On pick-up day, you will want to make sure you have allotted 45 minutes to an hour for discussing the finer details of the training, and try not to let too many distractions pull you away from spending that time with your trainer. Too many people show up to pick up their dog and have little to no respect or apparent time for what the trainer has to say and what they have done with their pup. The folks that don’t focus on that time with the trainer almost always have complaints and tend to blame the trainer for not doing their job. Have the common courtesy to wait, watch, and listen. Remove distractions and focus on training with your dog and your professional trainer.
So, you are on your way to pick up your pup and you’ve coordinated a time to see them with the trainer. Normally, we try and have the dog out and working with the owner at a distance so that the owner can see their dog work and interface with the trainer. Here is the deal – your pup will be so excited when they realize you are there (and remember, you are a whole new stimulation showing up because now they have to perform with you there), they will do whatever it takes to see you and get to you. Sadly, if your dog reacts this way you won’t be able to see as full of a picture of their current progress as you would have hoped.
Spend some time talking through next steps with your trainer: positives and negatives, weaknesses and strengths, and any concerns with the trainer. Please don’t be alarmed when they tell you about any attitude or behavioral issues they have discovered, it’s all part of the learning process. No one is perfect, and likewise, no dog is perfect, either. It’s always interesting to see what trainers really think about your dog in comparison with other dogs. They have no real reason to lie to you, but either way, tell them to be brutally honest with you. It is always wise to have a full picture of what your dog is doing, how they are behaving, and how they progress through training. You will want to set aside a portion of your time to work through the basic commands with your trainer and your dog. This way, you can get a feel for how your dog is working in the program and attain a foundation of how to work obedience with your dog now that you two are going home, together.
When you are heading home with your dog after an extended period of time away, contemplate what your pup has accomplished. Ponder how they have progressed in not only the commands, but also the cues and manners and remember the things that still need to be addressed. Most importantly, keep a clear head about where they are and not where you think they should be in their training. All dogs learn at different rates. We are pursuing proficiency, not necessarily perfection within a month long obedience course. You will want to make sure the weaknesses have been addressed and that the progression is where it needs to be. It’s not uncommon to extend the stay +/- a few days to address a few items regarding their knowledge base or behavioral concerns. So the best bet is to go with the flow and use that trust you’ve built with your trainer.
Express any concerns you have before you leave and make sure to let them know how you feel about the job they’ve completed. It’s easy to say, “wow, great job and thanks” and then turn around and write a bad review for ignorant issues that you may not have a full grasp of. Nothing was accomplished by doing this other than making you feel good, and damaging a potentially valuable and rewarding relationship. It’s difficult for most people to address concerns, but I urge you to talk carefully and directly with your trainer and focus on coming to a sense of satisfaction based on what is realistically attainable for your pup.