So Covid-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted here in the UK. I have been looking at starting group training again. Although, I have really enjoyed training people and their dogs on a 121 basis.
It got me thinking about why we train in groups vs why we train on a 121 basis.
Group training pros are that it is great for meeting new people and dogs. It allows interaction with other dog families and it also allows me to make more money on an hourly basis. Although, that being said there is also the problem of paying for venues and all that includes.
You can stick to a prescriptive method of training and offer advanced or basic behaviours to dogs who need stretching and those that struggle.
Group training cons are that if someone is not picking up a behaviour or they are struggling I have a maximum of 10 minutes per hour for that person and their dog.
Other people in the group are wanting to move on so they end up either getting left behind or skipping that behaviour altogether – Not a great recipe and whilst I can spend time with them after class or via 121 it kinda defeats the object of the group class.
Also, it is very difficult to know the play styles of puppies until their first session and if they don’t have similar play styles I then cancel play times which can upset their families as they want group classes for socialisation. Problem is that socialisation shouldn’t be having your puppy pinned down under another because it will only become fearful and then you have a bigger problem on your hands.
121 training pros – I can dedicate the entire time to you and your dog. We can discuss behaviours and really look into why you are finding a particular behaviour difficult to master. I build a much better relationship with you and your dog. This means that most of the time we can have a great, open conversation about how to improve.
As long as all the subject matter is covered in the 4 or 6 week course we can take our time to ensure everything is being done at your pace. If we don’t cover a subject for any reason it may not be a big deal as it allows me to prioritise your training plan. We can also look at an ongoing training plan and devise a further course to get you to where you want to be so the whole thing becomes more fluid and bespoke.
We train in a public park and that allows your dog to socialise with other dogs they meet, I also know them and their families so can determine who you should meet and who you should avoid.
I think clients tend to relax more in a 121 setting and will ask a lot more questions than in a group setting.
For dogs that are more nervous, 121 training is great for bringing out their confidence and allowing them the time and space to train for situations rather than in a situation.
121 Cons are that I don’t earn as much from 121s even though the cost to my client seems more they are getting an hour of my time instead of effectively 10 minutes.
Some clients may feel that they are not meeting enough dog owners to become friends with or share their community so to counteract that we can run socialisation walks for people to mix and see each other. This will also help their puppies/dogs become more sociable in a managed environment.
In summary, group training vs 121 training, I believe 121 training is more effective and has greater success rates. Therefore, my decision has been to move Pets Great and Small to being a 121 training establishment specialising in life skills dog training for the coming year. This is immediately effective and I will be contacting all my clients to discuss.
Any that are on hold for group training will have the option of upgrading to 121 or I will put together a group to finish their training as a one off.