Looking for Albuquerque dog training classes? SpiritDog Training offers a variety of different group classes and activities. We have a class for every dog!
Group classes work great for owners of dogs that are not dog-reactive and are looking for training in a setting that incorporates some distractions as well as socialization.
The first time you show up at a group class your dog’s mind might be blown and he will behave a little crazy. But soon enough he will learn to work through distractions and focus on you any time, any place.
We offer a variety of group dog training classes in Albuquerque and surrounding areas, both for puppies and adult dogs.
Our group classes are not a standardized curriculum with no deviations, instead I approach each class with the intention to adapt my training goals to the dog and owner teams in front of me. Our methods are always rewards-based.
My classes have a positive and encouraging atmosphere, and it is not unusual to hear genuine applause when a dog and handler team succeeds in a task they have been struggling with. I highly encourage interactions and sharing of training experiences between class clients. Our classes are not going to be you in the middle of strangers training by yourself – we are all training partners who are working towards the same goals.
What If My Dog Is Too Distracted?
All dogs start out being a bit distracted by the class situation and all the new sights, sounds and smells that come with it. Most of them are able to focus on their owner within a couple of lessons and learn well.
If your dog is struggling, we always have a couple tricks up our sleeves:
- Trying out some extra delicious new treats
- Letting you have your turn practicing with a bit more distance to the others
- Having you arrive early so your dog can spend some time sniffing the environment and getting comfortable
- Seeing if perhaps your dog would like to train for toys
- Teaching you a variety of attention games.
What Should I Bring To A Class?
Most of all: Treats!
We treat our dogs a lot. The more often we can tell them that they are doing something right, the better and faster they can learn! We want to use every opportunity to teach them what we like. This is much, much easier than teaching them what we do not like.
Most new students underestimate how many treats we will use. They can be very small – the size of your pinkie fingernail is fine. They should also be soft and chewy so that they do not interrupt the flow of training when your dog is chewing them.
A Well-Rested Dog
Dog training classes are mentally challenging for your dog. If he spends his days playing out in the yard (perhaps with other dogs), make sure you give him 2-3hrs of rest right before coming to class. If your dog is already worn out from a day of romping around, he will
- have much less brain power left to learn and
- not be as interested in engaging as he already had a lot of engagement.
Do not bring a dog with an empty stomach. He will learn better if he has eaten a bit before class. For a morning class, feed your dog half of his usual breakfast. For an evening class, make sure he has had a snack since breakfast. For all out and about dog training classes in Albuquerque (such as man trailing), take extra care that he has an appetite and is ready to learn!
Can My Dog Play With The Other Dogs In Class?
We do not encourage on-leash meetings during our classes.
Dogs tend to be a lot more tense and reactive when meeting other dogs while being on leash. This results from them not being able to use their body language they way they can when not being on lead.
Dogs usually communicate their peaceful intentions by for example turning their head to the side and walking laterally. This is not possible while they are on a short leash! Dogs also meet face-to-back. That means that the do not look into each other’s faces like humans do when they meet, but instead pass each others’ body and take a sniff at the backside. Again, we usually hold the leashes so short that such greetings are not possible.
When dogs that do not know each other meet on a short leash, they tend to stare directly into each other’s eyes. This is perceived as very threatening and rude. While they do not intend to communicate aggression, they can easily misinterpret the other dog’s straight body position and direct look into their face as an intention to get physical.
In order to let all dogs learn in as stress-free an environment as possible, we do not allow you to have your dog meet and play with other dogs on leash during our classes. If you are interested in getting your dog together with other social dogs for a playtime, we can organize this after our dog training class and with a monitored meet-and-greet that does not happen on a tight and short leash.
We offer classes of several disciplines: Agility, obedience, tricks, frisbee and man trailing. Find your new favorite of on-going ones or contact us for special classes!
What Makes Our Group Classes Different?
Group classes have traditionally been large in dog training. It is not uncommon to see group classes that have 8-10 dogs in them at some training centers. We believe that this is not the best way to learn – both for the dog and the owner.
