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Puppy training classes- worth it or not?

(24 Posts)
Asinine Tue 15-Feb-11 12:12:20

We're getting a Labrador puppy soon. He or she will be our first family dog although we both had dogs as kids. I'd like to know if puppy classes are useful or just a money making scheme? I've read up on dog training but will that be enough? Let me know about your puppy class experiences ( and how your dogs turned out.... )

Lizcat Tue 15-Feb-11 14:01:42

Just one glance at the muzzled dog having to sit completely separate from the other dogs at my obedience class at the age of 3 having never been to any training classes will tell that these are essential. When any other person or dog passes close to her she lunges at them very aggressively. After two months the main trainer can hold her lead without her leaping to attempt to bite his arm.
Not only is it about training your dog, but also socialising them with a wide variety of other breeds and people. A good puppy class will parade all manner of people past your puppy to give them a wide variety of experiences.
So as a dog owner and a vet I would say good quality puppy classes are essential.

Asinine Tue 15-Feb-11 14:11:48

Thanks Lizcat, I was worried about socialisation when puppy has not finished vaccinations. A puppy class would help with that. Where else is considered safe to take them? I will be getting puppy at 8 weeks old before Easter holidays.

minimu1 Tue 15-Feb-11 14:15:49

Vital and personally I think should be made compulsory for all new dog owners and puppies. Having said that it needs to be a Good puppy class not any old training class.

Preferable a trained trainer (not someone who has had dogs for years!) APDT and uses positive reward based training methods. You may have to travel a bit for this but essential. If they bring out a rattle bottle or spray a dog that is barking run out screaming and find another class.

I am a dog behaviourist so you could say I have the knowledge to train my dogs but I always take my dogs to a training class.

Training methods have changed probably since you had dogs as children and the newer methods are easier, more effective, better for the dog.

BeerTricksPotter Tue 15-Feb-11 14:26:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PurpleFrog Tue 15-Feb-11 14:38:51

We also have a lab and have gone to training classes since a couple of weeks after his final vaccinations. We started with the puppy class and have progressed to the "bronze class". He is 8 months now. He loves going - it is the highlight of his week! dd(13) usually handles him and she loves it too. And she will actually listen to the trainer without arguing back! grin

Rory still has a long way to go - he is too easily distracted by other dogs and people - but he is getting there!

Seriously, reading books is good, but all pups are different and it is really useful to have a trained eye point things out to you - or give you a different way of doing something, if one method isn't working.

Asinine Tue 15-Feb-11 14:45:05

Thanks for all advice. Have googled apdt and there is someone local to us, so have emailed to find a class. It would be fun to take the kids ( maybe not all at the same time) to get them involved.
People keep asking if we've seen Marley and Me - think they're worried about us!hmm But we're having the dog after the kids, not the other way round.

OnlyWantsOne Tue 15-Feb-11 14:49:42

we didnt take our lab to classes, but we have put lots of work in - shes lovely she's now 7 months and recall fantastic, we employed the local dog walker lady (who trains dogs too) to take us out with her and the kids and the pram etc and teach us how to train her - as I cant do puppy classes with 2 kids and DP at work - it really helped,

things like getting her to look at us and to get her to concentrate on us when giving commands.

We still have lots of work, she just wants to play all the time with other dogs!!

Beamur Tue 15-Feb-11 14:50:46

Classes are also good for training owners. grin

Mrsfred Wed 16-Feb-11 13:27:18

Beamur, I thought the classes were to train the owners and not the dogs grin.

I did two lots of puppy training. First when our dog was tiny, the second when he got to 9 months and we lost our way a bit and he kept running off blush.

Thoroughly enjoyed both lots.

CalamityKate Wed 16-Feb-11 14:05:28

Everything MiniMu said.

Some are wonderful, some are basically free-for-alls that can actually CAUSE ishoos with other dogs. They need to learn to mix with other dogs in a controlled way, and also to learn to cope with distractions.

I would also add that if you find a good one, and your dog seems to be the "worst", it's important you stick with it. We went to puppy classes and then moved on to a Competitive Obedience class and I almost didn't go back after the first one blush

To be fair, all the other dogs were older and more experienced than mine but it was SO disheartening to see them all performing perfect heelwork etc, totally focussed on their handler, while ALL mine wanted to do - literally - was sniff the floor. EVERYTHING she could do at home went out of the window in the face of a new environment which is a huge aspect of training classes, whatever you want to end up doing; they have to learn to respond to you in different places/situations in order for training to be totally reliable.

