Puppy classes - what's the general opinion on these.

(14 Posts)
permaquandry Fri 09-Nov-12 15:42:09

12 week old pup, took her and family to puppy class last night. Eldest came away in tears and I'm not sure i want to use a clicker and such treat-heavy based training.

Am I being naive or am I right to think I can train her myself? We've trained her to stop biting and she's getting there with the jumping up?

D0oinMeCleanin Fri 09-Nov-12 15:50:49

Can I ask what you think is wrong with clicker training? It is now widely thought to be the most effective way to train. Plus unlike adversive or punishment based training, it is hard to get it wrong and in the unlikely event that you do get it wrong, you will not be causing your puppy any psychological damage like you could do with punishments based training.

Of course you can train yourself at home, using other methods if you like, but puppy classes are a great way to socialise your puppy.

Out of interest which training method would you prefer?

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 09-Nov-12 15:53:59

What about the class made your eldest cry? I think that is important for us to judge the classes.
All training requires reward of some kind for some dogs it is treats, for others it's a toy and for others it is praise from their owner.
Most puppies receive so much praise and love from their owners (as they should) that this is not enough for them in certain situations. Toys work really well though in often in older dogs in really high energy training such as agility and flyball where you wanted them to be fired up.
I used a mixture. For walking at heel mobile mop responded best to carry a toy enabling him to focus on the job in hand. Sit etc treats were the only way. Praise works for agility, but can never be used till end of the round otherwise this is a release for him.

What are you going to use to train the puppy?

I mean, yes you can do some basic training at home, using whatever method you think is better but I found puppy classes an excellent tool for socializing LittleDog in a more controlled way.

I am a huge fan of clicker training, it has saved my sanity with LittleDog, what part don't you like?
And why was your eldest crying? What happened?

RedwingWinter Fri 09-Nov-12 16:54:36

Since we don't know what made your eldest cry, I can't comment on that. But in general, yes it is worth going to puppy classes and clicker training is an excellent way to train.

Compared to what you might do at home, the puppy gets socialization from being at the class (because of meeting other dogs and people), and also has to work a bit harder (because those dogs and people are distractions). From your own point of view, you'll learn to do a better job of any training that you do at home in future, because you'll get useful tips and comments that will help you improve your technique (eg. the timing of the click).

Some people do grumble about using treats, but I am never really sure why. Your pup gets a nice reward for behaving well, and it benefits you too.

There was a great study conducted this year investigating whether dogs and wolves prefer to work for treats or social interaction. Treats won, for dogs with owners, shelter dogs and for wolves.

RedwingWinter Fri 09-Nov-12 18:29:48

Btw, if you want to read about the study I mentioned, google 'dogs wolves treats' and you'll find summaries of it, or the actual scientific paper is here. Of course it's only one study, but it's an interesting one.

Cuebill Fri 09-Nov-12 19:49:27

The only fully effective and kind way to train dogs is with clicker and treats. there is no "too treat heavy based training"

Clicker training is for training - you do not have to use the clicker once the dog has learnt a behaviour. However you will have found a really easy way to teach a dog to do anything once it is clicker savvy.

This is not a stealth boast but a 12 week old puppy that has been clicker trained should easily be able to sit, down, stay, wait, recall, paw, high five, spin, twist, roll over, leave it and touch, watch me etc no trouble at all. Clicker training is quick, fun and effective.

However you may have gone to a rubbish class - not normal to have clients leaving in tears sad

lab puppy this is with a pretty novice owner training him too

16 week old clicker trained puppy

look at the Kiko puppy videos and see if they help you to see the benefit of clicker training. If you have kids they usually are greaaaat at clicker training.

It is a new skill so takes a bit of getting used to (Not much) very simple click the correct behaviour and treat! But once you get it you will be hooked and the have the best trained dog around.

kikopup you tube

I can absolutely understand your reaction. When we signed our pup up for classes we thought it would be great for all the family. However both DDs hated it (too noisy) and the eldest ended up in tears. DH had to take them both out. The next week DH nearly ended up in tears; well, not literally but he got very stressed due to the noise and our pup getting very hyped up wanting to play with the other dogs. The last two weeks of the class was just me and the dog.

This was a good, well-controlled class by the way that was recommended by our vet. Only seven dogs and very friendly.

Having said all that, I did find it useful. I picked up training tips I wouldn't have got from anywhere else. I didn't continue to use the clicker after the classes however as I just didn't get on with it and she was very trainable without. We do still treat train though (she's 6 months now) and it works well.

But group training classes won't be something we'll be signing up for again! grin

LoveDogs Fri 09-Nov-12 22:02:12

We tried clicker training with our puppy and it just didn't work for her, when we did treat based rewards at home for commands it worked, however going to the park and doing recall, etc she wasn't interested in treats, she much preferred being told she was a "good girl" and get lots of fuss.

We didn't go to classes with her as we had taken Ddog 1 and she hated it, we didn't take Ddog 2 either, all 3 Ddogs have all turned out perfectly fine.
I think it all depends on the dog and what works best for them tbh.

Blistory Fri 09-Nov-12 22:25:13

We got expelled from puppy classes. Totally the wrong environment for my excitable stubborn pup at the time. And the treat heavy methods took me months to wean her off. Next time, I'd prefer to look more closely at the dog itself and make sure the training is right for that particular pup. My girl has fooled many a trainer into thinking she's daft but having learnt her signals, I can now see how quick she is at picking up things and training me.

saintmerryweather Fri 09-Nov-12 22:39:29

i love clicker training, my dog is very sensitive to raised voices but loves being told hes a good boy or getting treats. i taught him to stand on a mark within 10 minutes with a clicker. i went to a 'traditional' class this week and came away feeling physically sick from what i saw. imo clicker training gets results from most dogs, encourages them to actually use their brains and engages them. maybe try it at home instead of in a class?

permaquandry Sat 10-Nov-12 09:27:28

Thx for all the replies. I'm beginning to think its the actual class that I have chosen, rather than the methods, I wasn't keen on the 'manner' of the trainers and it all was a bit noisy and confusing/rushed, the trainers seemed a bit 'flappy'. I could barely hear the trainer as my pup and another were having a singing completion. I know this cant be helped but the chaos was a bit much.

I've paid up front and am wondering if I should ask the trainer for a refund, I just don't think this one is right for us. I have spoken to a friend and they had heard similar stories.

What is in the back if my mind is we got a rescue pup who was 8 weeks when I was 12 and my dad 'trained' him, without any gimmicks, just common sense and commands and he was the BEST behaved dog. I'm honestly not biased but he never bit/jumped up/begged/ran off etc. Miss him tho sad. I can't see why we can't train this little (monster) darling to be the same? I do not use any kind of punishment, just repetition of a command and lots of praise.

Of course you can try and train him yourself.
It's your decision.

Puppy classes are very good for socialization as well though.

tabulahrasa Sat 10-Nov-12 11:57:37

I don't clicker train - nothing against it, just not enough hands and too forgetful to add other things to carry, lol. I'm basically doing the same thing but with a voice cue rather than a clicker.

I've trained a dog without treats (rescue with food issues) it's really hard work - dogs don't speak English, they don't come knowing what's praise and what's not, sometimes you haven't got enough time to praise good behaviour before they're doing something else... Doing it with food is so much easier and of course the older they get and the more trained they are the less you treat anyway. Once they are reliably following a command you don't treat every time.

The puppy classes I go to are busy and a bit chaotic, but really they're just about practising what I've done with him at home with distractions and a chance for him to meet other dogs in a controlled environment. The trainers go over what to do, then come round and talk to you as you're doing it, so if you haven't caught it you can talk to them then.

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