While they may be adept at training, teaching people is a different kettle of fish. The skills required for this rarely come naturally; in most cases it has to be learnt and requires far more experience, competence and knowledge. This is the foundation period which must be set properly. So, it is best that a first-time instructor assists a more qualified one or they can try their hand at the beginner’s or advanced class – under supervision.
As a rule each member of a puppy class group should commence on the same day. The practice of having lessons which are flexible, allowing people and their pups to join at any time is not quite fair on the rest of the attendees. It can also be embarrassing and daunting for the newcomer. A new student requires extra attention and with only one instructor for the entire group it can be detrimental to the time offered to everyone else. Even if an understudy or assistant instructor is allocated the task to advise the new subscriber, the latter often feels intimidated by the rest of the group observing the progress.
Another very important consideration regards the dog. Within a very short period of time, puppies that attend on a regular basis form themselves into a loosely structured pack system with a natural order and familiarity. Any newly introduced pup becomes an intrusion causing a great deal of posturing to take place preceding a restructuring of the hierarchy. The newly introduced pup often feels insecure which affects its learning ability.
Preparation for a new intake must include questioning pet owners if they are aware of their dogs having any form of aggressive tendencies towards other dogs. If this is the case, this type of pup must be kept away in a fenced off cage area or in the car if the weather is cool enough. Once all the pups have relaxed and settled then the “big deal” may be brought in.
This one with attitude will be subdued by the general atmosphere of acceptance and will be admitted with no status which it will have to work hard on to achieve. Coming in last gives it the lowest status and is less inclined to bully the pack. Irrespective of genetic status, size or type of breed all puppies, instinctively, are aware of the laws of trespassing and can be chased off even by the most timid and lowest ranking individual. This simple procedure and understanding of canine behaviour facilitates integration of a new intake with minimal difficulty.
The owner of an aggressive puppy will normally comply with this arrangement because their pup’s tendency for aggressiveness is possibly the reason why they enrolled initially. By demonstrating that the aggressive attitude can be contained will give them the added incentive to return for every lesson. An experienced reputable canine obedience instructor will explain, in advance, what is expected to occur. The rest of the attendees will find the insight in to canine behaviour fascinating and this will instil in their minds the fact that there is far more to training than pressing a remote button or waving a magic wand.