Group Obedience Training

Group training involves you taking your dog to a place where there are four to 20 other like-minded people and their dogs. At this location, a trainer will teach everyone how to train their pets. In most basic classes, commands are taught entirely while the dog is on a leash. Basic commands are usually sit, stay, come, down, heel and loose leash walking. Aside from obedience, simple problem-solving instructions to help owners address jumping, chewing, digging and housebreaking are usually included.

FYI, "heel" means the dog walks directly at your left side with his front legs even with yours while remaining completely focused on you at all times, regardless of distractions. In the old days, a lot of time was spent teaching this command. The only problem with "heel" is that most people only need their dogs to walk in this way maybe 5 to 20 percent of the time—for example, when you're on a walk and you approach another dog or when you're walking in a crowded area. Over the last decade or so, a more relaxed form of walking your dog, often called "loose leash walking," has become popular. When you hear this term, understand it means you can walk your dog on your left side without expecting total focus or perfect body placement (unlike heeling). The dog can relax and enjoy the walk, as long as he doesn't pull you.

Some classes have more than one trainer, thus ensuring a lower trainer-to-student ratio. Some classes are indoors and others are outdoors.

Group class training is usually the least expensive. Many class programs are purchased as a series, for example, seven weeks, once a week, for $89. A few programs offer the option of paying for sessions as you go, for example, $7 per lesson. I have seen classes where students were expected to come twice a week. One nationally offered program features a "lifetime" membership where owners can take their dogs back for refresher training as often as they like.

The thing to remember about group obedience training is that it is really owner training. You are being trained how to train your dog. For some owners, this might seem somewhat odd. You might ask, "If I'm taking my dog to class so that she learns to sit, why am I the one being trained?" The answer is that in group class, the trainer often will not have the time to individually train each and every dog. And even if the trainer did have the time to begin teaching your dog in class, the dog will need consistent reinforcement throughout the upcoming week. Who's going to do that? The answer is—you!

Besides, you need to ask yourself whether you want a dog who listens to the trainer or a dog who listens to you. Remember, dogs are social animals, meaning they will interact with each person who interacts with them, based on what that individual does or doesn't do. To put it another way, if you take your dog to class each week and, during that class, a trainer using proper training techniques consistently shows your dog what they want the dog to do, your dog will quickly learn to respond to the trainer. If, during the week, you consistently teach your dog not to listen by using the wrong techniques, the end result will be a dog who doesn't listen to you.

The advantages of group obedience training are:

How To Train Your Puppy

How To Train Your Puppy

Getting a new puppy is a fun and interesting time. You probably went to a breeder or pet store or maybe just saw an ad on the Internet or the newspaper, for puppies, and decided just to check it out. Before you knew it those little eyes and fluffy puppy fur had your heart melting and you were headed home with him or her in your arms. If you are like most new pet owners you had visions of playing fetch with your dog, of watching him frolic at the lake, and of cuddling up on cold nights.

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