You are having a training or behaviour struggle with your dog and start looking for help.
There are lots of different options and you are wondering if classes or 1-2-1s would be the best option for you and your dog.
Getting the right support is important as the wrong service may leave you feeling deflated at a lack of progress, or worse, make the struggle you are having worse.
You may have already tried one without success and want to know if the other will be better.
In this article we are going to answer:
Struggles you can resolve in classes are things like:
– Walk nicely on a lead without pulling.
– Coming back when you call them.
– Learning to focus around distractions, like people and dogs.
– Obedience like sit, down and stay.
A group class is often held in a hall or doggy daycare and will consist of a number of dogs and their humans working through a curriculum of skills at the same time.
They usually cover all the basic life skills like recall, loose lead walking and obedience as well as things like confidence, calmness and impulse control.
Classes take place each week so you gradually progress over time.
The class trainer will set an exercise and then come around to coach teams individually to help them succeed. This is because dogs will often be at different levels and need the exercise tailored to where they are at.
Pros of Group Classes:
– Working around distractions – The opportunity to practise your training around other dogs and people.
– Community – Have the support of peers and make friends with like minded people.
– A Range Of Skills – Work on lots of different life skills, a great place to start if you haven’t done much training before.
– Budget Friendly – Less expensive than 1-2-1 support.
Cons of Group Classes:
– Dog Friendly Only – Classes won’t be suitable if your dog is not dog and people friendly, they may also be overwhelming for anxious dogs.
– Not Specific – If you only have one main training struggle or only want to focus on one area then it is unlikely that will happen in classes as they teach a broad range of skills.
– Training Only – Classes will not help with behavioural struggles like reactivity and aggression or separation anxiety.
– Not Flexible – They are held at the same time each week in a set location.
It’s a behaviourists job to look over every aspect of your dog’s behaviour and life. This allows them to build up a 1-2-1s can cover both training and behaviour struggles.
If you aren’t sure which you need you can read more here: Training or Behaviour?
Areas 1-2-1’s can help fix:
– Separation Struggles
– Reactivity or Aggression
– Resource Gaurding
– Loose Lead Walking
– Anything you like!
Work one on one with a trainer, to hone in on specific struggles and get 100% personalised help.
1-2-1s are where a trainer comes out to you in your home or meets you somewhere relevant to your struggle to teach and coach you to train your dog.
They will then work with you over a number of sessions to achieve success with your dog and resolve your dog’s struggle.
Pros of 1-2-1 Sessions :
– Get Faster Results – If you are looking to just work on one skill you will often get faster results with a 1-2-1 package, there is also a higher level of support.
– Flexible – Can take place and a time and location that works for you and your dog.
– Specific – Can resolve any issue whether that’s training or behaviour related.
– No Restrictions – It does not matter if your dog is social or not as it will be just for them.
Cons of 1-2-1 Sessions:
– Less community – You don’t get the chance to meet others at class, although a good trainer will often have an online community for you to join too.
– Practise Around Distractions – You don’t get the benefit of working around other dogs and people in a structured environment to proof your training.
– More Expensive – 1-2-1 training is more expensive, although sometimes can work out cheaper if you need less sessions as they are more specific.
So now you’ve decided if 1-2-1 sessions or group classes are a better fit for you are you pup, how can you ensure you are choosing a good service.
When searching the internet for help, it’s a great idea to compare services against each other to find the best option.
A good 1-2-1 trainer or group classes should have plenty of great reviews. Look for a service that has a fair amount of reviews (100+).
Also be sure to check the quality of reviews.
Are people leaving detailed reviews and testimonials of their great experience with the service, or are they simply just hitting the 5 star button…
Detailed reviews mean previous customers have taken the time and effort to highlight what a great service is provided. Which speaks dividends for that service!
Have a chat!
It is important to find a trainer and group class that you will fit into!
Any good service will be happy to speak over the phone in a promptly manner to discuss all about their service.
Make sure to ask questions that will help you decide if they will be the right choice for you, such as:
– How many dogs will be in the class? 6-8 is about right, enough that you will have good group dynamics but not so many you won’t get enough personal coaching.
– What happens if my dog gets it wrong? Ensuring they use methods you are comfortable with is essential.
