Puppy classes are more than just teaching your dog a few tricks. Both of you will learn so much about each other, how to communicate and understand each other, and what to expect of each other. This will also help you to build a stronger bond with your puppy, which is why it is so crucial that you attend puppy classes together.
Benefits of puppy classes
There are many benefits of attending the classes, which include:
- Your puppy will learn about communication and what you want from him.
- Due to your dog’s training, he will be well-behaved and able to attend functions, such as competitions and dog shows, and enjoy walks in the park.
- Not only are the weekly classes an outing for the two of you, but the instructor can guide and advise you on how to handle your puppy. This builds a working relationship between the two of you, and you won’t have to be embarrassed by your dog in public places where dogs are allowed.
- Your puppy will be well-mannered and know what is expected of him. The training will teach him clear guidelines and rules to follow, and he will be less likely to develop behavioural problems.
- When your puppy is mentally stimulated and taught from an early age, he will develop a love of learning and will enjoy it for the rest of his life. Both of you will find it rewarding to learn new things together.
- The physical stimulation from the training classes is crucial to your puppy’s development.
- Your puppy will be less fearful and defensive, and more confident, while learning how to overcome problems and challenges with people and other dogs.
- The classes are also fun and entertaining. It will strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Finding a puppy school
Look for a puppy school with trainers who are registered with reputable organisations, like COAPE (Centre of Applied Pet Ethology) SA, COAPS Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists and Trainers SA, or ThinkingPets Guild, or who are practitioner members of the Animal Behaviour Consultants (ABC) of SA. Do some research and ensure that the trainers are qualified to teach your puppy accordingly. Ask for references and contact the relevant people to get their reviews.
Also, see if the premises are clean and safe for the puppies. The puppies will spend time off lead and you don’t want to place your puppy in an unsafe situation. There should be enough room for the dogs to move freely, but not so much space that your puppy can get lost.
Check if the puppies attending the class are vaccinated. If not, do you really want to expose your furbaby to potential health risks? It is just so much safer if the school requires all dogs to be vaccinated first – and if they check the dogs’ vet cards.
Ideally, the classes should only have four to six puppies under the care of one instructor, so that each puppy and owner get individual attention. Structure and control of the classes are fundamental to ensure that the puppies and their parents get the most out of the training.
If you feel that there is no discipline in the classes and that the puppies can do as they please, or if the training is not positive reinforcement- and reward-based, then rather find another puppy school.
What to expect
- Attending puppies should be younger than 16 weeks.
- There should be dogs from various breeds, as your puppy needs to meet all shapes and sizes of dogs.
- Positive reinforcement- and reward-based training methods should be used.
- Basic obedience is taught, with easy commands, like ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’.
- All pet parents are included in the education process.
- It should be a safe environment, where puppies can socialise with other puppies and people.
In a nutshell
Don’t choose the closest or cheapest puppy school. Take your time to find the right school for you and your puppy. However, remember that time goes by quickly, and ideally, your puppy should start school a week after you’ve fetched him from the breeder, and after he’s had his first three vaccinations, but before 16 weeks of age.