Perfect for the DIY Kind of Person
Private lessons are a great option for people who want to be a big part of their dog's evolution into a well trained, well behaved pet. Each lesson lasts for somewhere between 1-1.5 hours, and during that time your trainer will go over goals and progress, review already taught behaviors, teach new behaviors and techniques, help you tackle behavioral issues, and give you some homework for the next week. Your trainer will also be available to answer questions during the week, but for the most part you only have access to them for a little over an hour. There are a few things that you can do to maximize your time with the trainer, and to get the most out of your training package.
Pre-Lesson Helpful Tips
Before a lesson, there are some things that you can do to maximize the amount of work that we are able to do with your dog during the lesson itself. Save half or all of your dog's breakfast so that your dog is hungry and eager to work for the rest of that breakfast during the lesson. Having the dog highly food motivated during the lesson will allow us to cover more during the lesson. The same is true for dogs who we are using toy rewards with. If you have a lesson scheduled, don't have a big half hour play session in the morning beforehand. We want to save that energy and toy drive for the training session.
Your trainer is there for you and they want to make sure that you are confident in the training. If you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of the training during a session or during your homework, please let your trainer know. If you are a client of mine and you have any question during the training process, you can always contact me by phone, text, or e-mail and I will get back to you as soon as possible to make sure that you are set up to succeed.
The Written Word
Depending on the type of program your dog is in and the issues we are working on, I may give you handouts or a small packet of information, especially for new puppy owners. These handouts are jam packed with information to help you on your training journey. If I give you a handout or packet, please don't just throw it in the never-going-to-do pile or the recycle bin. Read through them, at least once, and apply the information from the handout to your daily training sessions with your dog. Many of these handouts make great "cheat sheets", which can be useful for going back to later on in your training program.
Realistic Expectations and Being Honest With Your Trainer
This is a big one. As your trainer, I want you and your dog to be successful. Success with private lessons is made during the week in between sessions when you are practicing and working through things with your dog. If you know that you have a very busy work schedule and you will only be able to devote a certain amount of time, be honest with your trainer so that they can progress with you at a rate that is appropriate. If you end up with lots of different things to work on and you do not have time to do them justice, the results will be frustrating for everyone involved. If you let me know that you are on limited free time, I can set up a training schedule that will fit better with your existing schedule, and that will make training more successful and stress-free.
On a related note, if you find that on one week you just ran out of time and did not get to work on as much obedience as you were assigned, please let me know. We can progress according to how much work the dog has actually had, and prevent the dog from being thrown into something new that he may not be ready for. Being honest with your trainer about the amount of work you have been able to do during the week is in the best interest of your dog and will get you the best results.
Sam is the owner and head trainer at Kentucky Dog Training LLC. She set up this blog to share success stories, training tips, the progression of dogs in our training programs, and other thoughts on dogs and training.