Local Dog Training Options

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Available Dog Training Classes

Puppy Class
Perfect for young pups between 10 weeks and 9 months. Focuses on teaching essential commands, good manners, potty training, nutrition, and grooming. Puppies must be fully vaccinated.

Beginner Class
Ideal for adolescent or mature dogs new to training. Covers "The Big Five" commands and addresses problem behaviors. Proof of vaccination required.

Intermediate Class
Builds on previously learned commands and introduces new skills like settling, heeling, and staying focused despite distractions. Includes trick training.

Walk-About Class
For dogs needing additional practice with basic obedience. This 12-week course includes visits to dog-friendly locations for enhanced socialization practice. Classes are held on Thursday evenings, and dogs must have completed the Intermediate class.

Advanced Class
Prepares dogs for the Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International Tests. Emphasizes individual skill concerns. Completion of the Intermediate class is required. Contact the instructor for more details.

Shy Dog Class
For shy dogs 6 months or older, focusing on confidence-building and trust between the dog and owner. Teaches the "Big Five" and good household manners. Proof of vaccination required.

Rowdy Dog Class
Designed for dogs exhibiting rowdy behaviors such as jumping, leash pulling, and counter-surfing. Focuses on impulse control and correcting bad habits. Includes teaching the "Big Five" commands. Dogs must be at least 6 months old and fully vaccinated.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)
For dogs that have completed beginner or puppy classes but need to address new issues. Enhances previously learned skills and introduces new ones. Includes trick training.

Petco Dog Training
Offers a range of classes for different age groups and skill levels, including:

  • Puppy
  • Beginner
  • Fundamentals
  • Advanced
  • Private Lessons
  • Canine Good Citizen

Classes cost between $39 and $329 depending on the type and duration.

Most classes last 4–6 weeks, but one-time sessions are available. Fully vaccinated dogs are required for in-person classes. Private lessons are recommended for aggressive dogs or those that don't socialize well.

APF Canine Academy
Offers classes from Puppy Basics to advanced training like Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International. Emphasizes socialization and positive reinforcement techniques. Instructors are certified and focus on maintaining a positive training environment.

For instance, a six-week class costs $105. Classes meet once a week. Pre-registration at the shelter is required, along with proof of vaccination.

Special classes, such as the STEP class for reactive dogs, are taught by certified trainers like Sheila Leguire and Cydney Cross. These courses aim to build well-mannered pets and responsible canine citizens.

Northbrook Park District
Offers two main classes:

  1. "Puppy Beginnings" for puppies aged 2 to 4 months
  2. "Basic Behaviors Dog Training" for dogs aged 5 months and up

Classes run for six weeks and are entirely based on positive reinforcement. Classes are held on Tuesday evenings and are kept small to maximize attention for each dog and owner.

Proof of vaccination is required for all classes, and pre-recorded orientation videos are provided before the start of each course.

By examining these different options, dog owners can choose the most suitable training program for their furry friends, ensuring they develop into obedient, well-mannered pets. Each program has structured pathways, making it an enjoyable experience for both owners and their pets.

Trainer Qualifications and Methods

When considering dog training classes, it's crucial to evaluate the credentials and methodologies of the trainers. Certifications from recognized institutions like the Animal Behavior College (ABC) or the American Kennel Club (AKC) signal a trainer's competence and dedication to professional standards1.

Certified trainers have undergone rigorous educational programs and hands-on training to understand dog behavior, commands, and effective training techniques. For example, Gayle Mulvey and Kathleen Griffin, instructors at Dog Training Elite, hold certifications that attest to their knowledge and skills in dog training. Their training incorporates positive reinforcement, a widely recognized and humane method2.

Positive reinforcement involves rewarding dogs for desirable behaviors, encouraging them to repeat those actions. This approach makes training enjoyable for dogs and fosters a bond of trust and cooperation between the dog and owner. Trainers like Melissa Parker from Northbrook Park District and Lynnae Howe of APF Canine Academy also emphasize this method, ensuring a stress-free learning environment for the pets3.

Continued education is another critical aspect of a competent trainer's career. Trainers often attend workshops, conferences, and participate in advanced courses to stay updated with the latest research and techniques in dog training. For instance, Sheila Leguire enhances her expertise by learning about behavior modification and handling reactive dogs, ensuring her students receive up-to-date training solutions.

High-quality training programs also involve personalized instruction and small class sizes to cater to each dog's specific needs. For example, Gayle Mulvey's Walk-About Class and Individual Education Plan offer customized training experiences that address specific challenges and promote consistent progress.

When evaluating training programs, ensure the trainers are certified by reputable institutions and emphasize positive reinforcement methods. This will guarantee a professional, effective, and enjoyable training experience for your dog.

Registration and Requirements

To register for dog training classes, you'll need to follow specific steps to ensure a smooth process and successful enrollment. Pre-requisites such as vaccinations, age requirements, and necessary documentation must be met for the safety and well-being of all participants.

First, make sure your dog meets the age requirements for the specific class you're interested in. For example, the Puppy Class is designed for puppies aged 10 weeks to 9 months, while the Beginner and other more advanced classes cater to older dogs or those that have already completed prior training. Some programs, like the Shy Dog and Rowdy Dog classes, have a minimum age requirement of 6 months.

