January is National Train Your Dog Month
Don't worry if you had no idea. Neither did I until I researched some creative content ideas.
Penny is the first dog I have done organized training with and I have to say, I love it - and so does she! I think it's even safe to say that we're both a little addicted.
Penny graduated from Puppy Class at Petco in August...
We enrolled her for the socialization while we waited for our planned Basic Obedience class to start at another facility. I was a little disappointed that there was only one other puppy in her class, but Penny had a blast... and she showed us all just how much of a smarty-pants she was.
We started Basic Obedience a few weeks later and that's where Penny really got to shine. She loves to learn and work, and would get so excited when she realized it was "training night." My girl graduated and passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test just before Christmas.
Yes, I am one proud Mama! We both had so much fun with our new friends from class.
One of the biggest things I picked up (besides patience, lol) is to make training a part of your life every single day - short 10-15 minute sessions work best, especially when learning new commands - and I was happy to see that's one of the first things noted on the National Train Your Dog website.
How to Find A Trainer
- The NTYD website not only has a lot of great training tips and videos, but they also have a Dog Trainer Search Directory. However, our trainer was not listed, so keep in mind that not all amazing trainers are a part of this particular network. It's a good reference starting point, but as far as I'm concerned, word of mouth and personal recommendations are more important.
- Ask your friends, family and social network for recommendations. I put the question out on Facebook and within minutes I had several recommendations, and even a couple of "stay away from so-and-so because..." comments. The trainer I chose was recommended by at least half a dozen different people who have zero connection to one another - people who trained their own dogs there, groomers who's clients spoke highly of the facility, even relatives of dogs who took her classes.
- Contact your potential trainer and ask questions. My first contact was through email and trust me, I had lots of questions - all of which were answered in detail. If you have concerns about the style of training or equipment used in class, this is the time to ask. For instance, I knew of other facilities who used prong collars for training - something I wanted no part of. Upon asking, I learned that martingale collars were used in class, which was perfect as they are my preferred style.
- Be sure you understand the class description and know what it includes. Not all obedience classes are created equal - and that goes for length, commands taught, and end results. Penny's class was 12 weeks long and included some intermediate training, as well as the AKC CGC test on graduation night. Some facilities offer the CGC as a completely separate class.
- Visit the training facility before registering for class. When it comes to boarding, grooming, or training, I think this step is a must before making any reservations or payments. My trainer offered a visit, however, if the facility you're talking to fails to mention it, ask to set up a visit. Not only will it give you a first hand look at where you'll be spending the next 8 - 12 weeks, you'll hopefully meet the trainer in person and get in a trial run with your GPS if you aren't familiar with the area.
We plan to start another class soon, although I'm not exactly sure which one just yet. I thought Penny would love Flyball, but that seems to be pretty obscure around here. Our trainer thinks she would be great at scent training, so that's what we're leaning towards now. Stay tuned...