Some people could not live without their obedience club and others don’t feel that way at all.
You can be sure like everything else, there are great clubs and not so great clubs. I have worked with quite a few, presenting seminars to members and instructors and instructor training too and my experiences have been great.
The actual club is not what I am talking about here though, I want to cover whether I think the obedience club is right for your dog.
Dogs that will do well in Obedience Clubs
If you have a dog that is relaxed and calm around other dogs and has some good food motivation, a good Obedience Club will probably work well for you.
If you are interested in looking into trialling in Obedience or Rally for fun and would like to try your hand at this and your dog is not that interested in other dogs and food motivated, then the Obedience Club can be a great place for you to go too.
Dogs that do not do well in Obedience Clubs
I will start with saying that, the dogs I am going to talk about “may” do OK, but I don’t feel this is the best path to take from the start.
Obedience instructors are often volunteering and have a whole class to consider, they may not be Behaviour Specialists and the class environment may not be the best place to deal with an aggressive, fearful or highly overstimulated dog.
Dogs with aggressive behaviours towards people or other dogs may be a liability both for the club and the owner.
These dogs may not benefit from this environment and it will be best to consult with an experienced Behaviourist that can start the rehabilitation process.
Down the track this dog may be able to join the class once the issues are under control.
Dogs with very little interest in food may also be very slow to progress through some classes, especially those that predominantly use food rewards to teach and reinforce behaviours.
These dogs can really benefit from going through some engagement training perhaps with a private coach to generate some engagement and motivation in your dog without your dog being distracted by the other dogs in the class.
Dogs that resource guard you or food should also consult with an experienced behaviourist before you place this dog in a group class where it may guard you or the food.
Nervous or anxious dogs that have trouble regulating their emotions. These dogs should go through a program with an experienced behaviourist to help them stabilise their emotions. They may be able to enter a class down the track.
High drive dogs that need activity to keep them engaged can be overdriven in classes. That is not to say that these dogs may not “calm down” in class, it is that high drive dogs have the ability to be top performers when in drive, so we would want to encourage and develop this asset, and a class environment may not be best for that.
I am not at all saying that obedience clubs or instructors are incapable, in many cases they may be, but when trying to manage a group of dogs and people, and giving everyone equal attention, this may be challenging for even the best of us.
There could be insurance issues surrounding the training of aggressive dogs and other club members many feel at risk around your dog.
Overall this is likely not going to make you feel like you’re in the right place.
With these dogs we start in our private indoor training room so we can control the environment and keep everyone safe.
We avoid using parks and recreation areas and strangers’ dogs to test or work around, this is honestly very risky, and illegal as a dog displaying certain behaviours in public, even if the dog is in training, it is prohibited.
When you have a dog with a behaviour problem, maybe a serious one that is concerning or dangerous, it will not be easy to solve. No matter where you go or how you train.
So, give yourself and your dog the best chance at success and attend the right professional for your situation.