Dog Classes

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#1
Ok, so I've got a fantastic chance to start teaching night dog classes at a new Dog Daycare. Which, I'm so excited for since I absolutely love teaching. I've got a lot of class ideas and I have a format outlines but I figured I would throw it out to the Chaz hive mind:

~What would you like to see in Puppy class and different levels of Dog Obedience classes?

~Is there something that you've experienced that either made you very happy or immediately turned you away?

~What are some fun (learning) games you've played in classes that you've enjoyed?

~And finally, what would be your ideal class? Set up, what was gone over, etc.
 

Elrohwen

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#2
1. For puppy classes, I would like to see more exposure to different things. Specifically surfaces, wobble boards, etc. Maybe some pet people would think that was just agility stuff, but I think it's useful for any puppy. We spent too much time on sit and down, which most people will figure out eventually anyway with a little time and practice. But not everybody has FitPaws stuff and wobble boards at home, or people on crutches or wheelchairs (something my training facility has, but saves for the therapy dog class).

2. I've been turned off by classes where the trainers weren't enthusastic and positive about their human students. I don't want to go to class to be told how poorly I'm doing, because I wouldn't be there if I wasn't trying.

I love classes where the trainers modify things to fit different dogs in the class who have different needs or abilities.

3. We've played fun impulse control games, like putting dogs on stays and bouncing balls, or setting out toys that move and make noise.

Another favorite is recall races once the dogs would recall next to another dog. Two dogs at a time raced against each other until a winner was declared.

Another favorite was Rally relay races. We did a short rally course in a straight line, maybe 5-7 signs. Each pair went through the course and the next pair could start as soon as they crossed the finish line. There was one instructor for each team and there was always heavy cheating going on as instructors tried to distract dogs on the oppsite team. lol

4. Ideal class is tricky, since it depends on what we're learning and how advanced everyone is. In certain activities at this point I like a bit more freedom to train how I want, but in beginner classes I want a lot more individual instruction and direction. I like when the class keeps moving at a good pace, because I have a dog who gets jacked up in classes and bores quickly.
 

Locke

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#3
All of what Elrohwen said.


The last class I took was pretty bad.We did the same exercises for the same behaviours every week. Example: Loose leash walking in a circle, stop/sit/change pace when told. Change direction. EVERY WEEK! It was terribly boring.
 

Kat09Tails

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#4
Really for me it would depend on the audience. Some people are happy to just use puppy class to build up distraction tolerances and meet new people. Some folks just want a class where they can stumble through the mechanics with a dog treat.

For my ideal new to dogs and dog training class it would be dogless first - to talk about the mechanics, methodology, and philosophy of the course with the people. Then it would put these ideas into practice with the dog. Then repeat and measure progress with homework.

Things that have bothered me in other classes.

Class encouraged forcing for results.
Class didn't speak to the management piece of living with a dog.
Didn't speak to problem prevention.
Class allowed entire families (including young children) for one dog. Dog was confused - people were unfocused- it was a disaster.
 

*blackrose

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#5
3rding Elrohwen!

Also, some of my own opinions:

~Is there something that you've experienced that either made you very happy or immediately turned you away?
I really dislike it when an instructor keeps everyone at the same pace. Maybe I shouldn't be, because I know how difficult it is to just lesson plan, let alone lesson plan for handlers and dogs that learn at various paces, but when I have a puppy that is holding a long distance down/stay for 30 seconds because he's been doing it for his food from Day One, I don't want to be criticized for "moving too fast" when I don't just stand one step in front of his nose and instead I'm standing at the end of the leash. I don't want to be chastised for working on something other than "sit" for 5 minutes purely because the Great Dane puppy two dogs down still doesn't quite get it even though my puppy is starting to get bored and check out because she KNOWS how to sit. How you would fix this in a setting where you are stretched thin and don't get to know the dogs/handlers personally, I don't know...but that has always bothered me. Dogs aren't cookie dough, nor are their handlers, and I don't know why instruction must always be so cookie cutter-esque.

I loved getting constructive criticism on my handling/posture/movements. Abrams' basic obedience class was the first time I had ever been in a class that actually cared about that and it was refreshing to be critiqued on it.

I don't know if I'd have stayed in a class where the instructor wasn't good at, well, instructing. Not only explaining how to do a task, but being encouraging and polite with the handlers who are trying their best, even if they aren't quite as smart as their dog is. LOL

~What are some fun (learning) games you've played in classes that you've enjoyed?
Abrams' most favorite was when he got to play with agility equipment, although I wouldn't say that was a learning game so to speak. It definitely showed which dogs were environmentally sensitive and which ones weren't. LOL I really liked it when we had a mock rally course that we got to go through. Helped exemplify that just because your dog knows how to sit when you stop doesn't mean he's not going to then immediately get up and grab the cone to carry with him. (Not Abrams, but another dog in the class did! Hahaha!)

I will say I never cared for the "pass the puppy" that Petsmart did/does. I'd like to be able to control my puppies interaction with strangers, thank you very much, not just pass him around like a hot potato.

~And finally, what would be your ideal class? Set up, what was gone over, etc.
Biggest thing for me would be class size. I'd much prefer a moderate size class (5 or 6 dogs total) than a large one. And the ability to spread out so when we're sitting waiting for class to begin I don't have three other dogs sitting within two feet of me. But, basically, what Elrohwen said. LOL
 

pinkspore

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#6
I like classes where students are given some things to do with their dogs when the instructor is busy working with one team. Our first agility class years ago often involved everyone standing around while the instructor spent 15 minutes trying to coax one dog through a tunnel, which meant 15 minutes of clueless newbie me trying to keep my overstimulated spazdog engaged. Incorporating mat work and learning how to chill him out might have kept us in the sport.
 

