Are you looking for a flexible dog obedience training class that fits your busy lifestyle?
After Lizzie graduated from Puppy Obedience Class, I needed just that! Ruff House Dog Training & Behavior Modification offers a drop-in Dog Obedience Park Class, which is a perfect way for me and my favorite girl to spend an afternoon.
What does that schedule look like?
Classes are held Saturday afternoons for an hour. Our trainer Crystal keeps everyone in the loop about which Saturdays she may have other life commitments like an agility trial or training seminar, so no classes will be held on those days.
Being able to choose whether or not I want to attend a park class makes my life much easier. I can purchase a six-class session package and spread attendance at those classes over a few months or more. If I'm burned out, busy, or out-of-town, I'm not locked into any rigid schedule.
Are there any pre-requisites for this dog obedience park class?
For this class, dogs should be six months or older and know both sit and down.
What skills and behaviors are covered?
Recall / Come
Touch / Mark
Canine Good Citizen practice exercises
Body awareness using different objects and equipment
Easier tricks like spin and crawl
What's it like meeting and training in a public park?
For the majority of the year, I love it. Our Tucson temperatures are rising so late spring classes can be hotter than I'd like, but the park has trees and some shade. Plus Crystal regularly reminds people to give their dogs hydration breaks.
After attending seven sessions, mostly with Lizzie, I see several advantages to the park setting:
The park is always full of different distractions: kids on the playground equipment, families walking by to the Aquatic Center, various sporting events on the nearby fields, people grilling & picnicking, music, and all the regular nature sniffs and sounds.
The attendees vary from week to week as well. Some weeks five people with dogs show up. Other weeks, there could be a dozen people. While I'm starting to get to know some of the regulars, they're taking advantage of the flexibility of this schedule as well, so it's never the exact same mix of people and dogs.
Crystal makes each class unique. If we have a large class, she may have us play a game like this musical chairs type game where everyone practices loose-leash walking. When the music stops, the last dog into a down is "out" to practice a different skill. Other weeks Crystal brings over fitness equipment for the pups to experience. She's always varying what skills we're working on while still giving one-on-one feedback. And if I have special request for a skill, I just email her.
Do you really learn anything at these classes?
Besides continuing to work with Lizzie on basic obedience skills with increased distance, duration, and distraction, I've used the park class as an opportunity to work on Lizzie's reactivity and fear. After having a few different children run at her at the dog park, Lizzie became barkier than ever. She's already on-edge whenever she's on a leash, but if children are nearby, she gets even more vocally upset.
At dog obedience park class, there are kids playing sports, other kids are training their dog, and some kids walk by on the sidewalk. I will usually spend a portion of the park class, just working with Lizzie on remaining calm as other people, including the little people, go about their day.
These classes truly have strengthened my bond with my Missy Moo. Whenever she and I walk out to the car, she knows she's getting special one-on-one time. During class, she's usually having fun, mainly because she's treat-motivated and smart. She'll figure out what she's supposed to be doing pretty quickly. After class, if the weather is nice, we'll walk around the park, or if the playscapes are empty, I'll let her jump on the playground equipment.
How much do these park classes cost?
Crystal offers incredibly affordable pricing for these classes. You can buy 6 sessions for $125 or you can pay $25 per drop-in class. She emails anyone interested during the week to get a head count on who plans to attend that weekend and she lists supplies to bring. These supplies are nothing fancy, usually treats, water, maybe a long training lead or a favorite toy.
If you would like your dog trainer to offer a more schedule-accommodating obedience class like this public park class, please consider sharing this post with them.