Group classes can be great when you want to work on commands with distractions or want some in real time tips/corrections for you and your dog. But what happens if for some reason you can’t afford it (since many classes are over $100), you don’t have access to good trainers, or just don’t want to go to a group class (and private lessons aren’t an option). What are the alternatives?
Originally, books were the only alternative and there are many good training books out there. Some of these I covered in an earlier post however there are a number of other great books as well.
ABC Practical Guide to Dog Training by Steven Applebaum has a great section describing how dog owners often inadvertently train their dogs to do exactly what they didn’t want them to and a good overview of behavior modification. You might be able to teach your dog to “sit” or “shake a paw” without a good understanding of behavior modification but in order to address (or avoid) unwanted behaviors you need to know how animals learn (and use that to your advantage).
For a specific training program, it’s worth checking out
Family Friendly Dog Training – Six Week Program For You and Your Dog by Patricia McConnell and Aimee Moore. It’s intended for dogs 5 months or older and uses positive training methods to teach your dog all the basic commands that will make life easier (for both you and your dog).
Another option is DVDs…two I would really recommend are Brenda Aloff’s Fundamentals: Foundation Training for Every Dog (has great real world training sessions but DOES expend viewers to have a basic understanding of behavior modification) and Ian Dunbar’s Sirius Adult Training DVD (it has a section on to control a dog’s energy to enhance training that is particularly useful).
Of course thanks to the internet…there’s some great new options available as well. If you are just looking to address a specific behavior or training issue… Andrea Lambeth-Dugan of Infinite Journey Dog Training offers a consult and training program over the web for $30. I have actually used this service and I have to say she offered some really great solutions and a training program to address an issue with our pup.
Light of the Dog has an interesting option….they offer several videos and handouts for basic dog training, problems (eg. jumping), body language or tricks. For $20 you can have unrestricted access to the course content for 30 days. Personally, I have yet to try this option but it does sound like an interesting concept. The downside is (like the books/DVD option) it doesn’t provide any feedback on your strengths/weakness in your own training.
Distance training programs offer a more interactive approach. I have yet to try Fenzi Dog Sports Academy (I would love to because I have no trainers that teach tracking in my area) but they offer an amazing variety of courses. From nosework to agility they cover a lot of topics…all courses are taught by qualified instructors and….depending on the enrollment level you choose, classes can be interactive (with actual feedback given). Unfortunately, this class type is not cheap…$260 for a six week class.
Do you know of any online classes I may have missed? Leave a comment and let me know!