Training classes have definite benefits. An instructor walks you through the process of getting the behavior you want, the class offers structure and motivation to keep training, and your classmates are available to act as extra hands or distractions. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to good training classes. So how can someone get the benefits of class without taking one? A recent thread on the ClickerSolutions mailing list brainstormed ideas for training alone.
Books and DVDs abound for getting ideas about what to train and when. Some, like Pat Miller's Power of Positive Dog Training, even present the information in class format. Sue Ailsby's online Training Levels site provides an easy-to-follow training progression, a free book of instruction, and even a YahooGroup for support. Finding people to help you train requres a bit of creativity. Some of the ideas suggested included:
- Throw a party for your friends. Provide food and drinks, but ask that they agree to help you with your dog for a few minutes during the party. Throw a puppy party, and you'll have canine distractions as well!
- Train outside the local elementary school when school is letting out for the day. You'll have any number of eager volunteers.
- Train outside grocery stores, strip malls, or open-air malls. Many even have covered walk-ways, so you can train when it's raining.
- Train in the aisles of pet-friendly stores like PetSmart.
- Train in your vet's office (with permission, of course).
- Create a training group of like-minded people in your area, and plan monthly, or even weekly, get-togethers.
Suggestions for Training Alone
I just want to add one more option for those individuals who don't have access to a local training class. Volunteer to work with 4-Hr's in your area. The kids are eager to help and you can begin to teach them about positive animal training methods. Other groups to volunteer for are: FFA; Boy & Girl Scouts; After school programs. Check with your local extension office, school district or parks & rec. dept. to see what they offer and where they can use assistance.