Your first class
Please contact us by email or telephone if you are interested in joining Four Paws. Don't just turn up, unless you simply want to view a class.
What to bring
Our suggestions, below, will help you make the best of your training from day one. But don't worry if there is something new to you, your trainer can tell you what equipment is best for your dog when you meet.
Identification for your dog
By law, your dog must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it. The point of a tag is that the dog can be easily returned to their owner if lost, so the address should be your full postal address. See examples of the Kennel Club's advice on a legal tag by clicking here. It is not a legal requirement to include your telephone number, but we strongly advise it.
If you want to order a tag through Four Paws, just ask at our reception desk.
By law, your dog must be microchipped. Don't forget to update your details if you move house.
Clearing up after your dog
Please bring something with which to clear up after your dogs if they make a mess.
Please bring your dog's vaccination record to the first session.
We train outside, and in most weathers, so please dress appropriately for this, especially if it is cold or raining! (Occasionally, we cancel due to poor weather. Please look out for an email or telephone message, and check the front page of the website, if the weather is bad. We will use one or all of those methods to get a message to you.)
Good leads for training are material (or soft leather) leads, five to seven feet long. Leads shorter than this are unsuitable for heel and recall exercises. Some pet shops only stock short leads (or retractable ones), but many internet sites sell suitable length leads.
Chain leads, all-in-one collar with attached lead, and retractable leads are not suitable for training classes. Rope leads are okay, but not as kind on the hands as leads described as weave, webbing, webbed, canvas, nylon, or synthetic.
Do make sure your lead is strong enough for your dog, and not fraying at any point.
We have some leads available for loan. Please return them. In the classes, we may use very long leads for some training exercises. The trainer will supply these.
Nylon, woven and leather collars or harnesses are fine. Many people find that a harness works best if there is a ring on the chest of the dog where you can attach the lead. This gives you more control if your dog currently pulls on lead. No check chains please. Half checks are permitted.
Do ensure your dog's collar is fitted well. The collar should not be too tight – you should be able to slip two fingers between the dog's neck and the collar. It should not be too loose – your dog should not be able to get out of the collar by pulling backwards.
Please bring any special training aids if you already use them, such as a head collar, special harness or double lead. However, it would be good to bring an ordinary collar or harness as well.
You and your voice! Your pleasure is one of the best rewards for your dog. And it's always available, and free. Try praising your dog with a soft but high pitched, encouraging voice. And if your dog likes cuddles ... go ahead! However, we encourage you to bring two other types of reward as well:
Tit-bits. Bring some easily handled tit-bits which you can keep in your pocket or a treat bag. Commercial tit-bits are okay if really tasty, but most are pretty bland (no matter what it says on the pack!). Better possibilities are cheese, gammon, roast meat, bacon, or sausage. Pieces about 1/4 inch cubed are good. DO NOT bring tit-bits that crumble because they fall on the ground and distract all the dogs – be careful to check that cheese is not crumbly, and remember that chicken breast is usually too flaky. We stronly recommend using a treat bag which you can access very easily, as rewards should be given very soon after your dog gets it right.
(A word of warning: check the ingredients of commercial tit-bits. If you want to protect your dog's teeth, avoid giving many tit-bits containing sugar.)
Toys. Bring a toy or two. Please bring non-squeaky toys only. Even if your dog doesn't use toys, you could still bring one – perhaps we can teach you how to use play. We will have a supply of toys available, but your own dog's favourite is best!
Your trainer will show you how to use rewards to train your dog.
When you arrive at our venue, find the canopied stall in the car park, and introduce yourself. We will register you, and direct you to your first class ... and then you can go and enjoy training your dog!
It helps if you avoid being close to other dogs until you get to know them. Some dogs find socialising difficult when they first come, and they need space.
Please keep your dog on a lead whenever you are in the car park. That area is not secure.
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