Being prepared for class
- Class is a distracting environment for most dogs so it's best to bring high value treats to help maintain your dog's attention. What your dog will work for at home may not cut it when he's trying to learn new skills in a room full of dogs. Generally the most high value treats are small, soft and smelly - think cheese, hot dog, sausage, roast chicken cut into pea-sized bits. When dogs are learning something new we need to give them lots of small rewards to let them know when they're on track, so at least a cup or two of treats is best depending on the size of your dog. It's better to bring too many treats than run out halfway through class!
- It's not recommended to starve your dog before class - if your rewards are high enough in value, your dog will work for them if she's hungry or not. In fact, hungry dogs have more trouble concentrating! It's best to factor training treats into your dog's total food intake, so if your dog is due for her regular meal before class it's a good idea to reduce it by half.
- A clicker is recommended but not compulsory for class. For the most part, dogs trained with the clicker learn faster because they get consistent feedback for performing the correct behaviour. If you don't have a clicker, they are available to purchase at class.
- A treat pouch is a good idea to keep your treats easily accessible, keep your hands free, and avoid wasting time fumbling with pockets or plastic bags.
Please take a moment to read the class rules - repeated failure to comply may result in expulsion without refund.
- Unless instructed otherwise, dogs must be on leash at all times. The leash should be attached to a flat collar, Martingale, harness or head halter and equipment will be checked for safety and correct fitting.
- Students should keep a respectful distance between dogs at all times, including before and after class - not all dogs are comfortable with other dogs in their space, especially on-lead, and even friendly on-leash greetings can cause frustration and reactivity between dogs. Move away from other dogs immediately if instructed to do so.
- Please encourage your dog to toilet outside before class - you are responsible for immediately cleaning up any mess your dog makes in the building or grounds.
- Unless instructed otherwise, dogs must be handled by a person over 16 (or over 18 for DINOS classes) or over 12 with adult supervision. This is to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in the class. Children are encouraged to get involved with the training of the family dog, but their safety and conduct is the responsibility of parents at all times. Children under 8 should be accompanied by two adults, one to supervise the dog and one to supervise the child.
- You will be instructed on how to deal with problem behaviours that may arise during class, and we ask that you refrain from physically disciplining or shouting at your own, or other people's dogs.
- Any behavioural issues that may disrupt the class or compromise safety must be disclosed before beginning classes - if such issues become apparent once classes have begun, we may ask that you attend private lessons or DINOS classes until the behaviour is resolved before attending another class. No refunds will be given if behavioural issues are not disclosed and we reserve the right to exclude dogs from classes for which they may not be suited.
- Refunds or credit for uncompleted classes will only be provided in case of serious illness or bereavement. If for some reason you need to cancel your registration for a class, please do so before the first lesson so we are able to offer your place to someone else. Class sizes are limited in order to give individual attention to each dog/handler team, and to keep the environment as low-distraction as possible.
Greetings between dogs
On leash greetings between dogs are not encouraged in class time for several reasons:
- Even if you know your dog is happy to greet other dogs, you can't be sure that unknown dogs are happy to have your dog in their personal space.
- Leashes prevent dogs from retreating to avoid conflict, so can cause some dogs to behave aggressively. An eager dog pulling forward on a leash can also appear threatening to an uncertain dog, as it makes them lean forward against leash pressure.
- Leashes can become tangled, causing fights to break out.
- Even successful on-leash greetings can be problematic - if both dogs greet happily, your dog will be more likely to pull towards on-leash dogs in the future in the hope of being able to play. This is inconvenient for you and potentially dangerous for your dog. It can also cause frustration for your dog when he can't go up to other dogs, which in turn can lead to reactivity and provoke aggression from other dogs.
- If you have brought your dog to class to be better socialised around other dogs, the best thing you can teach him is to ignore them as long as he is leashed. If you must have your dog greet other dogs, first make sure that your dog, the other dog's handler and the other dog are all happy for a greeting to take place. Keep interactions short (several seconds is enough time for both dogs to gather information), and only allow dogs to greet outside of the class venue, preferably after class. While in class, your dog needs to focus on you. If your dog would benefit from making new friends, you are encouraged to organise play dates outside of class.