SDTC Classes & Lessons
^^^ This has a list of training locations in your area, I think...
My thoughts/questions when looking for a training location...
1. What is the highest level class offered by the location
- Even if you do not plan on continued dog training after CGC level, it's still helpful if a training location offers regular competition level classes in rally, regular obedience, agility, and whatever else. Why? Because they will do a better job at teaching pups for long term results. They want to get you hooked on training so you will be a long term student who enjoys training your dog.
Locations where they are just shuffling dogs in for early socialization and organized playtime, they are more likely to bring out the harnesses and other controlling devices because if the owners and dogs get stuck using those devices on a permanent basis, it's not their problem.
Other thing though is if you are interested in continuing classes, you can work your way up through the levels at the location - and with a well trained dog who already knows all the foundation skills he needs for those higher levels.
Training at home is very important! But you still need guidance and direction that comes from attending classes once a week. People training alone or at home get "blind" to their mistakes. And their dogs simply learn how to excel at a very low degree of distraction (at home).
2. What is the experience level of the trainer?
- I don't give a darn about education, believe it or not. A lot of young people are trying to take college courses in dog training because they believe this is all they need to get a job in dog training. But understanding dogs comes from working with dogs. It comes from working with a variety of dogs. And it's not stuff you can learn online.
^ I took a handling class yesterday and another today. And both days I was working on different issues. Yesterday it was figuring out leashwork with a dog so he wasn't looking up at me or gaiting with his head too high. Today it was problem solving him being spooked by a bull terrier. Both times the gal teaching the classes knew how to handle and teach me how to handle. This is experience. It's not handling problems by avoidance or by correction even. Neither situation would have been helped by correction. Nor would they have been helped by rewards. Handling skills are learned by hands on experience. This is what you get when you take classes from somebody who learned how to work with dogs by working with MANY dogs.
3. What is the facility like?
- this is of lesser importance, but truly - I generally like taking classes in clean places that are similar to where we would compete.
I watched a youtube video not long ago and it was so bizarre. These were classes given in a garage type place and I can't describe how unlikely the setup was and how it was pointless and I could only imagine it being MISERABLE for people taking the classes.
When I clicked on the Enzo's training pages and saw what the fido walk thing was like - that picture on instagram was pretty similar to what I saw with that youtube video - except it was outside and the dogs were not in a dimly lit garage and climbing over or weaving around obstacles when not waiting in line (and I mean a 2x2 line).
With a good facility, I'd like a lot of space to work my dog - especially if it's group class. I'd like room to keep a bubble around my dog. I'd also like room to MOVE out with my dog.
Ages ago, I took classes with somebody who always separated the large dogs from the little dogs. Little dogs worked in a smaller ring in the center while the larger dogs worked in a big ring on the outside of that smaller ring. <= This was ideal, because little dogs are not going to move out. And if you are in a group class with a big dog, it's miserable taking half steps because there's a little dog waddling in front of you! LOL.
4. Descriptions of training - positive only or pressure based or ?
- Sometimes when a location advertises that they are positive only, I think that's nice... but... sometimes those trainers can be pretty depressing and negative to train with. I've trained with (meaning we take classes together) various people who follow different methods and ideas for training. And there's 1-2 people who advertise as positive only, but ohgosh. I'd hate taking classes from them. It's taking dog training and making it super difficult when you can take a more direct and simpler route to teaching something. I take lessons from somebody who is primarily positive handling and I enjoy those classes. Another person I had no idea she was positive only until I was chatting with her. She's somebody who is very pleasant and low-key and has fun with her dogs. She doesn't make dog training a chore for herself or for them - and does take simpler routes to teaching them. Her dogs all wear buckle collars for training - it was something I never noticed because she doesn't make a big deal about it. Taking classes form her would be very pleasant I think.
Any training location with K9 in the name or clear signs of being "that" type of training (police dog based, lot of corrections and heavy handed, etc) - I avoid like the plague.
Pressure training - this is the first time I've heard that tag and probably depends on what exactly they mean by pressure. If this is "sit means sit" type training... that would be a huge and rapid skip for me. I never "force" my dogs to do something. And I don't handle my dogs roughly.
Balanced trainer - is a tag that's used by a variety of trainers. I would use it myself, but balanced for me means 99% positive only and 1% corrections. I do know of people out there who call themselves balanced trainers, but they use ecollars on their dogs in obedience - and they are out there zapping the dogs to force them to do stuff and they are pinching and twisting dog ears to again force them to do stuff. That's a kind of thing that makes me cringe (and a lot of other people as well).
^ My point is tags are not helpful as sitting and watching classes and seeing what goes on. Watching different people and learning their different training styles means more than a simplistic tag that they might use to describe their training style.