Taking a group class with your dog is a very important activity. Your dog will not only learning new skills, but he/she will be practicing those skills in the presence of other dogs and people. The act of going to class, getting ready for class, loading into the car, taking a ride, walking into a new space, being around other people and dogs is all a part of socialization. We cap our group classes at 6 dogs for a number of reasons:
- We want dogs and handlers to be successful!
- You and your dog get the feedback you need during practice.
- Your dog has enough space to feel comfortable.
- Individualized attention.
- Noise is kept at a minimum which is helpful for shy or reactive dogs.
- Time for questions and discussion about lessons.
Here are some things you can do to get the most out of your group class:
- Attend as many of the sessions as you can. We realize that things come up, and you may have to miss a class. But as much as possible, you should attend the majority of the sessions. Our group classes are a cumulative curriculum, which means you and the other students start roughly on the same page (though there are always different/individual skill levels), and each week, we build on the lessons from the week before. You will be with the same students each week, so there’s no confusion for you or your dog as to who will be in your class.
- Practice several times a week in between lessons. Practice doesn’t need to be long! In fact, shorter sessions are best for your dog’s optimal learning! “TAKE FIVE” – that’s 5 minutes a day to review and practice a skill. Maybe the next day, pick a different skill to practice. This is much more effective than trying to cram and run through all of the exercises in one sitting.
- Come prepared! I find it helpful to have a tote bag with all of my dog’s training gear: treats, treat pouch, clicker, water dish, bottle of water, toys, additional collars or leashes. I often have a variety of treats because I have dogs with different preferences. I like to use soft, easy to break apart treats. For young dogs or dogs new to training, I like to make sure I have several ‘high value’ options – these can include string cheese, bits of deli meat, duck jerky, etc.