Elrohwen

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#7
Oh, another fun game was musical chairs. Everybody heels around in a circle, doing changes of pace or direction when called, and then when the music stops you have to put your dog in a stay and find a chair. If the dog gets up, you have to go back and replace him, giving up your chair for the moment. For more advanced dogs the stay location would be far away, for more beginner dogs it would be closer to the chairs. And with more advanced dogs other players were allowed to try distracting them from the stay in order to steal chairs.
 

Elrohwen

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#8
I don't want to be chastised for working on something other than "sit" for 5 minutes purely because the Great Dane puppy two dogs down still doesn't quite get it even though my puppy is starting to get bored and check out because she KNOWS how to sit.
One thing I liked about the basic classes that I took is that they would teach us things to do while the dogs were bored or waiting, like nose touches, little tricks, etc. It was always ok to be doing your own thing if you had already mastered the exercise or your dog needed a break. It was also ok to be more advanced (leave your dog during a stay when nobody else was) or remedial (doing the stay on leash across the room, instead of in line with everybody).


I don't know if I'd have stayed in a class where the instructor wasn't good at, well, instructing. Not only explaining how to do a task, but being encouraging and polite with the handlers who are trying their best, even if they aren't quite as smart as their dog is. LOL
One of my agility instructors had the personality of a good kindergarden teacher. She was just so patient and so positive and so *nice* to every body. She was awesome. She never made anyone feel stupid, even if they made the same mistake 3 times in a row. They don't all have to be quite that sunny, but it does make for a nice class environment especially after a long day at work dealing with annoying people. lol
 
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#9
You guys are awesome!! All this stuff is really great to think about, I really appreciate it.

I really love the idea of teaching them things to do during down time.

I'm really excited for this! I love teaching and I've really discovered how much I really enjoy working with people and so far I've had a great retention of students at my current job. So I'm hoping it will carry over.

Any other ideas, tips or anything feel free to give them! I am all ears!
 

protodog

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#10
In a rally class, we played Dress Your Dog Rally on the last night. The course was laid out like a normal rally course, but a few of the signs had extra stuff included in them, such as Halt--Put Hat on Dog--Walk Around Dog or Call Front--Put Scarf on Dog--Finish Left--Halt. By each of the dress your dog signs with a box of things to choose from, so each dog ended up in a different "outfit."

The last sign before the finish was Halt--Smile for the Camera. The instructor took each team's picture and sent it to the handler. Here's the picture:
 
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skittledoo

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#11
I'm paying attention to the ideas given in here as well. I really like to keep my classes fun. We do work on regular stuff yes, but I like to have at least one fun game we can play per class. Here are a couple.

1.) egg on spoon race. Dog is in heel. Make teams. Plastic egg on spoon and they have to hold the egg in their leash hand. This one is a lot of fun.

2.) packing groceries. Have a table set up on one side of the room. Have bag and a bunch of stuff on the table. I like to use stuff dogs would be interested in... Treats, toys, chews etc. the idea is to walk the dog to the table. Load up the bag and heel back without the dog trying to get into the bag. You could even step that up a notch and turn it into a race with two tables too.

3.) red light/green light. This one can be stepped up a notch and turn into an opportunity to work on impulse control. Dogs and handlers are loose leash walking around the perimeter of room. When you red light they have to either sit or down their dogs (instructor choice). Last dog to sit/down is out. Dogs that are out have to go into the middle of the room and work on down stays while they are distracted by dogs walking around the room. You can even step it up a notch for more advanced students by including more distractions like walking around with teasers or dropping balls etc. last dog still is the winner.
 

samshine

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#12
One really important thing I like to see in puppy classes is passive restraint. http://www.puppymanners.com/puppaccino/passiverestraint_.asp

Positive training is great, and I use it 95%. But I think accepting restraint is an exception. Sometimes we have to do things to our dogs that they don't like, and if they flip out and go psycho if you try to restrain them it is horrible. During this exercise you handle the feet, ears, look in the mouth, handle the tail, etc. Makes a veterinary visit SO much less stressful for everyone.

Another thing we learned from one excellent class is to teach your dog to accept being tied out. Sometimes dogs flip out when we have to do this, and it's very likely some emergency or situation will call for it during your dog's life.
 

amberdyan

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#13
One really important thing I like to see in puppy classes is passive restraint. http://www.puppymanners.com/puppaccino/passiverestraint_.asp

Positive training is great, and I use it 95%. But I think accepting restraint is an exception. Sometimes we have to do things to our dogs that they don't like, and if they flip out and go psycho if you try to restrain them it is horrible. During this exercise you handle the feet, ears, look in the mouth, handle the tail, etc. Makes a veterinary visit SO much less stressful for everyone.

Another thing we learned from one excellent class is to teach your dog to accept being tied out. Sometimes dogs flip out when we have to do this, and it's very likely some emergency or situation will call for it during your dog's life.
Why can't this be positive as well? I've done tons of positive handling exercises with my dog, I don't see why you couldn't do this one by starting off applying light pressure and clicking and treating until the dog accepted it. Pretty sure if I tried to just pin Hugo until he accepted it I would be in for a long ride.

Anyway- I would definitely liked to have had more on reading my dog in a basic class. I had trouble telling when Hugo was shutdown because he didn't act like dogs I had read about on the internet so I was missing cues he was throwing that he was overwhelmed. I think it would have helped our relationship more in the beginning if I had been able to read his signals and communicate better.
 

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