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Classes. How was it for you?

(77 Posts)
CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 16:58:14

Hello All – can I get opinions on Classes? For puppies or Adult dogs. I think I should let you know I’m a Trainer but this isn’t market research for me, I want to look at client satisfaction or otherwise, your expectations and outcomes. A relatively low percentage of UK dog owners attend group classes and I’m interested in why this might be? As a Trainer I have many clients who book One-One private training having previously attended/or dropped out of Group Classes. As a starting point it’s worth asking those of you who have gone, whether it was worthwhile and positive for you. If you’re interested there’s also a very quick survey here. goo.gl/forms/SXbPLJhw9cnUPD5p2

BiteyShark Mon 12-Mar-18 17:05:14

I went to three different group classes before I found the one for me.

The first one didn't seem that interested in us and actually made a comment about that's what you should expect if you buy a spaniel (no advice on how to calm him down at all).

The second was much better and I found the trainer to be really nice and helpful but it was obvious that whilst other dogs took to the training mine wasn't interested and didn't respond at all and it was getting me down.

The third was a trainer who specifically trained gun dogs and the difference was amazing. Because the training was tailored to my breed it was invaluable and I wish we hadn't wasted the weeks before at the other groups.

Tralalee Mon 12-Mar-18 17:08:31

We are rural and had very little choice of classes. I went twice. The trainer made it clear she had big favourites among the dogs and mine wasn't one of them. Came away both times feeling depressed and as though ddog would never be trained. Didn't go back. No questions or follow up as to why. Ddog settled down in the following few months and is now a loving sociable friendly dog with good recall.

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 17:17:01

Thanks BiteyShark, really interesting that you had to go to 3 different classes before you found your fit.

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 17:22:18

Tralalee that sounds like a pretty demoralising experience. So sorry that happened. Bad that there was no follow up once you'd left the class. Depressingly familiar tale tho unfortunately, as so far more than half of the survey respondents report not completing a full course of classes.

BiteyShark Mon 12-Mar-18 17:23:21

Tralalee I felt the same with the first group in that it was clear they spoke to the owners of the dogs they 'liked' and I came away feeling very disappointed and never went back after the first week (even though I had paid for 6 weeks).

steppemum Mon 12-Mar-18 17:29:59

we have a 3 year old spaniel, adopted 4 months ago as a rescue. He is a lovely dog, and very bright and eager to please.

I don't have much spare cash, (less now we have a dog grin) and so I have been doing loads of youtube research and training him from that.
Plus loads of tips from spaniel people on here (waves at biteydog)

he is doing really well, and learning loads.

I had a good look at local classes just after Christmas, but have not yet signed up to anything, and the main reason is that no-one seems to meet our need. They are mostly aimed at puppies, and very little for adult dogs who have some amazing abilities and some huge holes in their training.

Any class which offers the basics is too easy, as he can do 90% of it very well, and we don't need to pay to repeat stuff he is good at. Any class offering more assumes he has passed a lower class, which he he hasn't as he hasn't done them.

Maybe a dog like mine needs 1:1. But I can't afford that, and one thing we would like to improve is his ability to listen with distractions, ie other dogs.

I am looking at agility classes, as I think he would be amazing. Flyball would be my optimum choice, but can't find a beginners class.

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 17:40:40

Bitey & Tralalee that's just so rubbish for you. When I was training to be a trainer I was taught about the importance of recognising the needs of the individual handler as well as their dog, adapting to each and giving each individual time. It's not easy in a group setting but it is doable and it should be a teachers aim to bring the whole class along.

Tralalee Mon 12-Mar-18 17:44:52

Tralalee I felt the same with the first group in that it was clear they spoke to the owners of the dogs they 'liked' and I came away feeling very disappointed and never went back after the first week (even though I had paid for 6 weeks)

Yes I did exactly the same. It was really cliquey and unfriendly!

I didn't bother at all with dog number 2

Tbh if you reinforce routine everyday and make it clear what is good behaviour and what isn't, eventually they all get it. Mine come to work with me and get lots of walks everyday, they are lovely kind dogs

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 17:50:42

steppemum sounds like fun agility or flyball would be brill for your chap. You may have looked at these already www.agilitynet.co.uk and www.flyball.org.uk. They should be able to point you in the right direction. Another one to consider might be some scentwork. Great way to do calm, focussed and mentally stimulating (and physically tiring - BONUS!) exercises around other dogs and people. scentworkuk.com

BiteyShark Mon 12-Mar-18 17:55:09

CannyJB with the gun dog group even though they are already tailoring it to my breed the trainer always makes sure to take the time to talk to each of us and comments about our individual dogs and what we need to do specifically as we all struggle with different issues and it makes such a difference to feel that they actually care and want us to progress.

Whilst the second group tried to do the same they just didn't have quite the experience with the breed so whilst I appreciate what they tried to do (and I did the full course) it just wasn't helping so I don't want to be negative as they were a million times better than the first group.

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 18:04:41

Sure BiteyShark totally got that from your first post that the second of the classes you attended was better than the first. I just hate hearing about the clique setting that both you and Tralalee experienced first time around. What breed is your dog by the way?

