How To Choose A Good Puppy Training School by Stephen G King © 2014

The time you invest in finding a good dog puppy training school will pay off with a well-behaved and easy to get along with dog. Puppy training gives the skills the puppy needs to have a wonderful and enjoyable life. It’s a fact that a well-behaved dog is less likely to end up in a rescue/shelter or be given up for adoption. He is also less likely to exhibit signs of aggression.

But how do you train your puppy if you don’t have the experience? You have several options…

You can buy a dog-training book or a video and try to train your dog on your own. This approach may work, but it will not be easy, since each puppy is unique and some techniques may not work with your pet.

If you want to train your puppy by yourself, make sure the training book or a video that you use comes from a reliable source.

The best approach is to enrol your puppy in a positive puppy training class or school. This is more expensive than trying to train him on your own but, especially for a new puppy owner, offers a lot of advantages.

Enrol in the one you think is most suitable, even if you have to wait for a while to get a place on a course or have to travel a distance to get to it – it will be worth it!

NB: If your dog is shy or already aggressive with people or dogs, it is imperative that you seek advice and arrange individual tuition with a good positive dog trainer who will help you deal with the problem behaviour and get it fixed early enough to start the Puppy training classes before he is 16 weeks old.

A serious consideration in your decision should be the methods of training used by the puppy training classes; you should look for trainers who believe in kind, positive methods of training. Dog trainers, who encourage the use of choke chains or any kind of rough handling, should be avoided at all costs.

There are professional associations, regulating some dog training schools, so you may prefer to choose a puppy or dog training class that is regulated by one of these associations.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers was founded in 1995 by John Fisher to offer pet dog owners a guarantee of quality when looking for a puppy or dog training class in their area.

All members of the APDT have been assessed according to a strict code of practice and have agreed to abide by kind and fair principles of training. To this end the use of coercive or punitive techniques and equipment are not used.

As one of the founding members of the APDT we apply all the rules appertaining to a positive outcome.

Check out the credentials, accreditation and experience of the trainers. Also it’s important that trainers continue to learn and further their skills, in the APDT that is part of our membership to continue to learn through reading books and most importantly going to lectures and workshops to increase and keep up to date with positive methods. Most important when choosing a dog trainer is that you determine if they have a genuine love of dogs and enthusiasm for the task at hand. Are they training dogs because they love the species or are they just going through the motions like its some 9 to 5 dead end job?

Go and have a look at a few classes before making your decision. Most dog training schools will welcome this and even expect it of their potential clients. Make note of the equipment used in classes, the class sizes, general atmosphere (should be fun!), cleanliness and safety.

Check out the success stories, testimonials and references of the dog training schools you are considering. Do they have happy and satisfied clients?? A great source of information and feedback can be unearthed by speaking with your Vet, your dog groomer or talking with dog lovers at dog shows or your local dog park.

Check that the schools take vaccinations seriously – especially if you are going to a puppy training class. You should be asked for proof that your dog has been properly vaccinated.

Can you get one on one support if needed? This may be important to you and your puppy at some stage. You need to be the person training your dog but sometimes it is handy to get some individual help. Something to keep in mind is that dog training is not an intuitive process; you need to be educated how to do it by someone who is properly trained and experienced.

Other factors of less importance are the location of the school and also the price of the lessons. What you spend in terms of both time and money will be well and truly paid back by the benefits gained through puppy obedience training.

Why run courses as opposed to roll-on, roll-off classes?

We’ll the answer in short is – class dynamics. When puppies come to my courses I have a check list of what we need to teach within the time limit of FIVE weeks. We are working on a very strict time limit, especially when it comes to temperament training. For a successful puppy training course there is a lot to cover so any delays in the class could result in important exercises being dropped. As every time a new puppy comes into the class, everyone goes back a step or two as they explore and get used to the newcomers. Newcomers also slow down the progressive nature of the exercises. Many of the exercises, if not all, build upon the work done in the previous weeks, so it is unfair to hold back the majority of the class while the newcomer is taught something everyone else has learned a week or two ago. Finally, with owners constantly coming and going, it is extremely difficult for me to keep track of each puppy in order to give the best support and advice to each individual owner as they train their puppy. This is why I run FIVE week courses allowing enough time to build a relationship with the puppy and owner to give the best advice. To find out more about our Puppy Training course follow this link.

Here is a list of things to look for

* Positive training methods for training puppies/dogs and humans, using clickers/ praise, food treats and games with toys

* Training is effective for both people and puppies/dogs so that all are learning and progressing

* Calm, ordered class. If the class is very noisy and without order, avoid it!

* Do not go into a class with more than 6 puppies, individual tuition is very important.

* Any off-lead play is carefully managed and supervised with just a few puppies off lead for short periods of time

* People and puppies/dogs are having fun

* Puppies and adult dogs are in separate classes. Puppies under 20 weeks are kept separate from adult dogs

* Dogs within a class are all at a similar level, e.g. beginner, intermediate, advanced

* Small class sizes (6 puppies/dogs maximum per trainer/assistant)

* No stress and tension, well a little bit of stress is ok but if the class is like bedlam then avoid.

* No check chains, prong collars or electric collars

* No rough treatment of, grabbing, shaking, shouting at puppies or dogs or pinning them to the floor

* No spraying with water pistols/air sprays

* No throwing of noise makers

* No humiliation or shaming of owners

* Ask yourself ‘would my puppy/dog and I look forward to coming to this class’?

Good luck in finding a suitable dog training school for you and your puppy. Once you settle on a puppy school that you believe is a good fit then the hard work will begin! Remember that training your puppy is not something you do once a week when you go to class; it should be an ongoing process that you build upon each and every day.


Association of Pet Dog Trainers

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