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What Group Class is Best For You!

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

As a Dog Trainer for Craig A. Murray Dog School, I am fortunate to see the constant improvements in the relationship between an owner and their dog. Working through a course together and learning new skills, exercises and abilities together as a team can have huge positive effects for building stronger engagement and a more harmonious relationship between the two. At our Craig A. Murray Dog School, we offer a range of different classes. Some classes are better suited than other depending on the priorities or requirements an owner may wish to start with. Puppy School Puppy School is primarily focused on socialising puppies between 8-16 weeks of age. Our course allows the puppies to learn how to interact with other pups of a similar age but with different personalities. Through these interactions they learn the vital skills of how to read body language as well as how to display the correct body language when interacting with different charactered dogs. This skill is an important attribute for the dog and can assist in decreasing the likelihood of altercations occurring with other dogs later in life. When faced with the interaction of a more dominant dog a correctly socialised dog may avert eye contact, lower its head or body slightly (for example) signalling to the dominant dog they are not challenging their dominance. This initial interaction can then lead to play bows and a positive interaction between the two. An unsocialised dog may display very incorrect behaviour when interacting with other dogs such as excessive vocalising, jumping up into the face of other dogs, urinating or shaking (for example). The best way to explain it in human terms is to imagine a scenario when meeting a new person; should they offer their hand to shake, making eye contact and smiling the interaction is now likely to be comfortable and pleasant. If the person approached you with a frown and stood too closely to you then poked you in the eye this would not be a pleasant encounter. Even as a Trainer I still ensure my pups attend Puppy School – albeit my own classes! Socialisation is a very important piece to their development of which cannot be “trained” as such. There are added benefits of attending a Craig A. Murray Dog Training Puppy School. While we have you there we take opportunity to load you up with all of the information you are likely to need in order to raise your puppy into a well-balanced adult dog. We also offer further levels of training, this means that should you find an interest or have a desire to continue training your pup we are a “One Stop Shop” for all your training needs while having a history with you and your individual dog. Manners Training Manners Training is focused on rules, boundaries, structure and control around the home with a focus on building engagement from the dog back on to the owner. This course promotes calm behaviour from the dog while in the company of other dogs, people and outside stimulation. In this course we teach the dogs to be aware of personal space, wait at doorways and boundaries, defer from articles which may have been dropped rather than picking them up, not pulling on the lead, as well as covering important topics such as mouthing & biting, attention seeking behaviours and shaping behaviour. A favourite among owners is the Mat Training exercise which allows owners to send their dog a particular placement; like a bed or mat and the dog remain there regardless of distractions – for example, a guest knocks on the door, the owner sends the dog to their training mat, the owner then allows the guest in to their home and the dog remains on their mat. This then allows the guest to approach the dog to give a pat and say hello rather than being jumped on or crowded by the dog. When the owner feels ready and comfortable the dog can be released from the mat. Certain situations which may have once been stressful or inconvenient can now be easy and harmonious. We pride ourselves on equipping the owner with better handling skills, better control, and a broader understanding of their dog’s behaviour and how to manage it. I find many owners make comments of feeling more capable as an owner to achieve their desired results in the relationship they have with their dog. Foundation Obedience Our first level of obedience is known as Foundation Obedience. This is a group course where all of the formal structure obedience exercises are covered. Exercises covered include teaching the dog to watch where the owner is walking and to walk beside the owner on a loose lead. A formal Heel position which is where the dog walks on our left side with it’s should in line with our leg. We teach the Sit, Drop and Stand positions as well as teaching the Stay command from each of these positions. We teach the stay command at all directions to the end of the lead and incorporate distractions along the way. Finally, we teach a form Recall and Mat Training is also included in this course as explained with the Manners Training. The biggest change I see from week 1 to week 5 is that the dogs AND the owners are calmer. I often meet owners at week 1 who are feeling stressed and anxious about having their dog around other dogs as they are either unsure of how their dog will respond to the environment or they are embarrassed by their dog’s behaviour. I love to watch the clients walk in at the end of the course with confidence and a smile with a very calm and happy dog strutting beside them. Many of my clients explain to me that walking the dog is like a chore and that there is no enjoyment in it anymore. This saddens me! Walking your dog should be something you look forward to – it should be something you want to do after a long or rough day to unwind. I feel that there are many owners out there who feel lost, embarrassed or frustrated, and who have forgotten that it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience to spend time outside of the home with your dog. Our Foundation Obedience graduates are more focused onto their owner, they follow commands while in the company of other dogs and people and have a higher level of compliance and respect for the owner. In turn the owner has more confidence in their dog’s reliability to not lose focus when distractions arise and is more aware of their dog’s capabilities often expressing a keen interest and excitement in seeing what else they can learn to do! Dogs that pull on the lead, lose focus from their owner when stimulation or distraction levels are increased, do not listen to their owner’s commands, listen to commands but do not follow them, will follow commands but only when a treat is involved are well suited to a Foundation Obedience Course. Owners who are wanting to gain more control and build better manners in their dog – for example stopping their dog jumping on them and/or guests, overly excited greetings, toilet training, come when called etc. would be well suited to a Manners Training Course. We often find clients partake in one course and then move on to another course to learn new or higher level exercises. For clients wanting specifically more engagement from their dog we offer Tricks Training classes too! For owners who feel they need extra attention or training for a specific behaviour we offer private one-on-one training. Our trainers are a well-educated friendly team of people who want to help you strive to get the best from your individual dog. We are each trained to a high standard and have a sincere passion in ensuring the happy and healthy bond between the dog and the owner are maintained and flourish wherever possible. You can feel welcome to give any of us a call to discuss different training options, even if you are unsure of what would be best suited to you and your dog – we will be happy to help. Craig A. Murray Dog Training

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