BluthsFrozenBananas Mon 12-Mar-18 18:17:50

Our experience wasn’t fantastic if I’m honest. I’m another one who felt the trainer had favourites, she also made some disparaging remarks about my dog’s breed, then later insisted the dog must be a cross breed because her behaviour was too good for a full breed of her type (she’s not a crossbreed).

I don’t know how many puppies are normally in a class, but ours had eight which felt like too many both for the space and to actually learn anything. The trainer would demonstrate what she wanted the pups to do, then have us quickly run through it. There was no real time for asking questions, and if a dog failed to get it right it was a case of just move onto the next one rather than any chance to practice and correct the problem.

We did complete the course but it wasn’t at all an enjoyable experience, and we won’t be moving on to the more advanced levels.

BiteyShark Mon 12-Mar-18 18:21:26

Mine is a spaniel (working type)

(waves back at steppemum grin)

Tralalee Mon 12-Mar-18 18:24:44

Mine is a border terrier.

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 18:26:44

Oh yikes BluthsFrozenBananas pretty shocked at this to be honest particularly the remarks about your pups Breed!

What the hell is that about? I would say 8 is OK providing she had assistants, at least two, helping her, and the space was large. Otherwise no eight in a class is too many.

Sofabitch Mon 12-Mar-18 18:28:49

I loved my classes. I did a few 1 2 1s on the side with the same lady to strengthen a few things like recall etc.

At first though it was so frustrating and slow! I wanted to rush ahead and teach him everything. But now I see how she built up the skills in a good way.

They are marketed wrong though. Not really dog classes but classes for humans to learn how to train a dog. Which i wasn't expecting...I guess at fir st I thought they were going to train the dog. I didn't realise how much effort I'd have to put in.

Any way, small classes 4 dogs for 1 hour sessions. I loved that my trainer sent you tube links to re enforce the learning etc.

Things that put me off was often feeling I was in trouble for doing it wrong...we taught sofa pup to sit before we started classes and she wasn't happy we had used the wrong hand signal!

ScreamingValenta Mon 12-Mar-18 18:29:26

I found puppy classes very enjoyable - it was a good opportunity to socialise pup with a wide range of people, including children, who he wouldn't otherwise have met properly - and for him to be in a noisy and busy yet safe environment. For this reason, I'd definitely choose a class in preference to one-to-one tuition.

The class we went to was friendly and not at all cliquey - we didn't know anyone there, but everyone talked to us.

The only drawback I can remember is that our pup was quite small - a Cavalier King Charles - and some of the exercises were more difficult because we couldn't hold a treat in front of him without bending double, unlike owners of larger breeds. If demand permitted it, classes split by size of dog would address this. But we managed!

Sofabitch Mon 12-Mar-18 18:30:09

Sorry just to add 4 dogs with the trainer and assistant for every session except 121s

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 18:30:29

Ah I have a soft spot for both of those, LOVE terriers and work with plenty of Spaniels. TBitey & Tralalee

FittyPheasant Mon 12-Mar-18 18:30:46

I love classes! I have taken both my pups to the basic classes and found them really helpful. I now do agility classes with older pup and train them both at home (young pup is actually a lot better at it but she is too young to jump and the next basic class isn’t for 6mo this or so). We are on the waiting list to take both pups to obedience classes and I’d love to do some proper heal work with older pup but I need someone to train me to train her. Unfortunately there is not one great trainer locally so there is quite a waiting list.
At the puppy classes all the people who started the course at the same time as us finished.

BluthsFrozenBananas Mon 12-Mar-18 18:38:21

No assistants and in a pretty small community hall type place. I think there were only meant to be six but two more had been squeezed in, something to do with them not being able to make other dates. Fortunately only one of the pups was a large breed.

GruffaIo Mon 12-Mar-18 18:39:25

We currently have two dogs, both rescue, and have had another dog before. What we needed more was socialisation than 'training' per se.

The first, we got at 7 months (with the rescue centre for 6 months, found in a box on the side of the road with other pups at 4 weeks) we took to socialisation classes. She was too afraid to get much benefit from it, so we gave up, and just gradually got her used to other dogs in the park over time.

Our second, we got at 4 years, and he'd been a stray reject working dog, living on the land for a number of years. Whilst he loves our other dog (who 'picked' him out as her favourite when she met various rescues), he was unpredictably aggressive toward other dogs - very likely as a result of negative experiences, since he is a relatively small collie/spaniel cross and bears a number of scars from fights. A class would have been too difficult for everyone. We muzzle him and have a trainer, who sees him every month - initially for socialisation but, as he's improving now, we spend a bit more time on fun exercises.

BluthsFrozenBananas Mon 12-Mar-18 18:43:04

Just to add it wasn’t cliquey amongst the owners, everyone was very friendly. It was that the trainer had a couple of clear favourite dogs and was a bit snarky and rolly eyed about the dogs who didn’t pick things up quickly.

CannyJB Mon 12-Mar-18 18:45:07

Thank you Sofabitch, so glad you had a positive experience. Yes it is about training you to train your dog. Sounds like a perfect size of group. Sorry you got told off for the wrong hand signal. (I don't think it's that important) whatever works for you and your pup is good.

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