In-Person Dog Classes: Are They Right for Every Dog?

In-Person Dog Classes: Are They Right for Every Dog?

By Christine D. Calder,
Calder Veterinary Behavior Services,

Dog classes can be beneficial for many dogs, but in-person classes may not be appropriate for every dog. There are various factors to consider when deciding if an in-person class is right for your dog.

1. Is your dog fearful or anxious? Dogs that are friendly, outgoing, and sociable with both dogs and people generally do well attending in-person classes. These dogs are more likely to enjoy interactions with other dogs and new people in a controlled and predictable environment. Fearful or anxious dogs often find in-person classes overwhelming and scary which means they are less likely to learn, you are less likely to learn, and their behavior could escalate over time into barking, lunging, growling, snapping, or biting.

2. What if my dog is aggressive? Dogs with a history of aggression, excessive barking, or lack of impulse control should not attend in-person classes. These dogs may require an evaluation by a veterinary behaviorist or a specialized behavior modification program with a qualified professional instead. Often online classes are best suited for these dogs where they and you can learn foundation behaviors in the safety of their own home.

3. What about puppies? Many in-person and online classes are designed for specific age groups. Puppies can benefit from early age-appropriate socialization in these classes as they learn critical social skills. Older dogs may require different types of class structure based on their age-related needs. When attending puppy socialization classes, it is important to make sure your puppy is not overwhelmed, has received age-appropriate vaccinations, and is free from obvious signs of disease (vomiting, diarrhea, runny noses, coughing, and skin lesions).

4. What about my dog’s overall health? Dogs with mobility issues, respiratory problems, or contagious disease should not attend in-person classes. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog has any health concerns and always consider your dog’s health and well-being when enrolling in classes. Online classes may be more appropriate for these dogs once all medical conditions have been addressed by your veterinarian.

5.  What if my dog has never attended training classes before? Dogs with little to no previous training can still benefit from classes. However, you may want to start with an online class or private training session first. The behaviors and skills that a dog needs to learn can vary, and there really is not a “one size fits all” to training. Dog training is more about training the human than it is the dog. This means you are the student and not your dog. During in-person classes, it can sometimes be difficult to receive the individualized personal attention needed, therefore an individual online class or one-on-one training may be more appropriate.  

Dog classes can be beneficial for many dogs, but it is important to consider the above factors when deciding if an in-person class is right for your dog. Consulting with a qualified professional such as a veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, or certified dog trainer can help you make the informed decision of which type of class may be best for your dog.

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