There may be more reasons 'for' or 'against' but I would like to just pay particular attention to the
environment. Group obedience classes are a great training/proofing environment but not a good
learning/teaching environment. As a trainer at a group obedience center I am very aware of this and
always highlight this point in every beginner teaching/learning level class. I highlight the point that in the
very beginning learning/teaching phase we are simply giving you the tools at the class but the
responsibility lies with YOU to do the homework in a zero distraction environment to begin with. For
some people this is no problem, however, others may find this difficult, fall behind and lose confidence.
Some people just require extra help and there is no shame in that, and with a little bit of extra
private help they would be in a much better position for success. Why do some people struggle?
Some may have difficulties in understanding how dogs learn and transition to training, others
struggle with engagement and wrestle with dogs that are far more interested in everything else but
their owner. This is generally because the dogs have become accustomed to being inadvertently
rewarded by environmental factors rather than their own handler. I believe there are a multitude of
reasons which contribute to some people losing confidence, and all of which could be addressed
with a little extra private 'one on one' help.
So although I see group obedience as fundamentally important for a whole host of reasons, I also
see private tuition, particularly for early teaching fundamentally advantageous for a selection of
people and dogs.
White Collar Dog Training and Behaviour is all about preventing problems, and loves to focus on
giving people the right tools, but more importantly, giving them the tools at the right time; taking full
advantage of the Critical Period of Socialisation (up to 16 weeks of age). So my advice to first time
dog owners, or people who are perhaps a little unsure about their abilities: if there is doubt, then
there is no doubt, commission some early private tuition and hit the ground running. You'll end up top
of the class when you transition to group obedience! If your already struggling with group
obedience and feel like your getting left behind, get some private assistance, you'll be amazed what
you'll pick up in a short space of time and perhaps then you'll get some better value from your
group obedience sessions.
Are group classes for me?
* Socialisation, and not just for your dog!
* Agility (hopefully, if your center offers it?).
* Great value price.
* Great distraction training/proofing environment.
* Different group obedience classes may specialise in different outcomes or purpose for the
By Gordon Gill
21st June 2016
They should be. It's no secret that here at White Collar I'm an advocate of group obedience
classes, however, I firmly believe that some people need a little extra private help, especially in the
* The pace of the class is dictated by the clock.
* It's a training/proofing environment, not a learning/teaching environment.
* It may not take place at a time and location that suits you.
* Unless it's pre paid, incentive to attend is low; ACCOUNTABILITY and $$$ is a great
* Large variances in techniques or orientation of purpose offerred by different group
obedience centers. They are not all focussed on 'lifestyle' obedience. So you may have to
hunt around to find the right one, losing valuable time.
...and the disadvantages?
So lets analyse, what are the advantages of group classes?
dogs. So if you find the right one that can be great for you.
Dog Behaviour Specialist
Nationally Accredited Dog Trainer