Since winter makes outdoor fun and games a challenge, this can be the perfect time to sign up for an indoor training class. Most facilities have climate controlled areas that also allow for a romp when the dogs have finished their drills.
Ask your veterinarian for recommendations. For the most benefit, you need to be with your dog for the training. A “send away” may train your dog to obey and follow the direction of the trainer, but you need your dog to mind you, too. Dog training classes teach owners as much as they teach the dog.
What to Look for in an Indoor Training Class
Look for a training class that offers different levels. Some train for competition sports, and others for fun matches, so be sure you know what you want out of the class before you sign up. Also ask for references, and request to watch a class to see how the trainer (and other dogs and owners) behave. You want the dogs and the owners to have fun, without any fear or scary techniques being used.
Ask if the trainer has certification and what that means. There are different kinds and these are not nationally regulated so anyone can “say” they’re a trainer. Look for those who state they are “positive” trainers who use reward-based training. That means they reward dogs for doing the right thing, rather than looking for mistakes to punish. After all, once training is done you want your dog to still love you.
Pet Training Organizations
Some organizations to check out for trainers include the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the International Association of Animal Behavior Associates, and National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors. You can also check with the American Kennel Club site for dog sports and clubs that sponsor training activities.
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.