Why Join A Club?

By admin Posted in FAQ's /

Q: Why join a club? 

A: It’s where the trainer gets trained.

New trainers need to learn about the training equipment, how to fit a choke chain correctly, how to hold the leash, footwork, body language, commands and much more.

Obedience training should, amongst others, also teach how to teach the basics, when to click and treat, how to praise or to correct, to be consistent in training and the importance of timing. 

Good timing is very difficult to learn by yourself, with only a good book or videotape. The shorter the time between an act performed by the dog and the praise or correction administered for it, the more likely it will connect the two and the more readily the dog will learn. For example: a bee buzzing around a flower attracts a pup. He snaps at it and gets stung. This correction, given immediately, will prevent him from snapping at bees in future, but if he should do it again he will get the same response. (Consistency)

 Since dogs do not have human language skills it becomes important to be able to read your dog’s body language. Suppose you want to teach your dog not to chase cats. The least effective way would be to yell at the dog when it returns from chasing the cat. The second least effective way will be to yank the dog back when it starts to run after the cat. The most effective way will be to correct the dog for “thinking about chasing the cat.” Watch his body language and give a firm “Noooo”-command when his attention becomes focused on the cat and he is getting ready to move in the cat’s direction. 

Remember, at a club you learn how to train. You now need to apply what you have learnt and, if possible, practise it daily even if it is only for five or ten minutes at a time. You will be surprised to see how much progress your dog will make.

The home is ideal for training because it is familiar to the dog and it is possible to reduce the number of distractions. 

Home sessions need not follow a very rigid or formal pattern. Short sessions with a “free” every few minutes are all that is required. Remember that you are busy teaching and fixing commands or words all the time. Think of many opportunities during the day to teach these basic commands. So, when I feed Juno, she sits and barks before I place her food and then I stroke her while I repeat, “Good girl” a few times. Coyote, on the other hand, although much older and better trained, won’t bark for food but will do a “sit” followed by a “stand” before he is fed.

On the way to the shop to fetch the paper I teach a host of commands such as, “sit, wait, slow, stay,” etc. Coyote carries the paper home where they receive their “Good dog” rewards.

It is, however, important to be consistent when training at home. Do not give commands when you cannot attend to the dog’s reaction to that command and insist that it is done correctly. For example: Do not give an “out” command when the dog enters a room in the house and you are not ready to see to it that he leaves the room. Remember, to praise the dog the moment he moves away from you and is leaving the room.

At a club the instructor will not only be able to help you to establish authority over your dog and help you with your commands, tone of voice, body language, how to praise and correct effectively, etc. He will also be able to help you with your problems and you will be able to share happy times with your dog and new friends with similar interests.

 Books and videos cannot provide the immediate feedback and corrections to handling errors because you cannot see yourself making them.

Classes help because they provide an incentive to work with your dog regularly and very importantly it provides the controlled distractions needed to fix or proof his training so that he will obey no matter what is going on around you.

One evening, whilst looking for a missing cat, I suddenly realised that my dog had strayed across a busy road and was returning to me as cars were approaching. I was able to “down” him on the opposite pavement until the road was clear and he could return safely. That is what classes can do for you and your dog! 

Finally, when ready to join a club, spend some time going to different clubs and observe the way the instructors explain the training, how happily the dogs work and talk to other club members. Do not necessarily go to the nearest club or the one that is the cheapest. I like it when they invite you to join the first few classes for free before you are expected to join and pay.

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