Why I don’t hold group classes

As you probably know from my website www.courteousk9.com.  I train one-on-one in my clients environment.  I do this because I believe people and their pets deserve as much of my attention during a training session as they can get.  In short, I think it is a better bang for their buck.  Also, it allows for greater communication between the owners and myself.  I found that in group classes some clients were too shy to ask questions.  Others had questions they thought they would ask later and then, for whatever reason, didn’t.  I also like the fact that I can observe closely what is going on with the dog physically and emotionally.  At the same time I can closely observe how the owner and dog interact.  The smallest adjustment in the owner’s behavior can make all the difference in the dog’s learning experience.  For example, if you are new to using a clicker as a training tool, timing is absolutely critical.  With one-on-one training I can make sure the subtleties are clearly covered.

Dogs don’t generalize their knowledge.  During group classes clients would comment that Fido would learn a command during the group class but when they would go home the dog couldn’t repeat the behavior.  This frustrated them, the dog and the training process.  Puppies especially need to be taught a specific behavior/command in many different places – inside, outside, at the playground, etc.  During that process they learn that sit means sit whenever and wherever they are.  Once you know and understand that the whole training process takes on a different perspective.  The dog is not a dummy nor is he “just being stubborn” and you are not a bad or inept trainer.  Whew!

Group classes are often recommended to encourage and enable socialization of the dogs.  This is not always the case.  It may be a good opportunity for puppies but for dogs that are reactive, new to training or if owners are new to training, interaction between dogs can be unnerving, and contribute to everyone’s stress level.  There are other ways to socialize our pets.  Let’s get the owners comfortable with the process, build confidence in their ability to train and handle behavior situations first.  I believe the benefits of private training sessions out weigh any benefit of group classes.

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