SlubberdeVelcro Wed 16-Feb-11 15:44:48

mmm

Oh God I think I'm going to disagree with minimu and Kate (a bit) <crosses self> in that I don't think if you don't go to Puppy training classes you will automatically end up with a disobedient and unruly dog.

I looked for local clicker training puppy classes but none fitted in with child care timings so I went down the self taught (books and the Internet) plus a home trainer route instead.

I think I have a pretty obedient puppy (one day left of being a puppy). She is considerably better behaved than other dogs we meet who have been to classes.

I think if you don't go down the classes route you have to expect to take your training out on the road and do lots of training in high distraction situations (ie with other dogs) as a beautiful sit and a down in your kitchen is a completely different kettle of fish in a park full of bouncy dogs.

SlubberdeVelcro Wed 16-Feb-11 15:48:17

When I say road I don't mean on an actual road, more like a band goes on the road...

SlubberdeVelcro Wed 16-Feb-11 15:50:50

But not in a clapped out VW van and sleeping in a poxy motel manner either

<shuts up now>

midori1999 Wed 16-Feb-11 21:52:38

I think they are essential really. I have dogs here that have been to them and dogs that didn't, although were as socialised as possible and I know which are the better socialised of the two groups.

www.puppyschool.co.uk are pretty good. I have used them and recommended them to puppy buyers who have been happy with them. Also as has been suggested www.apdt.co.uk

Lovedogs25 Thu 16-Jul-15 11:17:56

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Wolfiefan Thu 16-Jul-15 11:19:56

See we are looking into getting a dog. We will do training classes. Partly for socialisation But mainly to train me!!!

StarsInTheNightSky Thu 16-Jul-15 12:14:35

I think it depends very much on the individual dog, and to a lesser extent their breed. I have two Caucasian Ovcharkas and one Fila Brasiliero, all rescue dogs, and not one of my three would be able to cope with a training class of any description. They would be absolutely fine and lying at heel (they are very well trained) unless an out of control dog bounded at them, or came to greet them/me after ignoring their warning snarls.

Personally I don't like other people's dogs coming near me (or more specifically near toddler DS who is often in a sling on my back), my dogs know this and prevent it for me, where we live the majority of unknown dogs are either highly aggressive, rabid or both.

We live in a country where training classes are extremely rare, and where we live is so remote that there aren't any anyway. I do some schutzhund work with my two females which they love and are excellent at. Again though, different situation to the UK, our dogs are not just family pets but our bodyguards, they guard our ranch too. Horses for courses, but in the UK with a lab pul, it sounds like a good idea and will probably be great fun for you both. smile

StarsInTheNightSky Thu 16-Jul-15 12:15:36

*pup, not pul

StarsInTheNightSky Thu 16-Jul-15 12:17:35

Slubber the on the road explanation made me laugh grin

pigsDOfly Thu 16-Jul-15 12:33:38

Vital particularly for a first time owner - my dog's my first.

As pp it's really more about teaching the owner to train the dog, the training doesn't stop at the end of the six week course, it's only just beginning.

A lot of vet practices run puppy parties. Never took mine to one but from what I can gather from posters on here they're pretty useless, so probably best avoided; ok for the confident puppies but if you have a shy pup it could be pretty scary and you don't want your dog starting out fearful of other dogs.

ender Thu 16-Jul-15 13:06:06

It depends on whether the class is a good one. You get what you pay for I think. Small classes run by professional dog trainers can be expensive but worth it.
I took my first dog, lab puppy, to classes in the local village hall run by volunteers, I don't think they had any qualifications. It was crowded, chaotic and v stressfull, not good for an excitable lab pup but as a first time dog owner I didn't know any different.

SmartAlecMetalGit Thu 16-Jul-15 13:21:40

A great option for extra socialisation alongside training classes is ringcraft if you have a local club. They're for teaching you how to show your dog but they're generally very informal, more like a social gathering than a structured class. It's a great opportunity for puppies to get used to seeing lots of dogs of varying breeds and ages without interacting with them all.

I've taken all mine, regardless of whether I was going to show them or not and it was absolutely invaluable especially as there's a real dearth of decent puppy classes round here.

holmessweetholmes Thu 16-Jul-15 13:31:21

Probably essential for socialisation, but there are all the training methods and tips on the internet that you could possibly need. You can peruse them at leisure in your own time, choose which sound most sensible, and train your puppy away from distractions (at least initially). I've watched some great training videos on YouTube.

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