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Do you take your puppies/dogs to obedience classes?

  • Yes

    Votes: 17 51.5%
  • Yes, but only to the basic puppy class

    Votes: 3 9.1%
  • It depends on the dog

    Votes: 3 9.1%
  • No

    Votes: 10 30.3%
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Discussion Starter #1
I have never taken any of our dogs (we have 3) to obedience class; I have always been in charge of training our dogs. I've read a lot about different training methods for specific things, but never really anything about general training. I don't use clicker training and never cared to learn. I just get some treats and work with my dogs (one at a time for new tricks and in a group to work with known tricks).
So I'm just curious how other people train their dogs.

I usually start off teaching 3 tricks, focusing on one. The other two are more just for introduction and used as buffers between the 'main trick of the day' to practice the trick after spending some time doing something else. Once one trick is mostly mastered, I start a new trick as the 'main trick' and add the mostly mastered trick into the mix. Once there are two mostly mastered tricks, I'll add another. Well, that's basically what I do. I modify my training depending on the dog, and it also depends on the age - I never stop teaching tricks (this doesn't mean I train with them every day or even every week, but when I see an opportunity for a new trick, I'll teach it). When he was 5 I thought my Cairn to spin when you say 'beg'.. so I didn't use buffer tricks, I just focused on the one trick. If I'm working with a trick, known or unknown, and they don't do what they're supposed to, I'll let them know that's not right; if I want my dogs to learn stay and they keep walking, I'll tell them 'eh' (which is my way of saying 'that's not right') and they realize that what they did was wrong and they try something else. When they do it right, they get praised.

For certain things I don't really train, but more just get my dog to understand me. When we walk, I'll let my dogs stop to sniff things and when I think it's time to go, I'll say "let's go." There's never a chance for them to not come, because I start walking and they have no choice to stay behind. They just learn that "let's go" means I have to start walking. I praise them a little for walking with me, but don't make a huge deal about it; I can take all three dogs out without a leash and they will catch up to me and walk with me when I say "let's go." I use basically the same method to get my dogs to understand to get off the couch when I say "off." I also used this to teach "wait" (meaning, stay by me, don't go anywhere).

For housebreaking I make sure my dogs get out a lot as puppies and praise them heavily for going outside. When they go inside and I catch them I tell them 'no' and bring them outside. If they finish outside, I praise them heavily. If I don't catch it I just clean it up and pay more attention for next time.

As I said before, I'll change up my methods depending on the dog, but basically, I feel like the major component is consistency. I started this thread to see what other people do and get ideas. I don't plan on changing my method, but who knows; one day I might get a dog that doesn't really get this method; I don't think anything is one-size-fits-all. I'd also like to hear people's points of view on puppy/obedience classes. As I said, I've never been and don't really plan on ever going, but would love to hear what people say because I have an open mind and would like to know more information in case I ever end up with a dog that I feel might benefit from it.
 

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I haven't taken my current dog to classes, but I voted "it depends" because if I had a dog that I knew I couldn't train on my own, for example with behavioral problems preventing me from working with them, then I absolutely would look for a good trainer to help. But overall I prefer to train on my own, mainly due to cost but also because I know I can.
 

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I have taken both my dogs to lots of classes. I still do most training on my own, and I already know how to train dogs. But classes provide structure and distractions, which I like.
 

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I always take all my dogs to obedience classes, if for no other reason than it's great for socializing for both them and me. I have belonged to my local dog club since I was born.
 

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Years ago I went to obedience classes with my pups. Lately ... no. I train myself. If I have a difficulty that I absolutely cannot fix myself ... I ask for professional advice and go from there.

I was born with a puppy in my arms! Lol! I love training myself. :)
 

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I always take all my dogs to obedience classes, if for no other reason than it's great for socializing for both them and me. I have belonged to my local dog club since I was born.
Oh that was you toddling around in your diaper with a leash in your hand? ha ha

I too bring all my dogs to classes at some point. It is good for them to learn to work around other dogs. When I was younger, I enjoyed the whole experience more. When I get another puppy I will go again but for now, My dogs are good enough. I don't feel the need to do any advanced work anymore. They know all the basics and are very easy to live with. I don't care if they don't do Utility articles but my dogs must have good mannners.
 

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I've never taken my dogs to any sort of training classes. I don't even think there are any in my area, there are probably some South of here but too far away to be worth going to.
I like training my dogs myself and if I have an issue, I search the internet or order a book from the library.
 

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I take them to classes because it's FUN! :) Zoey and I have even repeated the same classes twice, just because we like going. She never needed the classes, because I trained her at home myself, but getting out and socializing with a bunch of other dogs/dog owners is a great thing to be able to do.
 

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We did puppy class through obedience 2, then went on to agility and then flyball classes.
 

