Classes Versus Private Training
Group classes and individual training serve very different purposes. Classes are good for socializing your dog around people and other dogs. If you want to learn to read your dog’s behavior and respond so that you can change specific behaviors, you won’t learn that in a class. In a class there isn’t enough time to show each owner how to read their dog’s specific signals and find an effective way to communicate their expectations to their dog, so the information tends to be more general in nature. Every dog and owner are different. Not all dogs respond to the same types of correction or reward and not all owners are able to deliver all types of correction in a way that gets results. Effective training requires modifying the training methods to find what works for both you and your dog. In a one on one session I will first show you how to make sure your dog takes his/her direction from you. Then you will learn how to respond to specific behaviors your dog has in a way that will reinforce the behaviors you want and stop reinforcing the ones you don’t want.
I have quite a few clients that have been to multiple trainers that weren’t able to solve their behavioral problems prior to coming to me. From the stories my clients tell me, there are a lot of really bad trainers out there giving terrible advice.
Most trainers probably have good intentions. The problem is most often in the diagnosis of the problem. Just as with medical doctors, the key is finding a good diagnostician that can accurately assess the underlying problem that is the cause of the symptoms.
No matter how great a treatment is, if it isn’t addressing the actual problem it won’t get the desired results. This is where most trainers drop the ball (no pun intended). They treat the symptom and not the underlying problem. For more on this view read my blog article titled Treating the Problem — Not the Symptom.
One reason many dog trainers, as well as dog training books and videos are not effective is that they don’t go into enough detail. Dogs respond to the subtlest details of our interactions with them. Generally these are things that have no meaning to people, but mean a lot to dogs. To change dog behavior requires that you find someone that recognizes this and can show you exactly what it is in your interaction with your dog that your dog is responding to that is not getting you the result you want. This becomes particularly important once the trainer shows you a technique and you have had the opportunity to practice. Results come from picking up on the smallest clues sent by your dog as to how effective your interaction is at producing the result you want and fine-tuning you technique based on this continuous feedback.