The larger a class is, the less personal attention and feedback you are able to receive. Your dog has to adjust to more distractions and he needs to train in close vicinity to a variety of other dogs. For some dogs, the small amount of personal space that goes along with large group training classes makes it hard to feel comfortable and concentrate!
In speciality classes like agility or man trailing the nature of the sport dictates that only one dog runs at a time. (Imagine the chaos if multiple dogs ran on an agility course at once!) We want everyone to be able to have plenty of turns and go home with a tired dog who has had more than just 5 minutes on the field!
We understand that all dogs are individuals and all owners have a unique bond with their pet. That means that sometimes, one dog and handler team will need a different idea for teaching the same behavior as another.
In our group classes we do not just present you with a blueprint instruction of how to train a certain behavior and then send you home to figure it out without taking your dog as an individual into account. Instead, we work with each dog and owner in the group classes to find out how they can train most effectively.
For some dogs this might mean training a behavior with toys instead of with food like everyone else. It can mean developing a plan for how to prepare the dog to be in his best mental state for the class (some dogs need rest before training, others need to get out some energy first!).
Option For On-Going Training
Instead of sending you off after five weeks of classes, we offer classes that offer the option of on-going training. This has proven to be very useful in keeping all the good habits that you taught your dog fresh in his mind.
It can be difficult to find the time in our day-to-day life for practicing dog training. Many dogs do not really require daily training session once they have learned the basics, and one weekly group class is perfect for keeping up with the training you have done.
Dogs (just like us) are creatures of habit. If we take them to a group class for a month and practice a lot at home, but then stop and do not refresh their knowledge, they are likely to fall back into old bad habits such as pulling on leash, not sitting when told or jumping up at everyone they see.
Making sure your dog rehearses in a class setting every week will make sure that all the training you have done will not slowly deteriorate.
Training In Different Albuquerque Locations
We do not just have one training location for our clients. Instead, you can visit group classes with us in Cedar Crest, Edgewood and Albuquerque. We understand that dog training is the most convenient when it happens close to home! For dogs that need to get used to public places, we have sessions in different locations around the city of Albuquerque – such as in hardware stores, Uptown and Old Town.
For our agility dogs we have a big agility field in Edgewood.
And the man trailing dogs are able to train all over the Sandia Mountains, the Bosque and Edgewood!
How Many Weeks Are The Classes?
Our pay periods for classes are 4 or 5 weeks long, depending on the class.
Most owners however enjoy the specialty classes and taking their dog to training becomes a weekly hobby. It is not so much that the dog needs to complete a course and then is trained, but rather he keeps on learning, while getting better smarter and more skilled during the whole time. This is why we have many classes that you can join again and again.
Does My Dog Need Any Prerequisites?
Not really. If you have already trained him a little this will certainly help, but if not we will get you started out on the right foot.
For some of the higher level classes we require dogs to have completed the basic training (for example, do man trailing I first and then advance to man trailing II) but generally, it is ok to start even the specialty classes without much prior training. The good thing about our play-based training approach is that it is very fun for the dog and he learns very quickly how to participate and be successful in his games.
Can Several Family Members Train?
Generally, yes. Everyone who interacts with, cares for and trains the dog within your family is welcome to handle the dog in class. Please take note of some important key factors to keep in mind:
The bond between kids and dogs is a beautiful thing to watch. We very much enjoy to support your child’s relationship with the dog by teaching dog training to him or her. Children should be old enough to follow the instructions during a class – how old exactly this is varies from child to child and may be as young as 6 years or as old as 12. Please make sure that your child is in physical control of the dog at all times. Even a medium-sized dog can easily overpower a child and rip the leash out of his hand. If your dog is stronger than your child, an adult will need to be present during the class to hold a backup leash and support the child in handling the dog.
- Having Multiple Family Members Train
It is absolutely ok to switch who handles the dog in which lesson. This way the dog is actually able to learn that the rules and behaviors are always the same, no matter who he trains with – an important lesson for a family dog!If you switch from week to week, please make sure to brief the handler of the dog before the class what the dog has recently learned and worked on. Since our classes are advancing in training, and your dog will be advancing, his handlers also need to be up to date.
