Time and time again I get asked the age-old question when it comes to getting a new puppy or trying to break naughty dog behavior habits…
“Do I need to bring my dog to a dog obedience school?”
And my answer is…Maybe!
There are many different reasons why dog obedience school might be the best option for your pup. That being said, I firmly believe that the majority of dogs can learn to focus, listen, and respond to commands in the comfort of their own home.
So, before you make a decision on what type of dog training program you want to try, I want to get a little bit more clarity on your specific needs. It’s my hope that by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll have the answer to the question of what’s best for you and your canine companion.
Let’s get started with some questions…
Dog Obedience School Question #1: What are you looking to get out of a dog training program?
As noted above, my first question is simply, “What are you looking to get out of your dog training program?”
The most common reason I find people take their dogs to obedience training classes is to teach their pups some basic commands such as sitting, staying, and coming when called.
If this is your reasoning for attending a dog training class, I’m going to start by saying it’s probably not 100% necessary…we will talk more about why in just a bit.
The next reason someone might take their dog to an obedience class is that they are not confident in their own skills as a dog trainer. If you don’t have a lot of experience with training dogs I understand completely why you would make that decision.
Having somebody help you train your dog can be a wonderful thing. That being said, dog obedience schools and puppy training classes can be very pricey. Learning to train your dog yourself—with a program like my Dog Calming Code™—is easier than you might think and is usually a more affordable solution.
Last but not least some people take their pups to obedience classes for socialization. This aspect of training is incredibly important—especially if you have a young puppy who has never been around other dogs before.
If your puppy or dog needs to be socialized and you need to learn how to correctly introduce your pup to other dogs, then an obedience class can be a great resource. That being said, it can be just as easy (and free) to bring your dog out to the park or a family member’s house that has other dogs to socialize your pup…just make sure the environment is safe for all animals and that you have some education on socializing dogs BEFORE the introduction!
To sum it all up, if you have a dog that’s a relatively good listener and you’re fairly confident in your ability to teach the basics, an obedience class for your dog is probably not necessary.
If your dog is struggling with bigger issues, you’re not confident in your ability to help your dog, or your dog is lacking proper socialization skills then you might benefit from attending an obedience class.
Dog Obedience School Question #2: Is there an underlying issue that’s causing your dog’s behavioral problems?
This question is VERY important.
You see, there’s a difference between a dog simply not knowing how to do something because they’ve never been taught and a dog refusing to do something because there’s an underlying relationship issue with you.
If there’s no underlying relationship issue, then an obedience class can help you teach your dog to follow basic commands.
However, if your dog gets anxious, refuses to listen, and doesn’t follow your lead there’s a bigger relationship problem at play. Here’s what I mean by that…
By nature, dogs are pack animals. And you are a part of your dog’s “pack.” Within this pack, there is a natural leadership order. If you have yet to earn your dog’s trust and respect and establish yourself as the “leader” your dog isn’t going to focus on you and listen to you.
Let’s say your dog is afraid of large trucks. Every time you and your dog go on a walk and a truck drives by your dog panics, shakes, pants, and tries to run away from the truck that is approaching.
Why does this happen? Your dog doesn’t trust you as the leader. And if he doesn’t trust you then why would he believe that he needs to listen to you to stay safe?
In this scenario, no amount of basic obedience training will help you. You need to first win your dog’s mind before you can teach him how to get over his fear of trucks.
Sadly, most dog obedience classes won’t teach you how to “win your dog’s mind.” You need a program that dives deeper—like my Dog Calming Code™ Program—if you want to see real training results.
Dog Obedience School Question #3: What types of programs are available in your area?
There are some great doctors out there and others who face terrible lawsuits from malpractice.
There are some wonderful accountants out there and others who have completely messed up their clients’ books.
Unfortunately, the same thing goes for dog trainers…
There are some wonderful trainers/programs out there, but there are also many trainers/programs you want to stay clear of.
For starters, any program in which a trainer uses harmful or distressing training methods (such as shock collars or physical force) is a program you want to run away from as fast as you can.
It’s also important to look at the quality of the trainers you will be paying for. What is their experience? How many hours of training do they have under their belt? What style of training do they use?
Anyone can claim to be a dog trainer. If you’re going to pay for an obedience class you want to ensure you’re getting a quality service.
There are cases in which hiring someone to help might be your best option. One example might be if you are dealing with dangerous behaviors such as biting. This is especially true if you have children or other pets in your home. Please seek the help of a professional ASAP.
However, if your dog doesn’t pose an immediate threat to anyone and you’re not confident in the programs available in your area, I say it’s 100% worth a shot to skip the obedience school and try training your dog yourself!
So, the answer to the age-old question “Do I need to take my dog to obedience school?” is…
I truly believe that everyone is capable of training their own dogs, except in cases of extreme behavioral issues. I’m so certain, in fact, that I’ve developed an entire program that teaches you step-by-step how to train your dog at home with kind and gentle methods.
Stick with the program and I know you’ll see the results you desire!
Best of luck,
~Doggy Dan 🙂