Immediately after bringing a dog into your home, you should consider enrolling her in a dog obedience school. The earlier you and your puppy go through a training program the better, as it will smooth the adjustment and help with the bonding and socialization process. Remember that you will be attending classes with your dog, so choose a school that provides a teaching style and environment that puts you both at ease. Establishing a good relationship with your dog early will set the tone for the rest of your time together, and give you the tools for a long and happy friendship.
A great first step toward finding a school in your area is soliciting recommendations from other dog owners and veterinarians. Talk to people at your park about their experiences with the companion dog obedience school they used. Ask the staff at your local veterinary clinic if there are any particular schools that they have used personally or that have been recommended by clients. In high population areas, search the Internet for local obedience school rankings.
Compile the information into a list of possible companion dog obedience schools and arrange visits to each of them. Speak to the administrators and trainers to get a sense of the methods they employ and the average class size. Many schools will provide client references upon request, and it would be a good idea to contact past clients for more information. Take the time to tour the facilities while you are there- well-kept grounds are good indicators of a quality program.
Be aware of what to expect when your dog begins classes. The age and breed of your dog may indicate how well they respond to training and which types of classes would benefit them the most. As a rule, puppies do well in-group classes, and groups provide necessary socialization training. If you adopted an older dog or a dog with a history of behavioral problems, finding a trainer who will work with your dog individually may yield the best results. There are classes that cater to specific breeds, and for the difficult to train, this is the best option.
The cost of dog obedience school varies wildly by geographical area. If dog obedience school cost is a factor in your decision, group classes, which average from $40-$200 for a series are generally the most economical. Individual hour-long training lessons range in price from $25 to well over $100 per session. In some areas, local nonprofits like the ASPCA offer lower cost classes than private providers. While class costs can be significant, the initial investment in solid training is important in the end.
Before beginning a class, make sure that your expectations are reasonable. Most obedience schools do not take time to teach dogs tricks, but focus on establishing an understanding between a dog and their human. For young puppies, obedience school may be the place where housebreaking starts, but reinforcement must continue at home. A good dog obedience school will teach you and your dog the basics of good behavior, and provide a foundation for a long, happy relationship.