When it comes to training dogs, maybe you’ve heard that it’s the owner who really needs to be trained. New dog mom Linda, from upstate New York, is quick to agree. She’s mom to pup Bailey, a 6 month old wheaten Cairn Terrier. Linda’s learned about training her dog from research and talking to experts, and Bailey’s caught on very quickly. After teaching the basics like crate training and house breaking, Linda and Bailey began puppy classes together.

How did you find a good puppy class for Bailey? What should an owner look for in a class?

I found a good puppy training class for Bailey by first talking with other dog owners then making phone calls to dog trainers. I knew what was important for Bailey and me, so I asked questions based on my goals of having a dog who listens and is obedient to my commands. One of the first situations I discovered in contacting trainers is that many appeared to be largely money driven. How did I learn that? They didn’t care about the age of my dog or the number of animals in a class. There were also the trainers who were too busy to talk to me but happy to have me enroll without knowledge of what we would be doing in class. A class should be age appropriate. Puppies are learning to socialize and it is much easier with other puppies in the same situation. Older dogs often have not had the opportunity to play around puppies so being with other older dogs may be challenging. Size can be an important factor. This depends on the trainer and how much room in available for a class but I have learned that 8 to 10 dogs in a class is quite large. I wanted a trainer that took an interest in our specific goals and needs, who would be interested in us as individuals. Fortunately by calling and meeting ahead of time, I found a trainer who is great. She asks what the class wants to work on, and is available in between classes if we have any problems or issues we need guidance on. As Bailey grew and responded to commands like sitting or barking by the door when she needed to go outside, I grew to trust her and allowed larger areas of the house for her to explore. She earned her way into being free to run around our home as time went on. For us that meant no mistakes on the carpet. If that happened, more gates went back into place until another week went by without an accident. Some people don’t want puppies on furniture or they prefer to keep them within certain rooms of the house. Those boundaries and guidelines need to be considered and taught in each situation.

What training styles work for Bailey? What do you notice that doesn’t work well with dogs?

All breeds are very unique but each breeds looks to a leader. Consistent training is the key with all dogs. Some require much more time and patience than others. Bailey follows commands easily once I learn what to do and say according to the trainers expertise.
I have observed that some dogs struggle with simple commands such as sitting because the owner is not consistent. Different owners have discussed problems in class which shows that they either are very lenient because they have young kids at home and think it’s cute when the dog eats food off the counter and don’t stop the behavior or they work and are tired at the end of the day and simply want to play with the puppy rather than give commands.
Check in next Wednesday where Linda will share some of Bailey’s challenges (like barking at shrubs!) and how she’s learned to handle them. We’d love to hear your training tips and experiences too!