TRAINING DONE DIFFERENTLY
I have recently decided to forego individual lessons that most dog trainers offer. My most popular service has been Group Training and, as far as I am aware, no one else offers anything quite like this.
This is not a group class. Group Training is more like a training club. Each dog and handler have their own specific goals. Though many students are working towards the same goal, everyone’s experience is different. Some dogs are working on dog reactivity, some handlers are working on their own handling skills and confidence, some dogs are learning foundations, others are learning advanced concepts. While I am the one determining and controlling the pace for each dog, for the most part, students are coming with their own goals in mind.
THE NITTY GRITTY DETAILS
Group Training takes place weekly on Thursday evenings, Friday mornings, and Sunday mornings.
We meet on my property in Harris, MN.
The cost to attend is $45/dog.
Group Training differs from a Group Class. It is more productive for both dogs and owners. In a group “class” typically, there is one goal and a specific curriculum to meet that goal. Every dog and student are working towards that goal. If you advance faster or you need more time on a specific part, you are out of luck. You must stay with the pace of the whole class. Also in a class, all dogs are out training at the same time which can eliminate dogs with dog-dog issues from being able to attend. It can cause burn out in both the dogs and owners having to manage their attention for an hour straight.
In this setting, dogs get more breaks and because everyone is in a different place in their training journey, you get to absorb and learn more even when you don’t have a dog out. You can see people who are a few steps ahead of you and know what to anticipate with your own dog. You can listen to the advice I give someone who might be dealing with something you are as well and have a little aha moment on the sidelines. The social aspect of the group keeps you motivated to continue and prevents burn out and boredom.
Each dog also comes out one at a time, unless working around dogs is important for them. When it is not their turn they are kenneled in their owner’s car. This means each session is customized specifically to you and your dog's needs.
Each student/dog gets three turns. These turns are short and sweet to make sure only the most important information lands. Taking breaks in between means the dogs don’t get overstimulated or overworked. It’s the perfect environment for learning.
The atmosphere isn’t stuffy and rigid like a class. In between turns you get to socialize with other students. We usually have snacks too. Everyone who attends, is dedicated and enthusiastic about training but no one has a bad attitude. The people I choose for group training are supportive and kind. It’s very important to me that everyone feels comfortable when they are training with me, and group training especially is a judgement free zone. “Come as you are” is my motto.
Many of my students become close friends. With me and with each other. Some of the more experienced students have invited the novices to join them in other activities outside of group training and I’m enjoying watching these little side groups forming. Two of my novice students just earned their first titles with their dogs this past weekend because other students introduced them to the sport Barn Hunt. The community I create is just as important to me as the training we accomplish while you’re here. This is why we joke that we are a cult. Our support for each other extends outside of the training days.
It costs $45/dog to come to group training.
We meet on my beautiful private property in Harris, MN. As weather permits, we'll be outside. Indoor space is available for less than ideal conditions. Consider this a little getaway for yourself and your dogs. We meet on Thursday evenings at or around 5pm, Friday mornings at 10am and Sunday mornings at 9am. We are usually there for at least 3 hours but sometimes more. I can usually get people out early if I need to, but I think you get the best experience if you stay and watch everyone.
Why don't you offer private, individual lessons?Over the past three years I have been on a quest to simplify my business and provide services that are not only helpful to clients but highlight what makes me different than other dog trainers. This format has been very beneficial for many clients and is something I have never seen offered by any other trainer before. I would prefer to pour my energy into this service and be the best version of this than offer services that don't make me feel beneficial and unique.
My dog does not get along with or do well with seeing other dogs, does that mean this service is not for us?On the contrary! This service is exactly for you. All dogs in this service are trained one at a time until they are ready to see dogs. It is not like a group class where all the dogs are out at the same time in a small room. During your turn it will just be you, your dog, and me while the other students chit chat on the sidelines. So your dog will only see other dogs when they need to and are ready. Because there are other, dogs in attendance though, this means we have access to lots of safe opportunities to practice your dog's training in the presence of dogs. We don't always have these opportunities in a private lesson where we typically have to go looking for dogs and are subjected to whatever dogs we see out in public - which could mean poorly behaved or out of control dogs.
If all the dogs take turns, where are the dogs kept when it isn't their turn?When dogs are not training or being used as a distraction for another dog they are kept in their owners' vehicles. I know with the drastic temperatures we face in Minnesota that sounds concerning. If you are unsure how to keep your dog safe while they wait in your vehicle, shoot me an email and we can discuss. There are lots of easy solutions and great products you can easily get online that control the temperature of your vehicle. The first thing I usually recommend is, if your vehicle can fit a crate for your dog, purchasing one so that you can leave your windows open without having to worry that your dog will escape. If your vehicle cannot fit a crate that will fit your dog, let me know and we can come up with a solution so that you can still attend.
How long are the sessions?There are two parts to this answer: First, how long are the turns your dog gets? This really depends on your dog and what their goals are. The main benefit of this service to the dogs is that they never get overworked to the point where they fail simply because they have been overstimulated or become bored. There is no specific amount of time your dog will be out for their turn. If we get the perfect amount of success in the first five minutes, I may tell you to give your dog a break so we don't ruin that progress. If I have more things I need to explain to you, your turns might be closer to 10-15 minutes. As far as how long the session is for all the dogs to go. How long can you expect to be here each time. That also varies. Sometimes we have big groups of more than five dogs in attendance and other time we might only have two or three. Typically Sundays are the busiest days. If you need to leave at a specific time, let me know when you arrive and I will make sure to get all your turns in so you can leave when you need to. I would recommend planning on being there for at least two hours though.
Do I need to have an evaluation or consultation before attending my first session?Nope! Newcomers are always welcome and anything I need to know about you and your dog can be gathered in emails beforehand.
I am nervous about working my dog in front of other people...This is a normal feeling all new folks feel. You certainly are not alone! I promise you that this crowd of people will change your mind very quickly. I have been so lucky to have built a group of supportive and optimistic people that come to my training days. Majority of them have dealt with plenty of their own struggles with their dogs and know exactly how you are feeling. No one, including me, is going to judge you for your dog's behavior or anything else. Once you get to know everyone, having so many people in your corner will be the biggest aid in your success!
Okay, I'm interested but what are we actually going to work on?Once again, it depends! Most people who train with me are working with some kind of either reactivity or aggression but a few people are also coming to work on really high levels of obedience either for competition or just to feel as connected to their dog as they can. There is no curriculum that everyone is required to follow but here is an example of what the process looks like for a new client with a dog that has reactivity or aggression issues: - Evaluating how well the dog understands basic commands - Evaluating your handling skills (i.e how you hold and use the leash, how you communicate with your dog, your body language, your knowledge of training tools, etc.) - Introducing tools that I think will be helpful to your dog - Increasing reliability for basic commands working towards more advanced behaviors - Practicing control around other dogs or whatever triggers your dog has - Practicing, practicing, practicing! This is the stage where your dog gets safe, structured exposure and your confidence grows!
I have a question not listed here...Awesome! I'd be more than happy to talk through all of your questions and thoughts to help you determine that this is the right service for you! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org