Should You Take Your Dog To Training Class or Train On Your Own?

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Dogs of every age, size, and breed benefit from training. What is the best and most effective way to train a dog? The answer is going to depend on your dog, and what you are trying to teach.

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When it comes to training your dog there are a variety of options. This includes group classes, individual coaching with a trainer, or training on your own. Any training should be fun and engaging — since this will be done throughout your dog's life.

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Deciding what type of training is right for your dog

Ultimately, the most important thing is for your dog to be trained. When deciding on which training is best, there are some considerations to keep in mind. First, you should consider your dog's temperament. Then, consider what you want to teach your dog. This could be skills such as basic obedience, behavioral modification, or sports training. Other specialized training such as therapy dog certification can also be taught through training sessions.

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Keep in mind your budget as well, as quality training isn't always cheap. If you are looking at classes, check and see how their schedule lines up with your own. You may also want to consider the location of where the classes are offered and how easy it will be for you to attend them.

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Benefits of dog training classes

When people think about training their dog, they often think of group classes — and with good reason. Group classes are an ideal way for pet parents to get started with training their dog or puppy. They allow your dog to learn to focus around the distractions of other dogs and people. This is very helpful because it replicates the kinds of distractions that your dog will experience while out on walks in the world. Another benefit of group classes is the potential to form meet other dog owners in your area who may have dogs of similar age.

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A great way for young puppies to learn about the world around them is also through a group glass setting. Even if you know how to teach your dog the basics, young puppies can still benefit from puppy classes. They are designed to help with socialization. Puppy training supports new puppies to make positive associations with the world around them.

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Group classes can also be helpful to train your dog for certain sports like Rally and Agility. A class can help them get used to practicing around other dogs and people — which they may need to be comfortable with if they compete in the future.

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Solo training benefits

There are two types of solo training, one is going DIY and doing the training yourself utilizing online tutorials or books. Basic obedience cues, kennel training, and other introductory skills can be taught at home. However, solo training doesn't have to mean going it alone. Many professional dog trainers will offer individualized training opportunities. Individualized coaching for you and your dog can be more expensive than signing up for a training class. On the other hand, training on your own is budget-friendly.

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One challenge to keep in mind with solo training is that it can be more challenging to provide your dog with real-world distractions as you train. As a result, you'll have to find dog-friendly locations to bring your dog to train as they get more experienced. Solo training can be ideal for starting to work with nervous or shy dogs and people who can be overwhelmed in a classroom environment.

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Finding the right dog trainer

Dogs should always be trained using positive reinforcement methods, not with aversive tools or techniques. Beyond that, dog training isn't a one-size-fits. Some dogs come alive and thrive in group classes. Other dogs shut down and struggle to reach a point where the energy of group classes feels comfortable for them.

If you aren't sure where to start or are feeling frustrated trying to homeschool your dog, it's a good idea to contact a trainer. Talk with an experienced dog trainer about what your training goals are. Discuss your dog's personality with them. They will be able to guide you about what is best for you and your dog: a group class or private lessons. A trainer may ask you to schedule an individual session so they can assess your dog's temperament and existing skills in person before making a recommendation.

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Obedience training and behavioral modification

General obedience training is often taught in training sessions. It's also possible to work on basic cues at home yourself. Though working with a trainer either in a group class or in private lessons can be especially helpful to understand your dog's behavior and can help you bond with your dog.

If you're struggling to support your dog with behavioral issues (particularly overarousal, reactivity, or aggression) then it's best to start with individual training. This can help keep everyone safe and support your dog to stay under the threshold. In other words, keeping them at a distance from triggers where they can still learn and focus.

In summary

There are a variety of options for how to train your dog. This includes group classes, individual coaching with a trainer, or going DIY dog training. The option you choose will depend on your dog's needs and your preferences. Training should be fun since it's something your dog engages with at all stages of their life. It's also important to find the right trainer. Look for a trainer who is utilizing positive reinforcement training methods. Find someone that has experience in the training you are looking for — whether it's a behavioral issue or exploring a new sport.

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