– How long will it take to resolve my struggle? Training and behaviour change is not an overnight process, if they say one session, take your money and run.
– What support is available? Both classes and 1-2-1 training will need extra support such as online videos, written plans, additional sessions and ongoing communication. Find out what this looks like.
We hope this article has helped you understand how classes and 1-2-1 training differ.
As a rule of thumb if you have a behaviour struggle or only one thing to work on with your dog, 1-2-1 training will be quickest and most effective.
Also, if you have limited time or don’t drive 1-2-1 sessions will probably be more convenient for you.
However if you are looking to train your dog in a number of areas and they are social classes are a great option.
They will teach you and your dog many things and help your dog learn to focus on you around other dogs and people, as well as the opportunity to make friends with other like minded dog owners.
What If I Like The Idea Of Both?
Then do both!
This is actually a great option for many puppy and dog owners.
Puppies often have some struggles that need some personalised expert help at home, such as puppy biting or separation struggles, but would also benefit from wider training in a group environment.
Also, if you have a teen dog that really struggles around other dogs, starting off with some 1-2-1s to get your dog on track before joining a group class can be game changing.
Equally you may be in classes and come across a particular skill you are struggling to make progress with, a 1-2-1 or two as a top up might help you get past that block and get back on track.
There may also be some behavioural cases where both will help your dog make progress faster. For example Separation Anxiety needs very specific training to resolve it, but classes would help boost your dog’s confidence and learn other skills that will contribute towards resolving separation anxiety.
Classes cover a range of training skills and must be the right environment for your dog to learn.
1-2-1s are essential for behaviour struggles, but can also make training more convenient and faster.
Still not sure?
Give us a call on 0292120013 and we can book in a free mini phone consultation to find out if classes or 1-2-1 sessions will be best for your dogs struggle.
You are having a problem with your dog’s behaviour and you can’t fix it. So you start to look for someone who can.
When you start asking around for recommendations, or researching online some people will say you need a dog trainer and some will say you need a behaviourist. Leaving you confused as to which one you need.
It’s important to find the right support for you and your pooch. Getting it wrong at best may be ineffective and waste your money; at worst may make the problem even worse.
Even if you are only having a small struggle, it is better to act sooner rather than later. Many behavioural problems will only get worse over time without intervention.
Is this article we are going to answer:
A trainer is someone who works with you and your dog over a period of time, to teach you how to get your dog to do things, such as:
They will break training down into achievable steps and coach you through achieving success in the skill you want.
You will receive help to understand how to communicate with your dog, so your dog reliably does as you ask.
Trainers work over multiple sessions.
A training session usually involves meeting with your trainer and practicing training exercises with your pup. They will give you feedback in real time to help you and your dog be more successful.
Often your first session will be in an environment where your dog is able to listen and focus on you. Quickly sessions progress to real life environments, such as: parks or locations where you are experiencing the problem.
Most dogs can behave and do the training exercises in your living room, but it can be harder to get your canine companion to cooperate out and about.
The success of training can often hinge on small changes in what you are doing.
A trainer will focus on areas of training such as timing, reward placement and mechanics (which is just a fancy word for what you do with your hands and body).
Pros of a trainer:
– Provides ongoing support and accountability.
– Will take your training into the real world and help you implement it.
– Teaches you to be a trainer for your dog.
Cons of a trainer:
– Won’t be able to resolve your problem if it is behavioural.
– They don’t look at the whole picture including health, diet and lifestyle.
– Rarely gives detailed reports or plans.
It’s a behaviourists job to look over every aspect of your dog’s behaviour and life. This allows them to build up a picture and get to understand what’s going on that is causing the behavioural problem.
This is needed for struggles such as:
A behaviourist will start with your dog’s health. This will likely look like a vet visit to assess your dog for underlying health conditions and pain.
If one of these things is responsible for your dog’s behaviour, no amount of training will make it go away so it’s the best place to start.
Once your dog has a clean bill of health they will dive into assessing your dog and identifying the problem.
They will look at areas of your dog’s lifestyle such as history, diet, routines, stress and sleep.
Often, there needs to be lifestyle changes for your dog, accompanied by training, to resolve their behaviour.
