Why puppy school is crucial

Have you ever wondered what is the rave about puppy schools and why puppies should attend these classes? Behaviourist Samantha Walpole explains why it is important for your puppy.

The general socialisation stage for a puppy is between three and 16 weeks. This is a critical one-time window of opportunity. We never get this period back! Attending a well-run puppy socialisation school is not negotiable. Exposure and experiences during this period will shape the dog’s behaviour forever. The puppy learns about his social world, allowing him to become a functioning member of our society. Home socialisation is not enough – the puppy classes expose the pups to all types of novel stimuli and experiences we take for granted.

Opportunities to play off lead with other pups of different sizes, breeds and dispositions teach a puppy to ‘speak dog’ so he can function in a canine society. It is not enough if the puppy lives with resident dogs. Puppies need to learn from playing with other puppies and interacting with carefully chosen, well-socialised adult dogs. Puppy play teaches bite inhibition (learning to control bite intensity). Not only are these classes crucial for the puppy, it also builds a relationship and bond between the handler and their pup.

A typical syllabus in a well-run school would be:

  • Loose-leash walking.
  • Activities teaching body awareness and sensory stimulation, and negotiating different obstacles, which build confidence.
  • Basic manners: sit, lie down, recall, back up, mock vet check handling and leave/take it.
  • Practical and theoretical information on typical puppy behaviours such as nipping; toilet training; digging; chewing; jumping; boisterous behaviour; basic medical and health care information.
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