Why and When You Should Take a Dog Obedience Class
I love dog obedience.
It’s true! I suppose that shouldn’t shock you; considering what I do and get paid for everyday!
And, I have recently moved to Maryland and now that I live in more of a suburban city environment I have an opportunity to once again teach dog obedience classes.
I have to admit, although I didn’t think I missed it, I missed it!
I love teaching obedience classes.
But it is much different that the opportunities I have to teach people here on the internet.
Here, I am able to give you the advice to take your time and build a strong foundation.
In my Companion Dog Course, I work a lot on getting the dogs to give eye contact and focus for flawless obedience and great leash skills.
But, truthfully in class, I can’t devote several weeks to one skill.
People want to come in and work toward the basics sit, down, stay, heel, come, and place. Plus they want to curb behavior problems like barking, and jumping up and sometimes potty training!
I admit I try and lay lots of focus on attention and focus, but I also have a class to run and expectations to meet.
Why You Should Train at Home
First off, before you EVER consider taking a class you need to do your work at home! Our free articles and our products will help you achieve a superb level of obedience if you devote your time and effort into it!
Plus you can make it fun and work on your own terms.
For instance, say I am working on better eye contact and focus and perfect heel position. When my dog is staring up and me and is in the most flawless location next to my left leg and I am working alone (not in a classroom situation) I can mark her with a click and a YESSS and then toss her toy.
Tossing her toy is the highest level of jack pot I can give her! She LOVES playing a little game of fetch!
This solidifies her “perfect position and behavior” and must be marked the moment she achieves the goal, not before and not after, otherwise she doesn’t learn.
However, it is not feasible for all of the clients in my classes to suddenly chuck a ball past everyone else and their dogs and then let their dog run off to chase it. This scenario would cause mass hysteria and anarchy in a dog obedience class!
Yet, this is what your dog needs in order to learn the EXACT moment he did what you wanted him to do!
As much as I try, as a dog obedience instructor, to watch each team and make sure that they are using the right rewards at the right time… I am not super human. I can only structure the class for the group as a whole!
And as much as I would like to offer a 6 week class on getting flawless eye contact… I am not sure there would be many that would sign up for that class (until my reputation gets out at least).
The best obedience happens at home, with an enthusiastic dog and consistent and enthusiastic owner!
And the best dog owners and handlers understand that once they achieve great obedience at home, they need to begin slowly adding more distractions.
For help with obedience click here or on this picture
This is When I Take an Obedience Class
That is right! I said it!
I, a professional dog trainer for over 20 years, often take a dog obedience class with my own dogs!
Do I need someone to teach me and my dog heel?
Do I need someone to teach me to teach my dog to sit?
No! No I have those things under control.
But, I do need controllable distractions!
You see, obedience classes offer structure.
Dogs are on leash, people are at least trying to be in control (let’s admit most people don’t completely obedience train their dogs PRIOR to taking a class; but they should.)
Back when I wasn’t teaching classes I would take my dog both inside and outside a dog park to train. It was the best way to get ready for competition. I did also take a class with her!
I never tell my instructor that I am an obedience trainer; because I want them to look at me with helpful and discerning eyes and not just assume I don’t want or need help.
One of my favorite people in the dog world, was once very harsh and honest about my obedience skills. Where everyone else told me I was infallible, he showed me my short comings (he was a judge). I could never thank him enough for his honesty. Instead of blowing sunshine, he wanted to see me do better (even when my worst was better than most).
A good instructor can help even the most seasoned professional.
Just take the time to find a “GOOD” instructor. Not one that has little experience, and not one that uses harsh techniques but someone who is kind, ethical, knowledgeable, and who is willing to work with you.
Get Into a Class
So find a well-known, highly reputable training facility and stop by and watch some classes.
Once you watch the instructor work with the dogs and individuals you can catch them after a class and discuss your dog training goals.
I am fairly certain that 99.9% of us professional dog trainers would relish the idea of having a dog that already knows his basic obedience skills take a class for proofing and working around distractions!
After all, why not take every opportunity to further the relationship between you, your family, and your dog!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.