The following table outlines what I see are the main advantages and disadvantages of classes versus one to one training.
|Classes||One To One|
|Socialisation of dogs
Fun environment for handlers
Gain knowledge from other dogs and handlers
Venue away from home distractions
|Lack of individual attention
Specific issues not tackled
All dogs temperaments not suited to class environment
Time of class
Location of class
|Specific training or behavioural issues can be tackled
Relationships between handler and dog in the home can be observed
No socialisation for dogs or handlers
In my experience there are a few important advantages of classes over one to one sessions. The first and most important being socialisation. With puppies and young dogs the socialisation aspect of the class is fundamental. Socialisation means learning how to behave in an acceptable manner amongst other dogs and people. This may be a hard lesson for the puppy that has not learnt to ignore other dogs or people, not everyone wants to be its friend.
Handlers can learn from other handlers and their dogs, particularly if a problem arises that they may not have had to deal with. They can watch and learn techniques, which may be useful at a future date.
It can be helpful to take the dog away from its home environment to focus both the handler and the dog on training rather than day-to-day distractions at home. Cost may also play a part, class lessons are usually cheaper.
Classes do not lend themselves to all types of situation. It can be tricky, in a hall environment, to simulate walking on a street. Depending on the numbers present in the class there may be a lack of individual attention. The training may not be specific enough or the dog may have behavioural issues i.e. nervous or aggressive tendencies. From an instructors point of view classes can be more difficult as they need to be aware of all class members even when focusing on one dog. Not all people can cope amongst their piers, shy people may struggle amongst their classmates. The timing of the class may not fit in with family commitments.
One to one sessions may take place at the dogs home or at a selected location where the issues can be dealt with. I have had great success, after an initial consultation to observe the dog and handler at home, with recommending they bring their dog to my home where I can introduce my socially balanced dogs. A sensible mature dog can have a significant influence on a dogs’ behaviour. Various situations can then be set up i.e. meeting on a walk. More time may be available to discuss the care and management of the dog i.e. exercise regimes, feeding. The social side for the handler is also lacking, people who come to my classes often seem to make friends and meet up to walk their dogs. One to one classes are also expensive, time and travel have to be factored in to the cost by the instructor.
In conclusion I believe there is a role for both situations dependant upon the dog and handlers requirements.