Training Classes Available
Most trainers offer a variety of training classes, depending on the level of dog. For example, if your rottie is a puppy younger than six months, he should probably first attend a puppy kindergarten or KPT session. The following is a short list of what a trainer might offer at her facility:
Puppy kindergarten: Socialization and training for young puppies
Beginning obedience: Training for older puppies and adult dogs
Novice obedience: Training for novice-level competition
Open obedience: Training for open-level competition
Utility obedience: Training for utility competition
Conformation: Training for dog shows or the conformation ring
Agility (beginners and advanced): Training for the sport of agility, in which the dog must traverse an obstacle course in a set amount of time
Tracking: Training for tracking titles, which require the dog to follow a path and look for certain “articles”
Herding: Training to actually herd sheep, ducks, or cattle
Flyball: Training for the fast-paced, timed sport of flyball, in which the dog jumps over several hurdles, hits the flyball box, catches a tennis ball as it flies through the air, and returns over the hurdles
Clicker training: Training method using clickers to reinforce the behavior you want
Attention: Training method in which you teach the dog to focus on you
Canine Good Citizen: training class to prepare your dog for his CGC certificate
What is clicker training?
Clicker training is a type of positive reinforcement training in which the dog associates the click of the clicker with a treat you give him afterward. The click is a more definite reinforcement than saying “Good dog!” at the time of the action you want to reinforce.
When you start training your rottie, you'll want to sign up for either puppy kindergarten or basic obedience. Training classes are usually one hour a week for six to twelve weeks, depending on the class. They're held at the same time each week and usually have anywhere from three to twelve in a class. Let's look at some of the classes.
Puppy kindergarten is a great way to socialize your rottie puppy. It helps socialize him to situations you may not normally be able to expose him to. Your puppy gets to interact with other puppies and their owners so that it helps socialize him and makes him well adjusted. You may also teach your puppy to respond to clickers (a positive reinforcement training device) and may even teach him a few simple commands such as “Sit” and “Down.” Puppy kindergarten is usually for puppies younger than six months.
Beginning obedience teaches most of the basic commands: “Sit,” “Down,” “Come,” “Heel,” “Stay,” and “Stand.” This class is usually used as a precursor to novice obedience classes.
Beginning obedience either leads up to novice training or may work toward training your dog to be a good pet. Some beginning obedience classes work toward a Canine Good Citizen certificate, but most work on the fundamentals of obedience training and general house manners. These classes are usually for dogs older than six months.
Novice obedience is the first step in competitive obedience. Your rottie can earn his Companion Dog (CD) title when he competes in the novice ring. Novice class is for those who wish to compete in the AKC novice obedience trials and earn their Companion Dog certificate.
This class is structured toward training your dog in the fundamentals of the novice ring and practicing just as though you were competing in the novice class. It includes heeling on leash in a pattern, heeling in a figure eight, stand/stay for examination by the judge, sit, down, recall and finish, heeling off-leash in a pattern, long sit/stay (one minute), and long down/stay (three minutes).
Be wary of the trainer who has no titles on her dog. How can she possibly teach you in competitive training if she's never finished a dog in a competitive sport?
The Canine Good Citizen
The Canine Good Citizen test is offered through the AKC. Any dog, purebred or mixed breed, can compete for a CGC title. The test is pass or fail. The dog must pass all ten tests to qualify for the CGC title. The good news is that if your rottie fails the CGC, he can retake it at any time without penalties. These tests include accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, appearance and grooming, walking on a loose lead, walking through a crowd, sit and down on command, staying in place, coming when called, reaction to another dog, reaction to distraction, and supervised separation.