Michael R. asked:
How effective are Group Dog Training Classes?
Group dog training classes are the very most ineffective way of training a dog! If you really want to teach any behaviors the right way, private lessons is a necessity. The owner needs to have attention from his dog in order to communicate properly which behaviors are worth while doing- and which ones are not. That is how training starts! Just go watch a group training class! How much attention does the owner receive from his dog? All the dog wants is to go and play (or fight) with the other dogs! As a result, the owner is applying force of some kind (leash janking) to get the dog’s attention. As the desire to see the other dogs in the class is very high, it will take a great amount of force to get the dog’s attention.
The treat at this time will NOT be winning against the desire to “go”.
If aversives really get the dog’s attention, we should ask ourselves: How does my dog feel now? Is he going to like this place? Is he going to like ME after all that? Is he going to be willing to display behaviors that can be positively reinforced and successfully learned? ….. probably not!
He is going to hate this place, he will hate you, and therefore cares less about the treats you were planning on using to reward him with.
If, and that is only if, you really want to train your dog to respond to signals that are connected to a specific behavior, you have to make a different plan!
If you are convinced that Pet Store chains can provide effective dog training, think twice! The instructor has probably never trained a dog. He has been through an online course, no on hands experience (few exceptions granted).