Group classes are one of the most common dog training options for pet owners. Each class generally lasts an hour or so long, and there are anywhere from four to eight dogs participating. The trainer works with everyone as a group, and will follow a set curriculum. Some classes will also include socialization time at the end for dogs and puppies.
Many dog owners will start off their puppy’s life by seeking out a puppy kindergarten class, and then continuing on through a series of group classes. But is that really the best path for your dog?
There are pros and cons to every type of dog training program, and group lessons are no different. Let’s start looking at some of the great aspects of group dog training classes.
Group Dog Training Class Benefits
- Cost Effectiveness: Group classes are generally going to be the cheapest option when you are looking for dog training lessons. Because your trainer will be working with multiple people in the same span of time, they can charge each person less. More affordable classes means that this can be the best option for those with a limited budget. You can also generally do more sessions in group lessons than you can in private lessons for the same amount of money.
- Built In Distractions: Your dog’s training should be able to hold up no matter what is going on in the environment. When you are in a group class, you are always going to be working around plenty of distractions. Multiple people and dogs working in the same room is a great way to replicate the distractions that you will face in the real world.
- Observational Learning: When you do a private lesson, it is just you and the trainer. You can watch the trainer demo things with your dog, but still might not quite get the visualization of how to do an exercise. When you are in a group class, you get to watch a half dozen other handlers working on the same thing. Sometimes just seeing somebody else learning can really help observational learners to figure things out.
- More Teamwork for You and Your Dog: When you do group classes, you have just one hour with the instructor every week. It is up to you to practice with your dog throughout the week to make sure that they get enough repetition of each skill. This really helps you to build a better relationship with your dog, and to improve your own training skills.
Group Training Class Negatives
- Less Individual Attention: The instructor of a group class has to divide their attention between multiple people, so there is less time for everyone to address individual issues. This makes group classes less than ideal for those who are dealing with behavioral issues that need a more personalized approach.
- Larger Time Commitment: Dogs need regular practice to make improvement on their training. When you are doing group dog training classes, you have to practice daily in between classes. You also have to make sure you are working on your own training skills. Compare this to a board and train program, where you learn to handle a trained dog instead of learning to train your dog yourself.
- Potential for Too Many Distractions: While the distractions of a group class can be great for proofing your obedience, they can be too much for a dog who is just learning basic skills. It is much harder for a dog to learn simple skills in a busy setting than it is to learn them in a quiet, controlled setting.
- Less Convenience: Group classes require that you drive to a location every week, participate in an hour class, and then go home and practice every day in between lessons. If you were doing private lessons, your trainer will often drive to your home instead and work with you there. In a board and train, you don’t have to worry about getting in all of the repetitions with your dog because your trainer will do it for you.
What Dogs are a Good Fit For Group Dog Training Classes?
- Young puppies who just need to learn the basics.
- Dogs who need obedience proofing.
- Dogs who are doing sports like rally, nosework, competition obedience, or agility
- Dogs who are working toward their Canine Good Citizen
- Therapy dogs
- Dogs doing advanced obedience
- Dogs who have owners with existing training experience
If you think that group classes sound like a good fit for you, contact us to ask about our upcoming offerings.