How Group Obedience Classes Work and why it may not be best for your dog:
Dog obedience classes are an integral part of dog training. Group classes have been around in the U.S. for the last 50-60 years and maybe even longer! While the methods have changed the structure of training dogs in a group class have remained the same.
A normal group class structure is 1 trainer to 10-12 students with their dogs. The instructor demonstrates commands and how they are taught and then they show each person individually how to execute the commands with their dog and then give homework.
A class will normally be anywhere from 6-12 weeks long, normally on the same day and at same time every week. Then the trainer would normally have a progression of obedience classes to move the client into once started. For example: Puppy Class, Beginner Obedience, Intermediate Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Dog Tricks, Agility Obedience, Rally Obedience, etc.
How one of these classes would work is as following:
Puppy Class: 5 Week Course – Every Saturday 1:00pm — Cost $100
Beginner Obedience: 5 Week Course – Every Monday 2:00pm – Cost $100
Same time, same day every week.
Let’s explore how the Beginner Obedience class works and what are the problems and advantages to this type of class!
- Most people signed up for dog training because they don’t know how to train their dog and/or their dog needs help. If there are 10 people in class and the class lasts 60 minutes that means you get roughly 6 minutes of 1 on 1 time with the instructor IF class works out evenly.
- If you only get 6 minutes of instructor time for 5 weeks that’s only 30 minutes of 1 on 1. If you paid $100 for 30 minutes of 1-1 that means you are actually paying that instructor $200 an hour!!!!!! You better get some darn good results for $200 an hour!!!
- 6 minutes of 1 on 1 time is in a class full of other dogs so you and your dog might be paying attention or might not when this 6 minutes of crucial (and expensive) 1 on 1 time is happening…
- In this structure if you miss a class you would have to pay for a private lesson to make up the lesson or start over again next time while the class moves on without you.
- It is cheap!! You only paid $100 for class!!
- If you are super smart and your dog is super smart you can probably watch and listen to the instructor and then do everything by yourself at home! (if you and your dog are this smart please email us about becoming a potential future dog trainer!)
So most people sign up for dog training because they have either behavioral problems with their dog or have expectations of awesomeness for their dog! But neither fixing behavioral problems nor creating awesomeness is normally accomplished without any 1 on 1 with a professional dog trainer and 6 minutes of 1 on 1 a week is definitely not going to do it.
Would this model work with teaching a child piano or teaching swim classes or teaching children to ride a bicycle?? NO WAY!!!! So why would it work for dog training!!!!
Answer: IT DOESN’T!!! I mean except for sometimes when your dog is super smart and doesn’t have any behavioral issues and you already know what you are doing .
Just like to learn piano you need some 1 on 1 time with the instructor almost all dogs and people also need some 1 on 1 time with the instructor.
Dog training has two aspects:
- Training the dog
- Training the human
Group class only focuses more on just the training of the dog aspect; private lessons really give us more time to train the humans!! And let us tell you! The humans normally need some training!!!
So then do I really NEED a group class? Or is private lessons just enough??
Here at Tip Top K9 we normally do 1 on 1 first in the form of private lessons to really teach the dog what to do 1st, then teach you (the humans) what to do 2nd, and then give you homework to do to bring clarity to the dog. Then once the dog really knows what to do we add in heavy distractions in the form of group class. This tends to get the best results out of the dogs!
Group obedience class is good for your dog. Every dog needs to learn how to listen with other dogs around as distraction. For most dogs their biggest distraction is going to be another dog. When most dogs see other dogs they want to pull or jump or run scared or be aggressive or do anything but act like a normal, well trained dog!
If you never train around other dogs and then think your puppy will be fully obedient around other dogs when he or she does see them you are sorely mistaken…
You must train with other distractions and teach your dogs how to listen with other dogs before you run into the random stray dog on your daily walk or before you walk him into a pet store on adoption day. Because if he hasn’t been trained to listen around other dogs then it is going to be a disaster and you’ll wonder why Rover won’t listen…. Well…. Rover won’t listen because he has never worked around that much distraction!!! He doesn’t know how to tune it out and focus on you!!
How do we train?? How do we add group classes in??
We teach with 3 phases:
- Teaching Phase – 1st phase is to teach the dog what the command means and what is expected of him from each command
- Practice Phase – 2nd phase we make sure that we have done enough repetitions that the dog is absolutely clear on the command and what is expected of him and has done 100s or 1000s of repetitions and knows what to do when told
- Proofing Phase – 3rd phase is we proof the dog around distractions, we teach the dog he still has to execute the command that he’s clear on regardless of the distractions around! This is where we make sure the dog still does commands with other dogs, children, balls, food on the ground etc.
If you taught a child piano you would:
- Teach them the notes
- Teach them to play music and give lots of practice at home
- Put them in a recital in front of people
This is the same with dog training.
If you skip either of the 1st two phases then the 3rd phase is impossible and you and your dog are set up for failure. If you do the 1st two phases but never take your dog to new places and work around tons of distraction then he will never be proofed!!
Group class is good and needed but it is not always best to start off with. Most people and most dogs need 1-1 privates first and then they need to use a group obedience class to teach their dog to listen around distractions.
We do FREE demonstrations where one of our trainers come out and work with you and your dog for free and recommend a plan to get you where you want to go.
Give us call a today and let us show you what made us the top ranked dog trainer in the state of Oklahoma and what led to us getting the best of Tulsa 3 years in a row!!