Training your dog keeps them safe, teaches them good manners in public, and strengthens your relationship. This is why many pet parents enroll their dogs in training classes. But do these classes really work? Can all dogs take classes, or are they just for puppies? What kind of dog training equipment (collars, harnesses, leashes) will I need? And how in the world do you find the right trainer for your pooch?
Today, we’re answering your most-asked questions about dog training – so sit, stay, and read on!
Will I be able to train my dog?
This depends on how dedicated you are as a pet parent. While high-quality training classes give you the skills to effectively train your furry friend, you’ll typically only attend weekly classes for 6-10 weeks. One hour of training each week won’t drastically change your dog’s behavior. It’s up to you to practice skills with your dog between sessions.
It’s also important to make sure the entire household has consistent rules and expectations. For example, say you’re training your dog to not jump onto the couch. If another member of your family encourages the dog to come up your dog will become unsure of the rules. To get the most out of classes, make sure your entire household is committed to consistent rules and daily practice sessions.
Can Every Dog be Trained?
Dog Training classes are a popular choice for puppies. Courses created for young dogs tend to focus on helping them learn basic skills. These skills include polite leash walking, potty training, and understanding foundational commands, like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Early classes help socialize your new pup, too. This will make them better equipped to interact with both humans and other dogs they meet.
Many pet owners take their puppies to some sort of training or socialization class, but training isn’t just for puppies. If you’ve adopted an older dog, or just want to teach your old dog some new tricks, sign up for an adult dog training course. These courses help dogs learn good leash and social manners and more advanced commands. If you’re planning on taking your adult dog to class for the first time, remember to be patient. Depending on their age, they’ll need to unlearn behaviors they’ve done for years. Keep in mind that, while your dog can still learn new things, breaking old habits won’t happen overnight.
Group Classes vs. Individual Training
Group classes are a popular choice for many families. These classes give your dog the opportunity to socialize with other animals. Plus, with the distraction of so many new friends in the room, you’ll get the chance to practice “distracted training” with your dog. “Distracted training” refers to practicing skills in a distracting environment, which is more difficult than practicing in an isolated environment. However, distracted training closely resembles the real world, which can provide long-term benefits. If you can train your dog to come to you when you’re surrounded by other dogs and their owners, your dog is likely to repeat the same behavior when they’re at a busy dog park.
On the other hand, individual training classes could be ideal for your dog if you want a more individualized approach. Instead of splitting their time between several dogs, individual trainers will be completely focused on you and your dog. One-on-one training can also be a good choice if your dog has specific medical issues or advanced problem behavior.
How To Choose The Right Class
Whether you choose group classes or one-on-one training, it’s important to do your research before choosing a class. Before committing to a certain class or trainer, follow these steps:
- Check Qualifications: Dog training is an unregulated industry, which means just about anyone can create a website or print off business cards claiming they’re a dog trainer. Dig into the trainer’s background and experience, and see if they have any certifications from reputable organizations, like The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Animal Behavior College, or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. (we recommend R+ or "Force Free" dog trainers)
- Ask For References: Research online reviews or ask for references.
- Sit In On A Class: If possible, ask to observe a class or two before signing up. Use this as an opportunity to ensure the trainer will use humane methods, positive reinforcement, and energy that will fit with your dog.
Look Out For Red Flags: Avoid trainers who yell, scream, hit, or use harmful or inhumane methods. Look for trainers who use positive reinforcement and work to build trust with your pup. Pay attention to the equipment that the trainer uses, we don't recommend using a trainer who recommends choke chains, prong collars, or electronic collars at all.
Take your time to find the right class and instructor for you and your pup. Remain consistent after your training begins. In time, you’ll teach your dog important safety and socialization skills, as well as deepen your bond with one another. Don't forget to shop our collection of Freedom No-Pull Harnesses to get a jump on your training endeavors.