Group Class or Private Dog Training?

Most dogs and owners can benefit from studying with a good, professional trainer. Many trainers offer both group classes and private lessons. Which is the best choice? That depends entirely on your needs and the needs of your dog. Let’s examine the advantages of each option.

Private Lessons:

  • Private lessons can be scheduled at any time that is convenient for both trainer and client, unlike group classes which are held at set times each week.
  • Working privately with a trainer allows you to address specific behavioral issues and take as much time as you need with each topic.
  • Dogs that cannot safely work in a group that may include dogs of various sizes, dispositions, and genders can still benefit from professional training if private lessons are chosen.
  • Teams preparing for competition in conformation shows, agility, or other events may benefit most from private lessons,  which allow the trainer to focus completely on one dog and handler team for the time allotted.
  • Dogs with serious behavior problems may do best in private lessons, as it often takes significant time and effort just for a trainer to get to the bottom of why a problem occurs, let alone solve it.
  • Owners who feel they need extra time and attention from a trainer should choose private lessons rather than cut into others’ time with the trainer.

Group Classes

  • Most dogs can benefit from more controlled socialization with other dogs and humans. Group classes offer an opportunity to allow dogs to greet one another under the close watch of a professional trainer.
  • Distractions are a part of everyday life. Training with distractions present, like other dogs and pet parents, will help your dog later perform the same behaviors while distracted by his environment.
  • Group classes are usually less expensive than private lessons.
  • Group sessions mean each dog and handler are subject to less individual scrutiny.  For new trainers, it may be less embarrassing to make a mistake while in a group class with others making similar mistakes than to do so in a private lesson.
  • Watching other owners work with their dogs can serve as a good example for pet parents struggling to teach their dogs a particular behavior. Seeing something done well is often more illuminating than hearing a trainer’s description.

Whichever type of professional training you choose, one thing is certain: A skilled, kind, competent trainer can do almost any dog a world of good. Look for a trainer who shares your basic philosophy on dog training. Ask him or her these six questions. Then, once you’ve found a great match, enjoy the improved relationship with your dog and the quality time together.

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