Group Classes are a popular option at Shelly’s School for Dogs. Classes are conducted in small groups (approximately 10 dog and handler teams) so that individual attention can be given to a student team as necessary. The course is a total of 7 weeks, starting with a seminar (just for the humans, no dogs attend the initial training seminar) and following with six “working weeks” and a graduation at the end of the final session. Each week is devoted to teaching a basic command (like heel, sit, come, down, stay, etc.) and to addressing and correcting problem habits. At the end of each class, “homework” is given in the form of practicing the commands during the week. A big advantage of the Group Class is that the Instructor teaches the handler to train the dog, and these are skills that will help with communication and bonding between dog and owner. Another advantage is the distractions under which the dog will be learning – if they can learn and work with other dogs and people around – and not in their own familiar environment – they can learn anywhere. And if remedial lessons are needed, the training staff there at Shelly’s is always available to help out with scheduling private lessons or enrolling a difficult dog in perhaps a better learning environment such as the Doggy Day School or Boarding School classes.
Another advantage of Group Classes for the average pet owner is the ability to have their dog exposed to other dogs and people. Though less rigorous than the Day or Boarding School curriculum, your dog is put in a highly social setting, and you learn to work within that distracting situation. This is a huge step for some dogs, and great for an owner to get used to exerting and maintaining appropriate control even in the most challenging setting. The Instructors ensure safety – even in the midst of dealing with multiple canine personality types – and you and your dog reap the benefits of such social exposure. Most people do not have the regular opportunity to take advantage of situations in which their dogs are in a social environment with other dogs, and having them in the Group Class can make a huge difference in their development of correct social behavior - an important skill that can last a lifetime.
The Beginner's class covers basic on-leash dog obedience, using voice commands and hand signals. Positive reinforcement is key, so a healthy social bond between dog and owner is highly encouraged. Basic Obedience commands include: sit, down, stay, heel, and come. The Beginner's Class also addresses a myriad of dog behavioral issues such as chewing, biting, mouthing, housebreaking, running away, barking, dog aggression, jumping, and pulling. This is recommended for every companion dog – regardless of how well your dog behaves at home, they are often not so obedient in unfamiliar environments, and part of the pleasure is having a well-behaved dog with you for a walk or other outdoor activities – without having to worry if they are going to run off after something or jump on a stranger. A Group Class is absolutely essential for dogs that are not trained and/or have any behavioral problems – regardless of the age of the dog. Family is always welcome to join the class to watch and learn so that everyone is on the “same page” when it comes to properly working the dog.
The advanced class goes from the Basic Class’s on-lead training and takes it to another level: off-lead. The curriculum emphasizes gaining control of your dog over progressively longer distances, environmental challenges and time - culminating in complete off-leash control. Dogs learn to respond to all basic commands without a leash, as well as learning correct obedience behavior in more difficult situations – many of which are exercises pulled from various obedience “trials” (tests where the dog can earn a title after passing). The course also teaches advanced obedience and control techniques – perfect for the overly-smart dog who needs a challenge, and the owner who has been “bitten by the bug” and decides to go even further when it comes to making his dog a super-dog. Some of the dogs that have been successful in this class have gone on to earn Obedience, Conformation and other dog sport titles as well as appearing in film and print media. Prerequisite: Graduating the Beginner’s Class.