Choosing Training Classes
There are several different types of classes available for puppies. There are basic pet classes which are for any dog who needs to learn basic obedience. Check to see what age they will start your puppy. You will want to get into classes as early as possible. There is puppy kindergarten (not to be confused with a puppy play group) which usually includes pups from 8 weeks up to 6 or 8 months. These classes are ideal for puppy socialization. Look for PK classes which will start you on some of the basic commands such as "come", "sit", "down", and walk on leash. These classes should give insightful information on living with your new puppy. Then there are classes which specialize in specific competitive events. For example: puppy training for agility or starting obedience training for competition may be offered in your area. It's best to start with a basic set of classes where you will gain control before you step into the specialized classes.
To find a trainer or obedience school try to contact other PWD owners in your area. You can also find classes through your veterinarian. If there is a Kennel Club or training club nearby they may have classes available for puppies. Your local shelter may have names of qualified instructors, or go on line to www.APDT.com (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) for a list of dog instructors in your area. Private lessons are fine especially to help you learn but group classes are invaluable for socializing your puppy. Today there are many different ways of training dogs. Some are called motivational methods and utilize treats and lures to gain success. There is a method which uses a clicker much like dolphin trainers use. Then there are the older methods involving corrections and praise. In general dogs will learn with all of these methods but many PWD trainers find they prefer the more motivational approaches using food rewards or clicker training. Picking a suitable class and instructor will require you to observe a class before you enroll. If that is not possible find someone who has gone through the full course and can recommend a set of classes. When observing, ask yourself are the dogs enjoying the class? Is the training advice presented in an understandable way and seem sensible to you? Is the instructor available for questions after the class? Are there enough assistants so that help can be given to each student? Will you be comfortable with the teaching methods that the trainer utilizes?
Most obedience classes are there to teach you how to teach your dog. Once you have committed to a class you will see amazing progress, but only if you stick with it and do your homework away from class sessions.