The Myth of 10 lessons

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Somehow, somewhere this myth came about that it takes 10 lessons to teach Basic Obedience to dogs. Some trainers even sell packages of 17 lessons or 42 lessons.

Well, that’s great if you actually see the trainer for all those lessons, when I first started to train here I had many clients tell me they had hired someone else first and paid for all the lessons in advance and the trainer only turned up twice or three times…oldest scam in the book.

I once was working in the East Africa Kennel Club office and a guy came in to ask about training classes at the club. He had bought two registered Rottweiler’s and mentioned which breeders they came from so I could work out that he had spent serious money for these 2 dogs. He said he had hired a trainer and had spent 60,000 KSH !!! on training and only 1 of the 2 puppies could sit!! Teaching 98% of all dogs (or even puppies) to sit takes minutes and no force and no shouting, just good treats, patience and timing.

I often have people want to know exactly how many lessons it will take. Well, it depends on what the problem/s or goals are and if you do any practice and if you are consistent with the dog generally and also if you have a clever dog! I could come every day until the dog has died of old age, but if you never practice and aren’t consistent it’s not the best use of my time or your money. On the other hand, if you generally “get” dog training, have a good sense of timing and practice regularly then you could easily do just 4 lessons with a clever dog and be just fine if you only want the basics.

Also a serious behavioral problem like; fighting, chasing/killing prey or resource guarding won’t be fixed just by teaching heel, sit, down , stay, recall and finish. It gives you a better relationship with your dog and lets you have better control but it only skims the surface.

In a class setting of 8 sessions, I can usually teach and do a repeat practice of  Touch, Loose Leash Walking, Sit, Down, Leave and Recall as well as socializing exercises. We also repeat and practice what we have learned in previous classes as most people travel for work or take advantage of long weekends for safaris.

So, my advice is hire a good, positive trainer. Make sure you have a clear list of goals or behaviors that will help you enjoy your dog more and then practice between sessions. As a trainer I understand that kids get sick, work travel or big projects come up and sometimes I come back and the client will have been too busy to do much practice. If it’s week after week of no practice then I usually have a talk with the client. I cannot wave a magic wand and fix your dog’s problems, nor can I move in with a client and manage, prevent and train if the client cannot be bothered to do it for themselves.

Happy Training!

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