What to Expect When Working with a Trainer or Attending a Group Class

Once you’ve done your homework and found a trainer that you like, what happens next?

There are some preparations that will be common to both private training sessions and group classes such as:

  • You will probably be asked to complete and sign an enrollment and waiver form that includes specifying what your goals are (i.e. a well-mannered dog, competitive obedience, therapy work and so forth.)
  • You may also be required to provide proof of vaccinations for your pet.
  • Payment arrangements and fees should be reviewed in detail.

Helpful Hints for Training Sessions:

  • Have your pet wear the type of collar and leash specified by your trainer.
  • Use high-quality training treats. Typically dogs prefer soft & chewy treats over crunchy treats.
  • Wear comfortable, flat, close toed shoes. Don’t wear shoes like sandals, mules, or high heels.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you can easily move in but that don’t get in your way.
  • Make sure your pet has eliminated before class or your private session so they won’t feel the need to go during the training time.
  • You may want to forgo feeding or only feed a very light meal before training.

Group Classes

In a group setting, you will be working in the same area and possibly side-by-side with other pet owners. Class sizes can range from only a few people to ten or more. Part of the value of working in a group is that that are lots of sights and sounds to act as distractions. Your pet will learn how to focus on your directions beyond the class distractions. Don’t be embarrassed if you have difficulty at first with getting your pet’s attention. Practice will help.

Your instructor may review the entire course content on the first day and will introduce the materials to be covered at each session. You will be expected to practice what you have learned during the period before the next class as “homework.” Many instructors provide hand-outs to help you review the information covered in class.

Private Training

If you are working with a private trainer, your session may either be at the trainer’s location or at your home. Private sessions can involve providing a detailed history of the pet’s behavior, particularly if you have consulted with the trainer for a specific problem.

Your trainer should provide an “action plan” of what you will cover at each session. Written plans will help keep you on track, although the beauty of private training is that you can modify the pace of the instruction to suit your needs. Since your dog is being trained individually, the goals can be also customized for your pet.

Practice Makes Perfect

Whether you decide to train privately or in a class, make sure that you practice on your own in short daily sessions to keep your dog’s interest. Practicing what you have learned in your training sessions is extremely important and will help you and your pet make progress.

Most training sessions begin with a quick review of what was learned the prior week before moving into new material that builds upon prior learning. Make sure that you understand each exercise and task that is performed. Failing to ask questions might mean having to retrain your dog later. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about why an exercise is effective or what the logic is behind the training method. You probably aren’t the only one with the question.

Finally, you should expect that both group and private lessons will help you achieve a closer bond with your pet and will build a more confident relationship through training.