Guide to finding a good training class

First Contact

You should be able to speak to the trainer themselves or another person who can give you appropriate information.  If you book online, someone should call you back to discuss your needs rather than simply being slotted into a class.

This person should be able to explain the methods used in class and justify them in terms of current research into dog cognition, emotion, behaviour and training.  They should also explain any equipment recommended.

They should provide you with a client and dog profile to complete and discuss this with you before you attend a class with your dog.

Class numbers

Delta Institute recommends 4 puppies in a baby puppy class (up to 6 if space permits and there are at least 2 trainers) and 6 older dogs (up to 8 with 2 trainers).  The larger the class the less opportunity the trainer has to get to know you and your dog and the greater chance that the class will be generic, rather than catering to the specific needs of class members. 

The Venue

All classes for puppies who have not completed their vaccinations should be held on a disinfectable surface.  While these are usually held at veterinary practices, other venues may be appropriate.  There should be adequate space to avoid physical contact when puppies walk to the end of their leads.  If at a veterinary practice, classes should take place out of hours and there should be alternative arrangements so that after hours clients do not enter the class.  There should be sufficient seating for all participants. 

Classes for older dogs are usually held in larger venues – most in Australia are held outdoors but some may be in community halls or undercover areas.  There should be few or no distractions – if in a public area, the trainer should have contingency plans to manage this. There must be sufficient seating and space between dogs.

The Trainer

While formal qualifications in dog behaviour and training are desirable they are not mandatory.  As the industry is unregulated, those conducting training may call themselves experts or specialists without any formal education level, so be sure to investigate the experience, education and training philosophy of the trainer.  Experience in training security dogs or in the services does not necessarily qualify trainers to conduct companion dog classes.  A trainer with a formal nationally recognised qualification such as the Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services or the Certificate IV in Animal Behaviour and Training are positive indicators of the standard of education and professionalism that you should be seeking. 

The Program

The puppy or foundation program should be a defined length and the trainer should explain what you can expect to achieve by its conclusion.  You should receive written notes and homework.

The trainer should have each lesson planned before the program commences but should retain flexibility to change this to suit the needs of class members.

The program should focus on real world exercises rather than the stricter form of competitive obedience.  Exercises should include sit and down and walking on a loose lead rather than heel.  The trainer should also be able to advise on common issues that guardians experience e.g. toilet training and mouthing for puppies, and jumping up and walking nicely for older dogs. Their recommendations should not be punishment based, they should focus on teaching appropriate behaviour and rewarding it.

It is highly desirable that the first lesson is held without dogs or puppies. This ensures that class members can concentrate on the class material and they are informed on important issues like class entry and exits, how to manage their dogs at the next class etc.  It also allows the trainer to get to know clients and discuss their needs.  A competent trainer may recommend private lessons at this stage for dogs who may have issues in group classes.

The trainer should establish and maintain a calm atmosphere in class with dogs relaxing on mats when not performing active exercises.  They should focus on assisting guardians to “read” their dogs’ body language and respond to it before the dog becomes concerned.  Class focus should be on calm relaxed behaviour of people and dogs at all times.

Referrals

Companion dog training classes are not suitable for all dogs.  Some dogs may have issues with their behaviour which are not resolvable with training. Trainers should have a referral network to assist guardians of these dogs.  This network should include veterinarians and veterinary behaviour consultants.

Summary

Dog training classes play an important role, not just in training dogs but also in educating guardians to manage their dogs responsibly.  Classes should be fun and productive for both guardians and dogs alike.

Why Choose a Delta Institute Dog Trainer?

Delta Institute and Delta Instituted certified dog trainers are committed to dog training using only positive reinforcement (force free) methods and to enriching the relationships between people and their canine friends.

Graduates of our nationally recognised Delta Institute Certificate IV courses are fully qualified to run puppy and adult dog classes, provide one-on-one behavioural consultations.

All trainers listed here:

  • have successfully completed the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services

  • agree to adhere to the Delta Institute Code of Ethics

  • agree to adhere to Delta Institute Best Practice guidelines

  • commit to continuing education and professional development

  • commit to setting the standard for professional dog trainers in Australia

  • Trainers listed as Accredited CGC™ Award trainers have completed the associated Delta training program.

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Delta Institute members are approved to display the Delta Members logo when advertising their business and can use the following post nominals:

  • AMDI - Associate Member of the Delta Institute.  These trainers are members of the Delta Institute and have competed a nationally accredited course with us, but are not currently providing dog training services.

  • MDI (CPDT) - Member of the Delta Institute (Certified Professional Dog Trainer). These trainers are members of the Delta Institute, have competed a nationally accredited courses with us and are actively providing dog training services.

Find a Trainer

You can search by the name of the trainer's business, by the area they service, by the type of training they offer - or any combination of the three.