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Questions About Puppy Training Classes

What age should my puppy be to start classes?


The short answer is young young young! As young as possible. Very outdated advice would have believe you should wait until your puppy is ‘a bit older’. This comes from a time when dog training was harsh and punitive, therefore it was considered too cruel for puppies.


20+ years ago veterinary advice was to ensure your puppy had both vaccinations and had waited one or two weeks after that before coming to training classes, research has shown that puppy immunity remains high from its mother and through the vaccination process, whilst other studies demonstrate the overwhelming benefits of early socialisation as well as training (see below for more). Consequently puppies may now start classes after their first vaccination, this policy was made in consultation with local veterinary surgeons and is vet-endorsed.


(Remember that the classes are indoors, so no different from taking your puppy to the vet surgery, or a friend's house).


My puppy isn’t toilet trained - can I still come to class?


All the pups in class are very young and still learning about where to go to the toilet. In a busy and exciting class they often get caught short, or maybe you don’t notice their signals because you are concentrating. So I absolutely expect a few puddles or piles! The floor is tiled, I have a mop and bucket on hand, and its a normal and expected part of having a room full of puppies so nothing to worry or be embarrassed about at all.


My puppy has never been on a lead/out of my home/met other puppies


It is my intention and hope that your puppy comes to classes nice and early in their life, so it is very common that the class is their first time on a lead, out of the house, meeting other dogs, etc. This is great! I can help you ensure it is a comfortable learning experience for them, and it will give you and them a massive head start in their training and socialising.


Is my puppy too old for training?


You can definitely teach an old dog new tricks! So no puppy is ever to old to be trained, however my group puppy classes are for puppies up to maximum 6 months (on date of first class) so to help you with an older puppy we would work on a one to one basis. This usually works best as you will likely have some specific issues to work on and we can focus on those this way).


Why is early socialisation so important?


You puppy may look very different from a wild dog, but his DNA is almost identical. This equips him with instinctive survival mechanisms. Being wary of the unfamiliar is a clever way to stay alive in the wild, it doesn’t help much when you are a living with a human family though.


During the period of early development that a wild puppy would be with its mother, she will learn what her environment looks like, what she sees, hears and smells every day goes on an important list in her brain of ‘things that I don’t need to be afraid of’. Once weaned and independent she will uses it as a checklist, anything new is regarded as a potential threat.


Raising a puppy in a human world means broadening a puppy’s definition of what is safe by introducing them to as many places, people, sights, sounds, dogs, as possible so they all make it on to the ‘safe list’. If we do a good job your puppy will also become much more accepting of novelty.


It is much easier on your puppy, and you, to do this when they are very young, hence my recommendation to begin classes early. It is incredibly important to do this socialising carefully so your pup doesn’t get overwhelmed or scared, we cover how to get this right in class.


What if I am using homeopathic vaccinations?


I am an enthusiastic advocate of natural and holistic puppy care, and am happy to accept homoeopathically vaccinated puppies, please do message me if you would like to discuss.


My puppy is great at home but in class he just wants to play with the other puppies


Training at home in a quiet, distraction-free environment is a perfect way to help your puppy learn brand new exercises. But once they have the basics what really counts is teaching them to respond to you with distractions around them, so they will do ask you ask in real life situations which are often busy, noisy or filled with dogs and people.


When you are asking something quite tricky of your puppy (eg. Listening to you in a busy class environment) its important to adjust your expectations, ask less of them, so they will more easily succeed, but don’t give up. Training in the class environment is definitely challenging but a great opportunity to train for real situations.

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