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Tuesday Training Byte: Getting the most out of classes

Some people prefer to train at home and feel competent enough to do it themselves. While this may be true, there are benefits to taking your dog to a class. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the class.

  1. Practice between classes. Classes generally meet once a week. This is not sufficient for a dog to really grasp the concepts or the owner to understand how to cue the dog. If you set aside time three days per week to work on a couple of skills for up to 10 minutes, you will be surprised at how quickly your dog catches on. Another helpful exercise is to practice your movements and commands without your dog. If it helps, put a collar and leash on a small stuffed animal to do this. Your consistency with body language, commands, and timing for praise can help set the dog up for success. When I teach a rally obedience class, I will hold the client's dog while they do a walk through of the course first. It is as much about teaching the owner just what to do so they can effectively teach their dog.

  2. Second, try to strike up a friendship or network with others in the class. Maybe even arrange a time to get together between classes or call to see how their training is going or to clarify the instructor's comments from the previous week.

  3. Take time to write down a couple of questions as you think of them and ask the instructor at the beginning of your next class. Because classes generally run for about an hour, that is a very long time to ask a dog to focus. I take little breaks during the class to answer questions while their dog's just relax for a bit. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification or for the instructor to demonstrate training a skill.

  4. Lastly, there is a wide variety of dog sports you can engage with you dog in. Taking a class can help better prepare you for that. Many instructor's can share information and resources if you are interested. Happy training!

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