What You Need to Know about Puppy Class

Bring home a new puppy and you’ll be bombarded with information.

People will explain what worked for their last puppy or will share horror stories about what didn’t work. Books, TV shows, DVDs, and the internet are filled with puppy raising information. It can be tough to weed through all of this.

Many puppy owners enroll in puppy classes so they can have some guidance as to what they should or should not do. If you’ve found a great dog training school or an instructor you like and trust, this can be a wonderful resource. However, even the best instructor and school isn’t magic (all puppy-raising issues won’t simply disappear), so let’s look at the pros and cons of a puppy class.

What is a Puppy Training Class?

A puppy training class, often called a kindergarten puppy class, is designed for young puppies. Most schools require the puppy have two combination distemper and parvo vaccinations and require proof of this before enrollment. The ages for enrollment are generally between ten to sixteen weeks of age.

The exercises being taught usually include sit, down, brief stays, come, and walk on leash without pulling. Most instructors provide guidance on how these exercises can be used at home. Problem prevention and solving is usually also a part of the lesson plan, including biting and mouthing, housetraining, and other typical puppy issues. Most puppy class instructors will also discuss fears, fear periods, socialization, and other important aspects of raising a puppy.

Keep in mind, although your puppy is attending the class with you, most of the instruction during the class is for you. Since your puppy will be really excited at class, especially the first few weeks, most of your puppy’s learning will take place at home when you repeat these exercises there.

The Benefits of Puppy Class

Puppy classes are usually one hour per week for six, seven, or eight weeks. The cost is usually significantly less than one on one training.

Obviously, the most important benefit of puppy class is that you will learn how to teach your puppy, how to motivate him so he wants to work with you, and how to communicate with him. You’ll learn how to prevent problem behaviors and how to deal with them should they happen anyway.

In a group class such as this, you’ll also talk to other puppy owners and compare experiences. Many puppy owners say a group puppy training class is also group therapy for the puppy owners.

Puppies in class get to meet other puppies of a variety of breeds and breed mixes, of all sizes, shapes, coat types, and colors. Many classes also offer time for the puppies to play and that offers a huge benefit as the puppies interact with one another and discover how to play, how hard to bite each other (or not), and how to interpret the other puppies’ body language and verbalizations.

As the puppy progresses through the class, he’ll be able to practice his obedience lessons in class with more success. He’ll be able to ignore distractions that he wasn’t able to ignore earlier.

Last, but certainly not least, he’ll also meet people of all sizes, shapes, ages, and ethnic backgrounds. This is important as the puppy knows his human family but unless he meets other people, he won’t have any idea that humans are just as varied as other puppies.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/htmlmonkey/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/htmlmonkey/

The Potential Problems

Even though all of the puppies in class will need to show proof of vaccinations, there is a potential that a puppy might get sick. Just as children might get sick when school starts, some puppies might also. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of class and if you’re still uncertain, talk to the class instructor and talk to your veterinarian.

Your puppy won’t be perfect. Be careful of your expectations of your puppy in class; no one (human or canine) is perfect when class first begins. Don’t be embarrassed if your puppy is a little wild creature; especially if he’s completely ignoring you. After all, for him this is exciting! Keep in mind that your puppy will get better in class as the two of you practice your skills at home.

Your instructor is not trying to embarrass you by taking your puppy away from you for a few minutes. If your puppy is over stimulated and has lost his brain, don’t worry if the instructor takes your puppy during class to give you a hand. Many times, an instructor will work with the puppy who just can’t focus. Not only will this give you a break for a moment (so you can breathe and calm yourself) but you can also watch what she does to gain your puppy’s attention and to help him calm down.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Deciding whether a puppy class is right for you and your puppy is a decision only you can make. Weigh the pros and cons and talk to the instructor. Most dog trainers who teach puppy classes are more than happy to talk about their classes. Check out their website, too, and Facebook page.

If you are also worried about disease transmission, talk to the instructor and make sure she is diligent about checking vaccination records. Then talk to your veterinarian, too.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to www.kindredspiritsk9.com.

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