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Obedience School vs. Home Training for Dogs

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Dog training is an important part of owning a dog—whether that dog is intended to be a household pet, a guard dog, or a service dog. Training allows for a dog to learn social etiquette; in other words, what types of behaviors are acceptable for the dog, in addition to commands that can help keep the dog safe. The most common types of training for dogs are obedience training and behavioral training. Obedience training refers to training related to commands, such as “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Lay Down.” Obedience training is intended to teach a dog to obey commands. Behavioral training, on the other hand, refers to training that corrects unwanted behaviors while replacing them with acceptable behaviors. For example, teaching a dog not to go to the bathroom inside the house.

Obedience_School_vsWhen a pet owner needs to train their dog, they have two primary options: home training or obedience school. Home training, as the name suggests, refers to training which is done by the pet owner in the dog’s home environment. Most pet owners choose home training because it is free. However, some pet owners choose obedience school. Obedience school refers to any service offered with the intention to train a dog in some capacity. Obedience schools range from afternoon classes at pet stores for puppies that need to learn basic commands and behaviors, all the way to established, professional obedience schools for dogs that need to learn advanced behaviors related to services—such as disabled assistance dogs or police dogs.

Should pet owners choose home training or obedience training? The answer depends on several factors, including: what the dog needs to learn, how effective the pet owner is at training, and the breed and personality of the dog.

Many dogs only need to learn basic commands, like “sit,” “come here,” “heel,” and so on. In most circumstances, dogs that only need to learn simple commands may not need the more specialized training that an obedience school provides. This is not always the case, however. Pet owners who are inexperienced at dog training may require help in the form of an obedience school that can teach them exactly what they need to do; some dogs, such as more independent breeds like the Pekingese, may cause pet owners to seek the help of professionals with experience in training dogs to help them overcome their dog’s stubborn streak. Pet owners may find that obedience school settings help their dogs socialize better as well, especially if their dog would otherwise not encounter other dogs or strange people.

When a dog needs to learn advanced commands and behaviors, obedience school is almost always the correct choice. Dogs which are going to be used for service positions, such as seeing-eye dogs or dogs that work with police officers, should be professionally trained at an obedience school with the experience and knowledge necessary to train them properly. Many service-oriented obedience schools do combine obedience school training with at home training—but “at home training” is done by volunteers, employees or professionals who are themselves trained to handle more advanced types of dog training.