CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  Are group training classes good for you or your pet?  Jill Haley Rose is the owner of Paws of Nature Family Dog Training and Melissa Kielbasa is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and they shared tips.Puppy Basics to Specialty Classes – how to find the right class1) Get Referrals

  •   Friends, family, neighbors – happy clients
  • Ask your veterinarian

2) Ask Questions

  •   What is their training methodology?

Be specific – What will happen when my dog gets it right? What will happen if my dog gets it wrong?

  • What equipment do they use or want you to use to train and manage your dog?

3) Observe a class

  •   Do the students seem attentive and engaged with their dogs?
  • Does the instructor speak clearly and able to explain the exercises in laymen’s terms?
  •  Is the instructor physically manhandling the dogs? Yelling at or scaring the dogs?

Go with your gut instinct, if what you are observing makes you uncomfortable, do not take your dog there.

  •  Is the facility clean or does it look dirty and have excessive odors?

Puppy Basics to Specialty Classes – where to start?

  • Puppy Kindergarten – usually for dogs no older than 4 to 5 months of age. May or may not include puppy play groups,depending on the class. Dogs are at a very critical learning and socialization development. Instructor must be very skilled on setting up pups to have good experiences during classes, especially if play time is allowed. Must always be mindful of more sensitive or fearful pups, as well as over confident and boisterous pups.
  • Basic – Any age dog – usually over 4 to 5 months, that hasn’t exhibitted any aggressive behaviors towards other dogs or people. Almost all dogs need to start here or continue here after puppy class.
  • Intermediate to Advanced manners – Foundation in place, now it’s time to work around real life situations and really put those skills to the test.
  • Agility – Teach your dog how to climb in, up, around, and over a variety of obstacles, either for fun or competitively.
  • Nosework – Pet dogs don’t have to rely much on their extraordinary scenting ability anymore since their humans provide all their needs. This class teaches the dog how to exclusively find a hidden scent to earn rewards using their nose only. Very exhausting work for most dogs.
  • Canine Good Citizen – Earn the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate by completeing this class and passing the final test. Can qualify you for lower home owner’s insurance and more.