Proof of vaccination is a mandatory prerequisite for all classes. This includes vaccinations for rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and, depending on the program, bordetella4. Ensure you have your dog's vaccination records ready to present either during pre-registration or at the first class meeting. For Northbrook Park District's classes, proof of the first round of vaccinations is required at least 10 days before the start date, whereas other programs may have similar or different timelines.

Documentation such as a completed registration form, vaccination history, and, in some cases, a waiver or consent form is often required. Check the specific requirements listed on the organization's website or contact them directly for any additional paperwork they may need.

Pre-registration is generally required to secure a spot in the class. This often involves an in-person visit to the training facility, where you can fill out forms, present vaccination records, and pay the registration fee. Some classes, like those at APF Canine Academy, cost $105 for a six-week course, and spots can fill up quickly. Therefore, register as early as possible to avoid missing out.

Certain classes might have additional pre-requisites. For instance, the Walk-About and Advanced classes require dogs to have completed prior courses like the Intermediate Class. Verify these requirements to confirm your dog's eligibility.

Moreover, specific handling requirements might be in place. For instance, some classes demand that dogs be on a non-retractable leash or require a specific type of collar. Adhere to these guidelines to participate in the training sessions.

Deadlines for registration and pre-requisite approvals vary among programs. Check these dates and submit all required documentation on time. For example, if you're registering for the Northbrook Park District classes, ensure you watch the pre-recorded orientation video as part of the process and submit your documents before the set deadline.

A dog receiving a vaccination at a veterinary clinic, highlighting the importance of meeting vaccination requirements for training classes

Specialized Classes and Services

Specialized classes provide customized training experiences to address unique behavioral needs or specific issues that dogs might face. These classes are essential for fostering better behavior and socialization in dogs that require special attention.

Classes for Shy Dogs

Shy dogs often need specialized attention to help boost their confidence and build trust with their owners. Classes like the Shy Dog Class offered by Dog Training Elite are designed for dogs six months or older who exhibit timid or fearful behaviors. These classes focus on fundamental commands, as well as developing good household manners. The ultimate goal is to enhance the shy dog's confidence through positive reinforcement and create a trusting relationship with the owner.

Reactive Dog Classes

For dogs that are reactive to certain stimuli, specialized training classes can make a significant difference. For example, Sheila Leguire at the APF Canine Academy offers the Get in the Zone class, targeting reactive dogs that are easily distracted or prone to overreacting in various situations. This class aims to teach owners how to manage and modify their dogs' behavior through understanding canine body language and using positive reinforcement techniques.

Impulse Control and Behavioral Correction

The Rowdy Dog Class addresses dogs displaying behaviors like jumping, leash pulling, or counter-surfing. These sessions are crucial for teaching impulse control and rectifying bad habits. Lessons cover the "Big Five" commands and include techniques to help dogs manage their impulses better and form positive habits at home.

Socialization Classes

Socialization is a critical aspect of dog development5. Classes focused on this area expose dogs to various stimuli, ensuring they can handle different situations with ease. For instance, the Walk-About Class at Dog Training Elite offers opportunities for dogs to practice their skills in real-world contexts, such as visits to dog-friendly locations. This 12-week course enhances socialization and obedience by recreating distracting scenarios, helping dogs learn to stay focused amidst various distractions.

Therapy Dog Preparation

For owners interested in training their dogs to become therapy animals, specialized classes like the Advanced Class at Dog Training Elite prepare dogs for certifications such as the Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International Tests. These classes focus on honing individual skills and addressing specific concerns that therapy dogs must master to work effectively in therapeutic settings6.

Classes led by instructors with high qualifications ensure that training is comprehensive and effective. For example, instructors like Kathy Snowden and Lynnae Howe, both certified by the Animal Behavior College, bring a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to their sessions. They emphasize keeping pets in their homes by addressing the underlying causes of problematic behaviors and teaching owners how to bridge communication gaps with their canine companions.

Specialized classes and services are paramount for addressing unique behavioral challenges and ensuring dogs are well-socialized and well-behaved. Programs tailored to shy and reactive dogs, as well as impulse control and socialization classes, provide targeted training that fosters better behavior and stronger bonds between dogs and their owners.

By choosing the right training program, you can help your dog become a well-behaved and happy companion. Whether it's basic obedience or specialized classes, there's a path for every dog to thrive. As renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan once said, "In dog training, jerk is a noun, not a verb."7 With the right approach and dedication, you and your furry friend can embark on a rewarding journey of learning and growth together.

  1. Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Standards of practice and code of ethics. 2020.
  2. American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. AVSAB position statement on humane dog training. 2021.
  3. Hiby EF, Rooney NJ, Bradshaw JWS. Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Anim Welf. 2004;13(1):63-69.
  4. American Animal Hospital Association. Canine vaccination guidelines. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2011;47(5):1-42.
  5. Howell TJ, King T, Bennett PC. Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior. Vet Med (Auckl). 2015;6:143-153.
  6. Mongillo P, Pitteri E, Adamelli S, Bonichini S, Farina L, Marinelli L. Validation of a selection protocol of dogs involved in animal-assisted intervention. J Vet Behav. 2015;10(2):103-110.
  7. Millan C, Peltier M. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems. New York, NY: Harmony Books; 2006.

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