Once you’ve decided on a trainer that will meet the needs of you and your dog, you’ll begin classes. The first time that the training class is held, it should be without dogs. This will give the dog owner and over-all picture of what he is expected to accomplish during the weeks that follow. This way, the meeting is without the distractions of untrained dogs. Imagine the chaos that could ensure with a large group of untrained dogs and nervous owners! The trainer will be able to communicate with the dog owners expectations of the class, explain the format and give some insight into the routine of each class. The meeting will be more productive in a quiet meeting where problems can be discussed and the various steps demonstrated on what to do to curb those problems.
This is also a good time for the trainer to talk about what exercises need to be done at home in order to continue to condition the dog into better obedience. The owner needs to know that consistency throughout the dog’s day – and not only when in class – is what will bring about the desired results.
The beginner’s group of a dog training class will most often be divided into two parts: one group who is interacting with their dogs, another group who is sitting nearby to watch and learn. You can gain a lot of knowledge just by watching how another person’s response makes their pet act! Sometimes you might learn what NOT to do; and this is valuable information as well.
The basic format of an effective dog training class would go something like this: one dog owner would pose a question or concern; then the trainer would demonstrate the basic steps with two or three untrained dogs in the class. So that the group can see a comparison, it would then be followed by a short exhibition with dogs that are already trained. It will be great to see how quickly results may be achieved.
A question-and-answer session will benefit the entire class, as usually one person’s concern is relevant to the problem that other members of the group might have. A good instructor will clearly repeat the question, then give his answer so that everyone in the class can hear and thus learn. Having this Q&A time will lead to informative discussion sessions, and will avoid time-consuming repetitions of a subject.
Some other basics to be covered this first meeting are: reminding owners not to feed their dogs for several hours before the class, making sure the dog has had proper exercise before coming to class. This eliminates the need for excessive pooper-scooping during the class, and allows for pets to be less hyper active. Participants should be told what to expect the following week when they arrive with their dogs. They should be shown the basics of how to stop excessive barking by keeping the dog on a short controlled leash, as well as what to do if a fight between dogs occurs.