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Thing is, unless you send your dog to a board and train or daytraining class, you WILL be training your dog yourself. But, with classes, you have more structure, more controlled distractions and a fresh set of experienced eyes to guide you. I know that even as long as I've been training, it helps me to have someone point out things I may be doing that I'm not aware that I am doing, and to offer suggestions when what I am doing isn't working as well as I'd like. One student and I were talking the other night about how much more the dog gets if you really work with them on more complex skills, and how much stronger the bond becomes.
 

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Hamilton just graduated Puppy Kindergarten yesterday, and will start with advanced good manners class in June. He likes going, I like taking him, he seems to really enjoy learning and it helps him socialize so I see no reason not to keep bringing him. He is my first dog, though we had him following basic commands before we went, and a lot of the basic stuff was stuff we were already doing.
 

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I enjoyed our training classes (we did Puppy through Advanced at our local PetSmart; we lucked out and got a GREAT positive-methods trainer there). My dog learned skills and tricks, I learned lots of techniques and we both got to socialize with other puppies and dogs and their people. If I were to get another dog now I'd take him/her to class again. You can't replicate the distractions and social aspect at home.

Even now, several years later, we keep in touch with our trainer. She thinks Kenda is a good candidate to become a therapy dog and we did our first nursing home visit on Monday. Training didn't begin or end with obedience classes, but I think obedience classes were a vital part of training my dog.
 

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I only ended up taking the first obedience class with Jubel because I wanted to try agility for fun. You couldn't take an agility class without a previous obedience class. I'd already taught him 90% of the skills covered in the obedience class myself at home and he mastered that other 10% easily once introduced. I still really enjoyed taking the class with him even when it barely covered any new skills for us. It helped proof the skills he already had with the distraction of the class room environment and provided another set of eyes to help me improved my training.

Since then we've moved on to agility and nosework classes and will probably continue to take 1-2 classes a year of some sort for ever just because it's a fun bonding experience with your dog. Other than the lack of equipment I think I COULD train Jubel for just about anything myself but it's easier with the structure and support you get in a class environment.
 

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Oh that was you toddling around in your diaper with a leash in your hand? ha ha

I too bring all my dogs to classes at some point. It is good for them to learn to work around other dogs. When I was younger, I enjoyed the whole experience more. When I get another puppy I will go again but for now, My dogs are good enough. I don't feel the need to do any advanced work anymore. They know all the basics and are very easy to live with. I don't care if they don't do Utility articles but my dogs must have good mannners.
Who knows, coulda been! I'll have to ask my mom XD
 

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Yes I have. And do(actually just got home from a class)

I dont take them for basic obiedence. But we go for other things, agility, rally ect. Im currently taking a tricks class with Blaze. I know I could teach these. But its a fun way to spend a hour with him, in a high distraction place.

I took Solo to puppy classes, just for the socialization aspect.
 

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Yup, I like the structure. I like that my dogs meet different dogs and different people in different classes. And I like trying out different types of activities.
 

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Up until school got very busy Dreizehn was always in an obedience class. Sometimes they were repeats of classes we've already taken and sometimes they were something new. It's not that he NEEDS it as much as it got us out of the house in a place where there were more dogs/people/distractions. Plus, I don't think training should stop as soon as a dog learns something. Ruthie, who is new to me has yet to go to a class but that's only due to how busy I've been. I'm fortunate to have a training club here that has cheap classes for club members ($60 for 6 hours over 6 weeks). If it was more expensive than we probably won't do as many classes.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I agree that training never stops. You really do have to keep working on tricks.

As for not ever being able to replicate distractions you might experience elsewhere in your home... well, I can't say I disagree, because it's true. I wont be working with a bunch of strange dogs and people in a new location doing tricks. However, I wouldn't say that obedience classes really prepare your dog for distractions. I know plenty of people who believe it does and when their dog gets loose on a walk, they can't call him back. You have to go beyond obedience classes to actually get that experience. That's why I joined a dog group in my community. We get together - there's usually at least two meetings a week, nothing is mandatory - and walk our dogs or have play groups. That is the only thing I have found to actually be helpful with training dogs during distractions. When together, I will take my dog aside and do some tricks, or ask my dog to do something while he's right there with some dogs (sometimes I get other dogs who know the command doing the trick too; especially with sit.
I'm interested in anyone who's had an obedience class in a field near a busy path or in a dog park with other dogs. This obviously wouldn't be for beginners - you need some experience before doing this - but would be a great way to polish commands and practice them with real distractions.

As for the socialization aspect, I didn't realize there was that much socialization at obedience classes. I talked to my neighbor who goes regularly and she said that the first two classes she did with her puppy didn't have any socialization time. They could come early or stay a little late and let the dogs meet each other, but since it was in a store-type location, there wasn't much they could do (they couldn't be let off their leashes). The third class she's in now does have some socialization time built in, but again, they can't be let off their leashes to actually socialize, so they can't actually learn to play.
Do you have a class where there is real socialization time built in, or is yours mostly on-leash socialization?
 
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