How to choose a dog training club
When picking a dog training club, look for one that is registered with a national
body. i.e. The Kennel Club, “D.O.G Local”, ADTB or APDT etc.
This is not to say that an unregistered club will not be as good but it is a
good place to start. Personal recommendation is also a good way but ask some
of the questions listed below – get that persons experience.
Ring the trainer up. How do they sound on the phone? If you don’t like them after
a phone consultation you may not like them in person.
There are a number of questions to ask. Some are included below.
- How long have they been running classes / training dogs?
- What is their experience with your breed? (their personal opinion is also valid)
- Ask what methods they employ. If you have a preference for reward based
training only – say so! Their response will tell you more about them.
- What is the ratio of dogs to instructor?
- Do they have assistants?
- Tell them the problems you are having –again listen to the response
and any advice.
- How much does it cost?
- Do you have to pay for a course in advance?
- Can you come and observe a lesson? If not, WHY not?
would they like you to bring with you? A vaccination certificate should
be asked for, some have a booking form you will need to complete and return.
They should also suggest treats, toys, a comfortable lead for you to hold
and a muzzle if your dog has aggression issues.
- Do they have progress
tests? Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme or other
- Do they insist on
you buying any equipment from them? i.e. training leads / clickers.
- Is there any equipment that they specially recommend you buy?
- Is there
- Dates / times and location of classes?
- Are the classes
indoors or outdoors?
If you like the sound of them on the phone you can go for a visit.
Don’t take your dog initially, you need to concentrate on observing.
So don’t take children with you for the same reason.
Watch the class that your dog will be in (and others if you want),
some trainers will structure puppy or advanced classes differently from intermediate.
- How does the instructor introduce an exercise?
- Does it make sense to you?
- Does the rest of the class look happy with the explanation?
- How are any questions dealt with?
- Is the class scared to speak up?
- Is the instructor polite and respectful?
- Humorous observations or the occasional raised voice are fine.
- But… Put yourself in the place of the students – would you be happy being spoken to in that manner?
- Is the class stressed – there should always be a little tension when people are concentrating but
overall the atmosphere should be positive.
- How are any problems dealt with? Is the dog corrected – by which I mean prompted to do the correct behaviour?
Is the owner happy with how the problem is handled?
- Does the instructor handle any of the dogs in the class?
Would you be happy with them handling your dog in that way?
At the end of the class talk with the instructor quietly, if there was
anything you didn’t understand – say so! They may have been stricter
with certain dogs if asked by the owner (in pet obedience a slightly
off-centre sit is fine – if that dog was being trained to competition
standard it isn’t). If you have any concerns – ask! A good trainer will
not mind explaining their methods.
If at any point you are not happy walk away! If you are stressed the dog
will not work and such training will not benefit either of you.
Same with the phone call – if you don’t like it don’t go.
Phone several clubs before you make your choice, you can also
visit several or visit more than once if you want. The cheapest
is not always the best – the same is true for the expensive ones.
Every dog and handler team is different, what suits one will not suit another.
If you feel an affinity for them or really comfortable in the club then you
know you have made a good choice.
During the lessons if you are unhappy
discuss it with the instructor – if you are really unhappy feel free to
walk out or not go back! The important thing is that you are happy;
if you are dreading the next session it is obviously not right for you.