How to Find Dog Obedience Classesby Susan Paretts
Dog obedience classes not only teach your dog to obey your commands and improve his behavior, they also provide a good way to bond with your dog. Classes vary according to your needs, based on the dog's age and any previous training your dog has had. Some classes can even train your dog to become a therapy pet or compete in obedience competitions, such as those sponsored by the American Kennel Club. No matter your needs, find obedience classes in your area that will help you train your dog.
Contact your local AKC club if your dog is pedigreed and registered with the organization. These clubs offer classes specific to puppies or adult dogs. Trainers certified by the AKC will also train your dog to compete in agility and tracking competitions or to graduate from a program called the "AKC's Canine Good Citizen Program," which rewards owners with a special certificate.
Visit the website for the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers to locate a qualified trainer offering dog obedience classes in your area; contact one of the trainers listed. The CCPDT is a certifying organization that tests potential trainers for their knowledge of basic dog training and behavior. All trainers must pass a written exam, the CPDT-KA, and a skills-assessment test, the CPDT-KSA, based on a video submission. Trainers must also participate in continuing education to keep up with modern trends in dog training and behavior.
Ask your local veterinarian if she works with or can recommend a qualified dog trainer who offers obedience classes, such as a certified applied animal behaviorist. A CAAB usually works with a veterinarian on more serious behavioral issues in dogs and holds a master's or doctorate degree in animal behavior. These professional trainers are certified by the Animal Behavior Society and have knowledge of pet diseases that can affect behavior and of certain medications that may enhance your dog's training in certain cases. The trainer you choose can work with your vet to prescribe any necessary medications.
Call or visit your local pet supply store to see if it offers dog obedience training classes. Stores such as Petco and PetSmart, national pet supply chain stores, both offer dog obedience training for puppies, beginners and more advanced dogs. Classes are usually offered in a group setting with other dogs and owners.
Contact your local humane society, animal rescue or shelter to see if it works with, or can recommend, dog obedience classes in your area. Some rescue organizations offer dog obedience classes themselves on their premises; certain organizations may also offer the AKC Good Citizen Program certification for all dogs, not just those registered with the AKC.
Ask any friends, family members or acquaintances whose dogs have gone through obedience training whether they can recommend a trainer who offers classes. Contact the instructor and ask for previous references and about her training credentials before enrolling your dog in her classes.
Contact Pet Partners, the certifying organization for therapy pets and their handlers, if you are looking for specialized obedience classes for your dog to work in a setting such as a hospital or elder care facility. Attend a Pet Partners Handler Course workshop if you are interested in obedience training for your dog to become a therapy pet. The course gives you an overview of the types of training offered by Pet Partners and the training involved.
- The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors is a certifying organization for dog trainers that provides a list of its trainers in your area through its website.
- Most dog obedience classes are offered in groups, with other dogs and owners. If your dog is aggressive toward other dogs or people, seek the help of a trainer who will work with you alone to prevent any problems.
- Ask the dog trainer what vaccinations are required for your dog to join a class with other dogs or even for individual training. Have your dog vaccinated accordingly or obtain his veterinary records to prove his vaccinations are up-to-date.
- If you are interested in a specific trainer, ask to attend one or two of her classes to see how she interacts with existing clients before you commit to a long-term contract. The dogs in the class should appear comfortable, not frightened. This also gives you a sense of the instructor's training techniques and allows you to see if you get along well with her.
- Speak with the dog trainer about her credentials and ask to see written proof of these credentials; you can also call the certifying organization itself to see if the instructor is registered with it.
- Talk with former clients of any instructor you plan to work with to get an idea of their experiences with her.
- Inspect the premises of a dog obedience class before signing up for it. The facility should be clean, free of any feces or urine and temperature controlled if indoors, especially in extreme climates. Water should be provided for the dogs during classes to prevent dehydration.
- Some trainers work with your dog without you present, in your home, a day care facility or boarding kennel. These trainers may work well for you if you have little spare time to attend obedience lessons with your dog.
- Consult your veterinarian if your dog suddenly starts displaying signs of aggression before seeking the help of a pet behaviorist; some health problems can cause aggressive behavior in dogs.
- Serious problems, such as aggression toward other dogs or people, may require the help of a veterinary behaviorist certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. These people are veterinarians with additional training in animal behavior and can prescribe medication for your dog if necessary.
- Avoid dog trainers who use harsh punishment such as physically hitting a dog to train him or recommend that you do so. Report any such animal cruelty to your local animal control office.
- A reputable trainer should allow you to view her facility and attend a class before signing up; if the trainer seems reluctant to do so, seek another trainer.
- American Kennel Club: Getting Started in Obedience
- National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors: Standards of Conduct
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Finding Professional Help
- PetSmart: Classes
- Petco: Dog Training Classes
- San Diego Humane Society and SPCA: Resources
- Canine Nanny Services: Choosing a Dog Trainer
- National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors: Search for NADOI Instructors
- Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers: Find Training & Behavior Consultants
- American Kennel Club: AKC’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program
- American Kennel Club: Training Clubs
- American College of Veterinary Behaviorists: Member Directory
- Pet Partners: How to Become a Registered Therapy Animal Team
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