Where should we be training ours dogs?
Perhaps every day of the week there will be a puppy or dog training class held somewhere in Dorset. Most of these will be in buildings of some shape or form. Nothing wrong with this approach at all, I have been there as a trainer myself. However, this post will examine the idea that this approach can be misleading, too clinical and not prepare the dog or owner for the reality of the outside environment.
As a dog trainer in Dorset I have done my time in the halls with puppy and dog training. I have seen the perfect recall done in the hall only to see the same dog outside totally ignore its owner. The dog with the perfect loose lead walking in the hall pull its owner back to the car. Of course these classes are to teach the owner the techniques which they are then supposed to practice away from the class.
Talking to clients at these classes it became clear that what they were learning in the hall they were having difficulty replicating outside in a variety of environments. A dog who demonstrated excellent recall and loose lead skills in the hall did not do the same outside and the owner quickly became frustrated and gave up with training.
Dogs do not generalise so what they learnt in the hall they have difficulty replicating in other areas. The owner must practice the techniques learnt at dog and puppy classes in a mixture of environments so the dog starts to get the picture, literally!!
Training Classes Outside
Based on my experiences of group dog training classes in the conventional hall I no longer train inside. All my training is done outside in a variety of environments. Initially a new client and their dog may struggle with the distractions, but these are the reality of taking the dog out.
For my Pet Gun dog training I have the use of a large ‘wild’ field and a more secure training area. New dogs attending there are sometimes very distracted and the owner struggles to maintain control. This is the reality of going to a new place. What I do is teach the owner techniques to raise their game to match the dog’s level of distraction. It is about building the confidence of the owner. Getting them to learn to read the environment and their dog. Most important it is about teaching them to be proactive in their leadership and decision making with regards to the dog and never be in a reactive situation. When you are being reactive then the dog starts making choices and that never ends well.
You cannot teach this in a hall and yet this is what the owner and dog will face when they go out into the parks and woods and no trainer is there.
Where to Train
The training facility I have is only a small part of the work I do through Muttley Solutions. Through the week I meet clients on a one to one basis and we will meet at different locations. I have a lot of locations I use and vary the time depending on the distraction level I require.
An example is local to where I live. If I am doing a puppy or dog training class for any clients who live near Merley, Oakley or Canford Magna then I will use Fenners Park .
I train my own dog there so know when its busy or not with other dogs and I adjust meeting the client depending on the distraction level I need. I can teach recall training on and off lead work and the client is doing it in a live environment with a trainer on a hand to offer support.
All those trainers who use the halls are the bread and butter of dog training and offer a valuable service. What clients need to consider is once they have a grounding in this environment then have a couple of sessions with a trainer who specialises in raising the bar for both the dog and owner in a real world setting.
Of course some will see a downside to only training outside, the weather. Nice to be in a dry hall in winter. However, I train outside all year around and the only weather so far to stop me training is the heat. We don’t only walk our dogs on a perfect day so we shouldn’t train them that way.