Monday, April 19, 2010

Ask Questions!

It's spring and lots of folks are calling about getting their dog into my classes. It's always interesting to see who are actually doing homework on the their potential training school, and who is just "shopping".

Remember, price doesn't dictate what you'll get. Every so often I get a caller asking for price only, and then when I tell them they thank me and hang up. Dog training is not like buying a car. We're not all the same, and you do get what you pay for.

With that said, be sure to ask more than just "how much". Yes, I agree, we're all on a budget here, so asking beyond what the cost is will help you decide if you're getting more for your money with one school vs. another. Here are some good questions to ask when looking for a dog training school to fit your style!

1. What training method do you use at your school? My response to that is "I train with my brain, not my brawn". Folks will tell you they use positive training techniques because they give a cookie here or there during training. Be sure you're comfortable with what they're doing.

2. What training collars do you allow in your school? Hopefully they say any and all, and that the dog dictates what will work, not us. There are many useful tools out there now beyond the prong and slip collars. Find a school that wants to work with your dog's needs, not against it!

3. How many dogs are you a class? Depending on the size of the ring (not the school) will depict how many dogs can be in a class. I take up to 12 in our large ring. And to be honest, even if I had more room, I wouldn't take more. I have an assistant for each class to help the trainer, but too many dogs in a class means you don't get the attention you and your pup need, plus it's just so much more distraction!

4. Is the school handicapped accessible? Ok, so this is an odd question, but think on it. The schools that are concerned about the comfort of their students will have access to those who need it. My school has a ramp up to the door and the bathroom is handicapped accessible with a large door and hand grips.

5. Do you give handouts or workbooks with class? Getting it in writing is important and helpful.

6. Can my partner and I both train the dog? Believe it or not, there are still schools out there that say the dog must have just one trainer throughout the class. This seems silly to me since the dog is living with both partners, and now just one is being educated. I always say it saves on relationships when the "trainer" tells the partner they're doing it wrong vs. the partner saying it!

And of course, always go and watch a class before you sign up. Look to be sure that the space is comfortable, that the folks training are having fun, that there isn't too much "mayhem" going on! Be sure before you sign!

So, bottom line, do your homework before you choose a school. This is an important step for you and your dog and you want it to fit the both of you!

Enjoy the lovely spring we're having!

Deb, Corky, Everee and Eli

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