When new clients contact you, generally the first thing you will be asked about is classes you offer. Most people don’t even think about private training. Knowing whether to guide your clients in the direction of classes or private sessions will help your clients get the most bang for their buck.
Though there are some incredibly well-run “Reactive Rover” type classes out there, for dogs that cannot be in the same building/vicinity of other dogs or people, classes can just be too much and there will be little to no benefit. Help the client get a solid foundation on the dog through private sessions. If the dog and owner have zero foundation skills, they will struggle in a group class setting.
Young And/Or Untrained Dog
Beginner Obedience classes are probably the most utilized class out there, but are they always the best option? So often, the massive distraction of other dogs and people all combined make it difficult for a young or untrained dog to focus on their owner. Doing even one or two private sessions before putting a dog into a class can make a monumental difference in their ability to focus and benefit from the class.
Owner Needs Special Attention
There are some clients that, for a myriad of reasons, would benefit from one-on-one instruction. Putting an owner like this into a group class just wouldn’t be fair or beneficial to them. This type of owner craves your full attention which cannot be provided in a group class setting. Spend some time with them in private sessions so they can be confident in their abilities before you transition them into a group class.
Specific Training Issue
If you have a client that has attended group classes and continues to have problems getting his/her dog to do a certain behavior, a private session may be in order. This will enable you to focus all of your attention on them and see what the problem may be so you can help them fix it.
Housetraining, intra-household dog aggression, cat/dog issues – many of these are problems that can’t always be solved in a group class. These often require you to go to a client’s home and help them enact feasible management while they work on behavior modification.
What other times do you recommend private sessions versus group classes to your clients?