Get Started in Dog Training: Tips & Techniques for Beginners
Train your Parson Russell

Why train your dog?

This is the really fun and most rewarding part of owning a dog! Training your new friend needs to be high on your list of priorities as soon as you have decided to own a new dog.

No dog is too old to learn and training classes are available for every age and ability, pedigrees, crossbreeds and rescue dogs are all welcomed. You will also meet like-minded people and share in a common aim to have well behaved dogs that are a pleasure to own. Puppies can usually begin as soon as they have had their course of vaccinations.

Training is an obligation all dog owners need to fulfil for the community they live in and the welfare of the dog. By going to classes you can meet the ethical and moral responsibilities of dog ownership and promote the benefits that dogs can bring to peoples' lives.

Finding a dog training club

There are many different types of classes available and activities that you can do with your dog but the first step should be finding a Kennel Club approved organisation. These will vary in types of classes and methods of training but all have to abide by the Kennel Club's codes of conduct.

Training clubs that run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - the largest dog training programme in the UK are a sensible place to begin. Here you will learn about every aspect of dog ownership from the Puppy Foundation Courses through to Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels. Go to GCDS Training Clubs in your County to find one near to you or email ( or call 0207 518 1011.

A training class is not there to train your dog. Its purpose is to teach you to train your dog so you will need to be committed to train your dog for short sessions (5 minutes) several times a day rather than just simply turn up for classes! This little bit of training everyday will be repaid with a lifetime of living with a well behaved dog. You will also learn to avoid problems before they begin as well as receive help to overcome any that you already have with your dog.

Before enrolling with a particular club contact them and ask if you can go to watch a class without your dog. This will help you decide if this is the right environment for you and your dog. Some clubs have waiting lists and you will need to book ahead, some accept people on a roll on roll off basis. Prices will vary from a joining fee and then weekly payments to a one off fee for a certain length of training.

What should I look for at a dog training club?

  • Are you made welcome and are the trainers friendly and approachable?
  • Do the people and their dogs look as if they are enjoying the class?
  • Are the dogs focused on the task with their owner?
  • Are the instructors giving lots of encouragement and information? Are they helping the owners to correct problems that occur?
  • Are the instructors maintaining a safe, controlled environment?
  • Is everyone in the class receiving equal help as well as meeting the needs of the whole class?
  • Remember that a free for all group of puppies playing happily off the lead may seem attractive but can very quickly become out of hand and even frighten your puppy. The same applies to older dogs that certainly benefit from socialising and playing as a reward but only if they respond immediately to the owners command.
  • Before you make your decision ask the owners if they enjoy the classes.

Some training tips:

  • Never be afraid to ask the instructor questions and never feel compelled to do anything that you don't understand or feel happy with.
  • Always be consistent to avoid confusing your dog.
  • Start as you mean to go on. Set your own boundaries for your own dog and stick to them, make sure everyone in the household agrees to do this.
  • Your dog needs to know its name so that it responds to you. After this you will be able to gain its attention and teach new commands and body signals.
  • Keep in mind that dogs do not speak English so the different tones of your voice and body movements are better understood so the actual command words are of less importance.
  • Be patient. If you find yourself getting frustrated and annoyed with your dog, stop and walk away. Do something different for a while. Later begin again with a clear frame of mind.
  • Train for short spells on a regular daily basis. This way the dog remains interested and you will progress faster.
  • Understand your dog and learn to anticipate its next move.
  • Handle and stroke and groom your dog every day with constant praise so it gets very used to being handled.
  • Play adds an extra dimension to a dog's life and can make training fun when used as a reward.
  • Persevere ,don't compare your dog to anyone else's, all dogs are individuals and keep in mind your goal that a well-trained dog is a happy dog and a pleasure to live with.

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