The Importance Of Puppy Class
The holidays are here, and some of you might be lucky enough to receive that fluffy new puppy wrapped in a big red bow later this month. It is exciting stuff, and if you are on top of it, the road ahead will be full of good times and memories to cherish. I am not saying there won’t be moments where your patience is tested a bit (or a lot), but if you are proactive with training, socialization, and setting boundaries the difference in the relationship you will have with your dog will be substantial. As a follow up to one of our previous blog posts When And How To Start Training Your Puppy, we are going to focus more in-depth on the importance of puppy class for you and your new best friend.
So, what exactly is “puppy class”?
Puppy class is usually an hour-long session where you and your puppy get to be around other dogs and humans, socialize, and get started on the foundation of training. At Summit, our puppy classes are 4-week courses and start slow, with 20-30 minutes of “puppy social” followed with topics like terminology, intro to food training, handling, and more. By the end of the 4-week course, you can expect your puppy to have a solid head start on proper social behavior, basic commands like sit, stay, etc., and most importantly, by exposing your dog in a safe environment to new people, dogs, and sensations you are setting the foundation for a confident and well-acclimated adult dog down the road. Which brings me to my main point:
Socialize, Socialize, Socialize.
The bottom line is, if you want to set your puppy up for success down the road, you have to get them socializing and safely expose them to as many new elements as possible. It has been shown in studies time and time again that dogs who aren’t exposed early on to new things early on are much more likely to develop a fearful and sometimes aggressive personality. Additionally, puppy class is a great place for you to talk with other new dog owners and ask an experienced trainer important questions about any issues or concerns you may have. Yes, watching videos online and googling answers can be helpful, but nothing can replace getting out and having real conversations with experienced trainers WHILE your puppy is right there! No case is the same, and no dog is exactly the same either. Letting your new puppy interact with other people and dogs in a safe, monitored atmosphere is the best thing you can do at that stage.
things to look for in a puppy class:
A clean, controlled space
Puppy classes can sometimes get a little too rambunctious, so looking for a place that offers a more calm, limited capacity setting is important.
Emphasis on exposure and desensitization
The class should have new obstacles and items that might be a little scary for some dogs such as vacuums, people wearing hats and sunglasses, etc.. Your puppy should have a positive association with the class, and is the perfect opportunity to slowly introduce potentially scary new things and make them not so scary.
An experienced trainer
This goes without saying, but it is in your and your dogs best interest to reach out to the trainer hosting the potential class and ask them about structure, goals, etc.. The better the trainer, and the better you get along with the trainer, the more you will get out of the class!
At such a young age, positive reinforcement is the name of the game. The class should be centered around creating positive bonds and rewards for good actions. The class should be centered around FUN and learning, not correction.
Lastly, puppy class is for the owner almost as much as it is the dog. You will be amazed at how much you can learn in a well-structured class with an experienced trainer. It will provide you with the baseline knowledge and tools to handle otherwise disruptive situations at home and will make a world of difference for you and your puppy.