Finding the Right Dog Obedience Course
By Ashley Bennett
The fall can mean back to school for kids as well as dogs. Obedience courses are great for young dogs that need to learn basic commands, manners, and socialization skills. Typically, obedience courses will teach them things like how to sit and lie down, they will learn how to interact with other dogs and people, and they will become better behaved in general.
Dogs of all ages are welcome to come, but experts recommend that dogs receive training when they are puppies, before they develop bad habits. Most dog obedience classes will meet for about one hour every week for about eight to ten weeks, depending on the program. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to finding the right dog obedience course.
Ask for Referrals
There are a lot of places that advertise dog obedience courses, but the place to start is with the people you know. This means asking for referrals from other dog lovers in your area, veterinarians, family members, or anyone else in your network. In addition to that, you can also look in your phone book or search for classes in your area online.
Check Their Credentials
Most of the better instructors will have some type of credential to show that they actually know how to properly train dogs. There are a number of credentials available for dog trainers from the National Association of Dog Obedience, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, National K-9 Dog Trainers Association, and the International Association of Canine Professionals. Look for an instructor who has a credential from an association that requires rigorous training and education.
Visit a Few Different Classes
When it comes to obedience courses, it is essential to try before you buy. Every class is run differently, depending on the instructor as well as the institution that offers it. Many obedience courses will let you sit in on a class, or they may even offer a free lesson. If they do not allow you to sit in on the class, even without your dog, then that is a sign that you should probably pass because transparency is key for you and your pet. Take that as the opportunity see what is available and find the best course for your dog because it may take some time to find the right one.
Look for Red Flags
An obedience course is not just about getting your dog to do what he is told, but to learn how to properly interact with other dogs and people too. Your dog should be able to enjoy the class and have fun too. It is never acceptable to have an instructor that encourages yelling, screaming, or hitting the dog or one that urges you to use potentially harmful devices or techniques. The class should be safe and educational for both you and your dog. Moreover, if your dog seems to be particularly uncomfortable around an instructor, then there may be a good reason. Dogs are very intuitive, so it is important that you select someone with whom your dog feels at ease.
Look for the Right Fit
The best obedience course for your dog should really be determined by the right overall fit. You should consider the price, location, quality and content of the course, and your overall impression of the instructor. References can also be helpful in terms of determining which course is right for you.
Dog obedience courses are not created equal, so it is up to you to shop around and find that right fit. Ask people you know to get a few places to start with and then narrow down the list as you visit the classes and meet the instructors. Avoid any class that sets off any red flags and check the references and credentials of the instructors. Remember, at the end of the day, the course is supposed to be a positive experience for both you and your dog.