet
Dog training classes
Most if not all owners can benefit from attending good training classes, and training in the company of other dogs is very useful, because of the realistic distractions it involves. Ideally, you should start your classes as soon as your puppy’s vaccinations are complete, but classes can be invaluable for older dogs too.
There are various different styles of dog training and it is naturally important that you find a class and training instructors with the right approach for you and your puppy. You can find training classes by using the Kennel Club’s Find a Club service. You can also ask your vet and other dog owners for recommendations, or see my recommendation below. Dog training can be lots of fun and very rewarding.
A trained dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog makes for a happy owner too.
Finding the best dog training club
Before enrolling with a dog training club it can be beneficial to go and visit several classes first (without your puppy) to make sure you have made the right choice. Things you may wish to consider include:
- Do you like what you see – are the trainers friendly, are people happy and enjoying training their dogs?
- Are the dogs happily focused on their human family?
- Are the instructors giving lots of encouragement and information to all attendees?
- Are the instructors maintaining a controlled, safe environment for all?
- Are instructors treating everyone fairly and meeting the needs of the whole group?
Some of these points still apply to online classes, but let’s consider these in more detail.
Online or In-person?
Since before the pandemic, dog trainers have realised that some elements of dog training can be done online. During the first Lockdown, we all had to adapt and good trainers have been able to transfer the majority of their training to be done remotely.
A good online dog trainer, will provide a range of tuition methods:
- Live video calls to a small group, covering the topic for that week’s lesson
- Use of a ‘demo dog’ to show how to carry out the instructions and reward the dog
- The opportunity to watch the recording of the class later, for revision or if the live class has been missed
- The chance to post videos of your own training to a private group
- A way of asking questions and receiving feedback
There are pros and cons to both types of classes, in my view.
It is easier to attend an online class, especially if you can watch a recording later on. No travelling or parking issues. Very useful if your dog is not yet good at travelling.
You might feel that an online class will make it harder to ‘show off’ your dog’s training and discuss the issues you are having. I believe this is not the case. It is much better to watch the trainer’s explanations and demonstrations without your puppy messing around/ barking at other dogs/ weeing on the floor. Honestly, it can be really hard to manage your puppy whilst sitting in a draughty hall. Much better to sit calmly at home, paying attention to the lesson. Then go away and practice, in your own time.
Once you’ve mastered the lesson, or if you are having problems with it, posting a video showing where you’re at is a great way for your trainer to see what is happening. What might seem confusing and tricky to you will soon be sorted by your trainer. I highly recommend Adam Delderfield at Delders Dogs for expert online training.
Group interaction is so useful
One of the nice things about going along to an in-person class is meeting other puppy owners. You can show off your baby! It is lovely comparing notes and hearing that they are going through all the crap (literally) that you are going through.
But this can be done easily through a private social media group. These days we are pretty adept at communicating in this way. My Sweetie Litter were the first to have their own WhatsApp group and they talk to each other most days, even after 18 months! We are currently discussing neutering and relationships with our vets 🙂
Practice makes perfect
Whomever you go to for training, just going, engaging and practising the lessons will make your dog better. Building your relationship with your dog is the key element of the training sessions and the value of this cannot be over-emphasised. Please go and please practise and please, please put in the effort to train your dog? Your dog will thank you 🙂
For specific help with behaviour issues, I very much recommend a specialist such as Dan Callaghan at MK Dog Behaviour and Training.
I also recommend Nicole Vento from the The Calm Canine Academy. Please visit the website to find out more about their training methods and the services they offer. When you book training with any of these people, please mention me? Thanks!
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