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By: Jace MacDonald

Short answer to this question is no.

Even though group training classes are very popular and most of the time “cheap”, they are not very beneficial to the dog or to you as the owners.

Let’s list out some Pros and Cons to help you see why I label group classes as bad for dog training.


  1. Socialization and environmental exposure for your dog
  2. Distractions for your training
  3. Affordable – usually $20-$50 per class
  4. Chance to meet new people and dogs and make friends
  5. The ability to say “I’ve taken my dog to training”


  1. Socialization and environmental exposure for your dog
  2. Distractions for training
  3. Inability to work on specific issues
  4. No 1 on 1 training between you and the trainer
  5. Short class times – usually 30-45min long
  6. Lots of information covered in those short class times
  7. Bad environment for dogs with reactivity or behavioral issues
  8. Crowded rooms (some classes I’ve seen 20+ people and their dogs)

Okay, so now that we have our lists, let’s talk about them a little.

As you probably noticed there are not as many Pros as there is Cons. Also, you may have noticed that the first two items on the Pros and Cons list are the same!

The reason why I listed those as both Pros and Cons is because, yes, socialization is good for your dog, and exposing them to different environments is great. However, in group classes, usually the people and dogs that are there are inexperienced and misbehaving. That’s why they are at training! Those are not the types of dogs and people you want your dog to be around when you’re trying to teach it how to behave appropriately. More likely than not, you and your dog will have rough experiences, or your dog will learn inappropriate behaviors by interacting with the other dogs.

The other one I listed on both is Distractions, and this is a big one!

Are Distractions good for your dog in the training process?


But Distractions are only good AFTER you have shown and taught your dog the behaviors you wanted. We call this Proofing the dog’s behaviors.

When you have a whole bunch of distractions, or other motivating factors, while you are trying to teach something new to your dog, it is near impossible for them to learn anything at all let alone learn it well.

Imagine you are a grade school teacher and you take your 3rd grade class to an amusement park. With the smell of cotton candy, and funnel cakes, and hot dogs in the air. As well as the thrill and joy and excitement boiling up inside those kids to want to go on all the rides. Now, imagine trying to get those kids to settle down, ignore everything around them, focus on you and teach them their multiplications table.

You and the kids will probably not be very successful, and if anything, both parties will become frustrated very quickly. The same thing happens to owners and their dogs in group classes. It is not a good environment for learning.

Now Distraction can be a Pro because AFTER you have trained your dog and taught it all its behaviors, you can then practice them in a distracting environment to make them better. If you try to add those distractions too quickly though, you will find extreme difficulty it training your dog.

The rest of the Pros on that list are self-explanatory

As for the rest of the Cons, we have, Inability to work on specific issues and no 1 on 1 attention.

Many times in group classes there is one instructor and anywhere between 5-25 students. The instructor will usually be following a certain curriculum as well.

This means that the instructor has to try and explain and educate up to 25 people at the same time, leaving you as a student with many questions and little time for proper explanation, or the ability to get those questions answered.

Because they usually follow a curriculum, if the things you need help with that are maybe specific to your dog, are not covered, then you will have wasted your time and money.

Lastly, most group classes have reactive dogs in them, meaning dogs that lunge or bark and disrupt the class due to either excitement, fear, or aggression. You then put 2 or 3 of these dogs into a crowded room, and it makes for a disaster of an experience, for both the instructor and the students.

So, as you see, I think there are way more Cons that outweigh the benefits of the Pros. I hope my explanations of these reasons can help you understand my reasoning.

What I would suggest you do to get the right training for you and your dog, is start with private lessons. Get a few of those under your belt, some good 1 on 1 time with a professional trainer to help teach you and your dog the basics.

Then if most of your issues are not resolved or you find it too difficult to train your dog (because dog training is not easy) then Board and Train options are also a great way to get good results. Leave it to the professionals to train your dog, and then have them work with you on teaching YOU the human on how to maintain it.

After that, perhaps group classes will be a good way for you to practice and maintain your dog’s behaviors in a distracting environment.


If you read this blog because you were thinking of doing group classes, or wanted to know if they were the right fit for you, then I hope this information will help guide you in your decision! 

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