Do you know what happens in a good puppy class? Many people think puppy class is all about playtime and teaching a bit of basic obedience.
Positive puppy interactions are part of puppy class. But these must be carefully orchestrated and supervised so all pups are comfortable and come away with great experiences. Too often pups are mismatched, and interactions are overwhelming or poorly managed.
And while teaching some basic behaviours can be helpful, showing our pups that learning is fun is more essential than SIT, DOWN or STAY.
So, what are my top picks for puppy class, and what makes one great?
Learn about body language and how your dog communicates.
It’s shocking how many people don’t understand their dogs or recognize warning or stress signals. Reading body language helps keep our dogs comfortable, avoid conflict and makes us better trainers. It is an essential skill for parents that should be part of puppy class.
Recognize challenges or potential issues early.
Addressing behaviour early before it escalates or becomes a habit makes it much easier for both the parent and the pup. Issues are often missed or handled inappropriately. Dealing with them properly, in a timely way leads to a better outcome. Getting feedback and specific guidance for your puppy is invaluable.
Parents learn how to socialize their pups safely.
This one’s a biggy. You might think, “What’s the big deal? Just let the pup play with other dogs!” This common misbelief is why so many dogs grow up to be over-aroused, fearful and reactive. Meeting or playing with other dogs is only a tiny piece of the pie. Socialization involves SO much more. And knowing how to do it properly is crucial as well.
A young puppy class maximizes the early imprinting phase.
This is the most crucial and critical time in a dog’s life. Many lessons are time-sensitive, so having a knowledgeable, experienced teacher to guide you through what’s important and what’s not is essential. Parents often waste time working on stuff that can wait or has little value.
Learn what good dog-dog interactions look like.
Assessing your pup and other dogs to manage and supervise interactions is necessary to keep your dog safe and comfortable and encourage good interactions as they mature – giving our young dogs the best chance to be socially comfortable. Every day I see dogs struggling through interactions, with parents standing by, apparently oblivious. Understanding how to set up polite and comfortable interactions and knowing when to pass on them will reduce stress and potential reactivity.
Common issues like resource guarding are addressed.
Most puppies come home with some degree of resource guarding, but it often is only noticed when the dog enters adolescence. Teaching our pups how to interact with people around precious items will reduce conflict and the risk of injury. Without proper guidance, this is another issue that is often missed or handled inappropriately
Set up best practices and lessons to prevent separation anxiety.
This is an issue that is unfortunately quite common and can be life-altering. A dog that is not comfortable being left for reasonable lengths of time will have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Knowing how to avoid common mishaps and what to do in the first weeks at home will help a young puppy learn to gain independence and be confident on their own.
Learn what your pup needs to become a happy, relaxed family member.
Obedience was once thought to be the solution for everything, but there’s more to raising dogs. Along with building confidence, other skills are more valuable in developing a polite and calm dog. A good puppy class will focus on these rather than basic behaviours in regular training.
So, that’s actually 10 great things that happen in a good puppy class! Can you see that although puppy class can be fun and games, it is also serious business? Finding an experienced, knowledgeable trainer who uses kind and humane methods to guide you through essential lessons is crucial. Keeping you focused on what matters and helping you negotiate the inevitable challenges that all parents have with their pups will make your first months together less stressful AND more productive. And who wants to miss out on valuable tips specific to your pup and situation? A good puppy class is worth its weight in gold and is the most beneficial and impactful class in your dog’s life.
Do you have a young puppy? Would you like to learn more? Let chat!