- Consistency At Home
After your lesson you should make sure to explain to all family members who are involved in training your dog what was learned. Only if everyone consistently applies the same training approach the dog has a fair chance of learning – if everyone has different rules and training ideas your dog might end up very confused.
My Dog Is Reactive, Can I Still Bring Him?
Unfortunately, no. In order to guarantee a safe and productive learning environment for all owners and dogs, we cannot let dogs with reactivity issues participate in our classes.
If your dog has a habit of growling and lunging at people or dogs, he is not suited for a group class at this point. Everyone in the class wants to advance their dogs’ skills and behaviors and this is not possible if there is the potential for a dog fight or a dog escalating with a human.
While we understand that you are aiming to cure your dog’s reactivity, a class situation is not the best step to begin this journey with.
Instead, we recommend private lessons to address the problem in a more controlled setting first. Many of our private reactivity clients actually graduate to being able to train their dog in a group class. But it is not the first step.
Group classes are aimed at teaching the dogs specific skills, such as leash walking, tricks, agility, man trailing etc. If everyone else in the class is focusing on doing exercises to train these skills while you are only trying to control your dog you will not use this time as effectively for dog training as you could.
In training reactive dogs, we always want to make sure that the environment is as much under our control as possible. This means for example being aware of our dog’s distance to other dogs or people, making sure that no triggers put the dog over his threshold and so on. Since a regular group class will have several dogs and owners moving around, doing different games and training their dogs in a variety of ways it will be impossible for you to always ensure that your dog is not worked up enough to bark and lunge.
What If My Dog Is Scared?
If your dog is scared of the other dogs or people in the class, we will evaluate him on a case-by-case basis and decide what to do depending on the exact characteristics of his fear.
If the anxiety is not overly profound, he will most likely be fine after his first two or three classes. In this case we encourage you to come and just make sure that he does not come too close to what is scaring him and that he eats many delicious treats. We will give you an opportunity to have a turn without other dogs close by so that your dog goes home with a positive memory!
If your dog seems to be deeply unsettled we will discuss options for you to slowly get him used to being around the commotion of a class. Some owners bring their dogs to class and just let their dogs watch from the sidelines free of charge for a few weeks.
If you have previously attended other dog training classes in Albuquerque and found that your dog was too scared to participate, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We have some tricks up our sleeves that have gotten many shy dogs out of their shell!
Another solution is to do a private session or two first during which we discuss how to conquer the anxiety, and to have you join a group class after.
We like to train outdoors – with this comes at times unpredictable weather. We try to give you as much prior notice as possible when classes will be canceled due to bad weather.
Sometimes this is easy when a storm has been forecasted for a while, but if there is sudden inclement weather we may need to cancel a class just a couple hours before it is scheduled. We will always make sure that you receive our notices – via email, text message or phone call.
As a general rule of thumb, we do not have class if it is raining or snowing or we have recently received a lot of snow. We try to keep the agility field free of snow in the winter as much as possible. Recent rain is usually not a problem as the mulch makes the water go through and provides a dry footing at most times.
In the winter all dog training classes in Albuquerque are later during the day when the sun has warmed up so we rarely cancel due to cold. In the summer the classes are earlier in the day (or at night) so we and our dogs can escape the heat during training.
Some Health Stuff…
Please bring your dog’s shot record to the first class.
We do not require your dog to be spayed or neutered in order to attend our classes. We understand that this is a personal choice that everyone makes in the best interest of their pet – whether you have them altered at 8 weeks, 8 months or not at all!
Please note however that you cannot bring a female dog in season to our classes. Keep her home until her heat is over and join us afterwards. She might be too distracting to your fellow classmates in your dog training class in Albuquerque.
If you have an intact male dog (or a neutered male dog who likes to mark), please note that we heavily discourage marking our equipment. You are responsible to watch your dog at all times and make sure he does not urinate on parts of the agility equipment. Everyone will appreciate clean and sanitary equipment.
Contact us through the form below to inquire about or sign up for any of these dog training classes.
Are group classes not what you are looking for?
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