Dog training classes: what to look out for

Dog training classes can be very beneficial to you and your dog. Dog training methods are evolving all the time and it’s a good idea to keep yourself up-to-date with modern, kind and effective training techniques. Training classes are also great ways to get your dog used to obeying you when with other dogs.

Not all dog training clubs are the same. Some are excellent and some are not, so make sure you attend a training session without your dog so you can assess the quality of the training. 

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Signs the training class is modern and fair:

  • Does the trainer encourage the use of treats during training?  Learning via positive reinforcement is the best approach to dog training
  • Has the dog trainer got a number of assistants to help in the class?  It’s very important that everyone gets one on one help if they need it
  • Does the trainer put a limit on the number of dogs per class?  Try to avoid classes that contain over eight dogs, it’s impossible for a good trainer to keep an eye on everyone’s progress and advise accordingly
  • Speak to other owners attending the class.  Word of mouth is one of the best recommendations that a trainer could have
  • Does the class seem happy and relaxed? Training should always be fun!

Avoid training classes like these:

  • Does the trainer allow or recommend the use of choke chains in their classes?  Choke chains are outdated and they’ve been proven to cause skeletal and soft tissue damage.
  • Does the trainer allow, recommend or use startle equipment such as cans of stones to shake or water pistols in their classes?  There is never a need for this type of equipment in a dog training class, training should be fun and should not involve startle tactics
  • Does the trainer use any kind of force to achieve basic results? For example, do they encourage owners to push down a dog’s bottom to get the dog to sit, or pop and jerk the lead to get the dog to walk to heel?  This approach to training is outdated, cruel and unnecessary
  • Is the atmosphere loud and chaotic?  This type of environment is not ideal for a dog trying to learn something new
  • Does the trainer refer to ‘dominance’ or showing the dog ‘who’s boss’? This theory was scientifically debunked many years ago and demonstrates the trainer is not current in their approach.

A good place to start looking for a reputable dog training club is either via your local animal rehoming centre or The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (UK) or The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (UK).

If you would like some further advice, we offer a free one on one behavioural advice service with our Dog Behaviour Specialists.