The benefits of group training classes
GASP! A group of people, did we say? What in the world is one of those?
As life in Lockdown grinds slowly and painfully to a (hopeful) end, K9 Anytime Group Training Classes are making a return as the Rule of 6 comes into action form April 2021. Well loved by K9 Anytimers back in pre-COVID life, there are many reasons to consider the benefits of including your pup in a group training course. April classes are all fully booked, look out for June classes coming soon on our Facebook Events page.
Even if your dog is well versed in their behaviours and training, has a good grasp of the basics and beyond, consider their strengths in different environments. One of the most common complaints we hear from dog parents is that their dog behaves impeccably at home, recalls every time without a battle, walks beautifully on the lead... until another dog comes along. The power of distraction is a real test for even some of the most advanced dogs, as it is rare they find themselves in a situation where they have to retain focus, put their training to proper use and demonstrate their skills in front of other dogs doing the same. Remember, until your dog can do what it is you're asking them in front of an audience, in a variety of environments and under a variety of circumstances, then they can't truly do that behaviour! Consider a group training class to "level up" your dog's behaviour around distractions.
Group training classes are not a competition. There is no Best in Class and there is no mark out of 10 at the end. Group training classes at K9 Anytime are a strictly no judgement, no pressure and no comparison zone, and we are all on a learning journey together. It can be immensely encouraging to connect with other parents facing the same difficulties and seeking the same solutions, and you can find that someone raises a question you hadn't considered, or approaches something in a way that is eye opening for your own situation. You may even be that someone for others!
As well as a challenge for our dogs, group training classes are a journey for us, too! There is so much to learn about our dogs and their training that it really is a life long process, and working together with our dogs to strengthen our bond, improve our communication and work in harmony with one another is one of the greatest things we can do in our role as dog parents. Similarly, being able to stay composed, focused and undistracted by others in our class can prove as big a challenge for us as it does for our dogs, and is a great exercise in staying control and making a success of every situation we find ourselves in alongside them.
Your dog's behaviour is down to you. It is unequivocally unfair to bemoan and berate your dog and their behaviour if you do not provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Training is for humans first, dogs second. Dogs do not arrive on this planet pre programmed with behaviours they "should" know. If you haven't taught it to them (and we mean taught them properly and effectively), they will not know it, and cannot be expected to do it. Simple! Let's look at 2 scenarios; EXHIBIT A:
Dog & Human go on walk. Dog sees other dog. Dog is excited. Dog pulls and barks and jumps and lunges at other dog to say hi. Human is embarrassed. Human pulls back on lead. Human shouts NO. STOP. Human pulls back on lead. Dog pulls forward on lead. Dog wants to say hi. Human pulls back on lead. Human shouts. Human & Dog pass other dog on lead and Dog jumps all over other dog. Human pulls dog away and keeps walking. RESULT:
Human is annoyed that Dog doesn't do what they want. Human was dragged round block and got home in a worse mood than when they set off. Fail!
Dog got what they wanted by pulling and barking and lunging. Dog says 10/10 would recommend pulling on lead to friends. Will repeat next time. Success!
Dog & Human go on walk. Human knows Dog can get excited and over stimulated when they see other dogs. Human leaves house prepared. Dog & Human have practiced focus and impulse control sequences at home and around varying degrees of distraction on their walks. Human sees other Dog approaching. Human asks for Dog's attention and to complete their impulse control sequence. Dog knows this game. Dog pauses, engages with human and patiently and calmly registers other dog's arrival. Human praises Dog and rewards them with permission to politely greet other dog. Dog makes new friend. Human & Dog continue on walk. RESULT:
Human is home, relaxed from a break of fresh air with lovely friend Dog. Both shoulders in tact and no joints out of place. Success!
Dog is home, satisfied from a fun and fulfilling walk. Extra tired from practicing skills with Human and extra happy for making them proud. Bonus fun marks for making new friend. Success! A dog who knows what is being asked of them, who is living in harmony with their family and who is communicated with clearly, consistently and fairly is a happy dog. Join us in K9 Anytime Group Training Classes this summer!