Practice Makes Permanent
They won’t need to ‘see the behaviour in action’.
If you already have some videos showing the behaviour it can be helpful to share them. But a behaviourist won’t need you to recreate the behaviour for them to help.
They will believe what you describe, and ask lots of questions to understand what’s going on.
This is because the more your dog practices a behaviour the stronger it becomes, and the more likely it is to happen more frequently or even escalate.
Using all this information they will describe their view of what’s going on and help you understand your dog’s behaviour.
The behaviourist will then send you a write up of your appointment along with a behaviour modification plan.
The write up will detail what you discussed during the appointment, and the behaviour modification plan will tell you what needs to be done to resolve the problem.
Lifestyle Changes – Changing certain aspects of your dogs lifestyle can alleviate the behaviour problem.
Management – Preventing your dog doing the behaviour so it doesn’t get worse.
Medication – Some dogs will require medication to help them resolve their struggles, alongside training.
Counter Conditioning – Changing your dogs emotional response towards something so its comfortable with it.
Desensitising – Slowly getting your dog used to something.
Training – Teaching new behaviours that support the behaviour you do want from your dog.
If you are unable to change anything or spend time implementing your plan you are unlikely to see results.
Even the worlds best dog trainer or behaviourist won’t be able to help you if you aren’t open to listening to them and putting into practice what they show you.
Pros of a behaviourst :
– A higher level of knowledge on behavioral problems.
– Can identify the root cause of the problem.
– Provide detailed plans.
Cons of a behaviourist:
– Can leave you without ongoing support.
– Don’t always offer practical sessions.
– Costly to work with over multiple sessions.
One of the most important things you can look for in a trainer or a behaviourist is someone that is going to support you on your journey.
Whether you are working on getting your dog to stop chasing squirrels or not lunge and bark at other dogs, there will be highs and lows, struggles and celebrations.
Having someone on your team that’s available to talk these through and help you overcome hiccups is invaluable.
If you’re having a bad day, you need someone to listen.
Training a dog is not a linear process, it’s inevitable that there will be setbacks and the plan will need adjusting, or you might forget exactly how to do something.
Additionally, and hopefully, your dog will change!
When you begin training, your dog may be a novice at the exercises, as they improve they will need the training to adapt with them.
Having regular sessions so your dog can be assessed as you progress is essential to success.
The other benefit to ongoing support is someone to keep you on track.
Just like you won’t lose weight if you don’t work out, your dog’s behaviour won’t improve if you don’t consistently do the training.
Having a personal trainer makes that easier!
Someone who’s going to check in with you and ask if you’ve done the homework, coach you to improve and progress.
Which came first: The chicken or the egg?
Is a lack of training causing your dog’s behaviour? Or is an underlying behaviour problem getting in the way of your training progressing?
This can be a tricky question to answer, but essentially:
When you reach out to a dog trainer or a behaviourist they are going to have a short conversation with you and ask you some questions before taking a booking from you.
These questions will help them identify what’s going on and if they feel you need different support they will tell you and refer you on to the right service.
If they offer both services, they will put you on the most relevant programme.
Half a dozen of one, half a dozen of the other.
Unless you are having a very straightforward training issue, it’s likely having both behaviour and training support will be beneficial.
A behaviourist to assess your dog and produce the plan to resolve the behaviour, and a trainer to help you implement it and support you along the way.
It is possible to find a person, or team, that has the expertise as both a behaviour expert and practical trainer.
They are likely to offer programmes that include an assessment and then ongoing sessions for as long as you will need the support to get the results you are looking for.
Programmes are the best way to work with a professional as they offer all elements of what makes behaviour change successful.
Instead of giving you just part of the process and then leaving you wondering why it hasn’t worked.
Ask questions such as:
– Do you do an assessment and provide a written plan?
– Will you come out and show me the training exercises?
– Are any of the sessions out and about in the real world?
– How often will we have contact? Will you be available if I need support?
A trainer helps you teach skills to your dog, a behaviourist assesses and identifies the root cause of problems.
Often you need elements of both plus ongoing support to resolve behavioural problems.
Still not sure?
Give us a call on 0292120013 and we can book in a free mini phone consultation to find out if you need a dog trainer or a behaviourist.