We’ve all heard about puppy classes, but what exactly do they do? Before you rush to enroll your puppy, check this out.
Beware, as not all puppy training classes are created equally. Look for the following:
- Puppies should be allowed to mingle and play with each other, learning how to behave in a group
- Trainer-supervised and controlled interactions between the puppies
- Exposure to new sights, sounds, and smells as well as handling and restraint exercises
- Positive training methods
Your puppy should gain valuable confidence from the class, and you will learn positive training methods that prevent fear and anxiety in your pup.
A young puppy must learn vital positive socializing skills from mixing with other dogs, people, and animals.
If your puppy doesn’t learn to socialize and mix with others, they can become an anxious and clingy dog.
Or, they could become aggressive because they are nervous and cause an injury to another dog or a person.
Puppies Require a Lot of Work and Training
Apart from being adorable, raising a puppy to become a well-rounded adult dog is much like raising a toddler on steroids! You will have to watch them at all times as they can and will get into all sorts of dire situations.
- You will need to puppy-proof your home and put certain things out of reach of your pup, including medications, food that can be harmful to them, like chocolate, and all chemical cleaners.
- Training and socialization are vital for them to grow into confident dogs, so they need to meet lots of people and other animals.
- They need plenty of exercise, cuddles, mental stimulation, and your company!
- Get used to cleaning up after them; downplay the negative things but praise them like heck when they get it right to encourage more positive behavior.
- You will have to check for destroyed toys that could be damaging and replace your favorite shoes they chewed while biting your lip and swallowing those bad thoughts. Remember – positive rewards, not negative punishment, are required.
Remember, they will become your shadow, and they will follow you everywhere. So watch out for them and keep them safe as they trail along beside or behind you.
The Pros of Puppy Classes
There are many good things about puppy classes.
- They get needed socialization. One of the major advantages for your puppy is learning to socialize with other puppies and meet other people. They learn the type of behavior that is expected of them, which gives them loads of confidence.
- You learn about puppy care. Not only does your puppy learn a lot, but you will also learn about the importance of puppy health care, worming, feeding, and how to train your puppy in the best way possible.
- Puppy classes help train basic commands. Your puppy will be taught basic commands such as sitting, stopping, and coming to you on command. Puppies are creatures of impulse and can run off after something that intrigues them. Teaching them to ‘stop and stay’ could save their life in a busy shopping center.
- Some classes are run by veterinarians. Many veterinary practices offer puppy classes that provide you with the perfect opportunity to connect with them. They will be able to answer any questions about your puppy that may be concerning you.
- You and your pup can make friends. You will get to meet other dog lovers who can become good friends. Your puppy will keep in touch with their doggie friends, and you can share playdates or go walking together. You could also support each other in regards to puppy sitting.
- Puppy classes are cost-effective. The costs are spread across several people, making the classes more affordable than hiring a private dog trainer to come to your home.
The Cons of Puppy Classes
- Training takes time. A puppy class is not a four-week wonder course that leads to a fully trained puppy. You still have to continue training your puppy regularly, especially as they are still growing and learning. Repetition is important for puppies as they forget easily.
- You must continue training after the class. Many trainers use clickers or food to train and reward the puppies in training. Which is all well and good, but just be aware that they are just an aid, and your puppy needs to learn to behave to please you, not just for the reward.
- A puppy class is a mix of puppies. They each have a specific personality. Just like kids at a party, one is sensitive and shy, another may be the boisterous bully, and the other a puppy who always wants any toys left lying around.
You can’t pick the puppies who share your class.
- Some trainers don’t control the class well. Your trainer should avoid scaring a smaller pup and control the class so that everyone benefits from it. If the person in charge is not in control, perhaps it’s time to look for a better class.
- Unvaccinated puppies can pass on a disease to other pups. Check that the class you take your puppy to will only take vaccinated puppies. Ideally, the pups attending will have had all their vaccinations.
An Experienced, Positive Trainer Is a Must
As young puppies grow, they learn about the world and the environment around them. Every experience a puppy has can affect how they view the world and shape their behavior.
Additional benefits to look for within a puppy class include an empathetic and kind trainer. When dealing with all the puppies, they should take their personality into account.
A shy puppy will take longer to get their confidence in a group setting, so they should be encouraged to participate at their own pace. Even if they hide under your seat and peek out and watch, just let them do so until they feel confident with the other pups.
Some pups may get aggressive towards others, and the trainer should nip this behavior in the bud immediately in a kind but firm manner.
Many classes are run by vet clinics, which allow you to get to know a health care professional in your area who can offer concrete advice regarding health and food choices for your puppy, vaccinations, and so on.
Smaller classes are better, as they allow the trainer time to work with all the puppies. The puppies can get to know one another, and they will get individual attention that can help your puppy adjust to their world.
A well-formed and run puppy class is vital so that your puppy learns what sort of behavior you expect of them.
Professionals Can Ensure You’re Training Right
The obvious benefit of training your puppy yourself is saving yourself some money. But there are many benefits of attending a professional dog class.
Getting out and about will help your puppy hone their socialization skills around other dogs and their owners. Meeting a variety of pups and people and being handled by a professional trainer will give them confidence and improve their behavior.
Sometimes when you train your puppy yourself, you risk unintentionally teaching them some bad habits! You may try to teach them too much too soon, which can lead to your young pup being confused and feeling anxious.
The good thing about attending a class is that you get to learn and build upon your handling skills. Your trainer will not only train your puppy but will show you the best way to get the most from your pup.
One class doesn’t make the puppy a perfect pooch. As they grow, you can advance their training by seeing what they love and working on that.
Some puppies have a natural inclination towards agility, while others love learning tricks. A professional dog trainer can suggest the right direction for your puppy.
Most classes are held once a week. You and your puppy will get homework to do for the rest of the week. This holds you accountable to train your pup and work to bring out the best in them and yourself!
If You’d Rather Train Alone, Research First
There are plenty of people who successfully train their puppy, but it does take commitment and patience.
Before you leap in and start to train your dog, I advise you do a bit of homework.
There is so much information on the internet, both free and for a modest fee. The most important thing is that training your puppy should be fun for your pup.
If they slip up and do something wrong, be patient and calmly reteach the task. Never, ever yell or punish your puppy because if fear seeps in, they will not learn properly.
The secret for successful puppy training is to keep the training short, especially at the beginning. Be kind and teach with love, not with aggression.
Puppies want to please and they crave your attention. A kind, positive owner who overlooks mistakes, patiently teaches, and rewards with cuddles, kind words, and maybe an occasional treat will have a devoted pooch who can’t wait to please you.
Classes Build Trust and Social Skills
Proper training and socialization are amount to the most vital of your puppy’s basic needs. It can seem overwhelming for a young puppy, so start slowly and build upon the early lessons.
Short training sessions or puppy classes are the best way to start so as not to overwhelm them.
If you are teaching them, start slowly. Even if you start for just a few minutes in the morning and another few minutes at night, it will ease your puppy into training.
Your puppy has the attention span of a gnat, so expect them to be sidetracked by anything and everything. It is just how they are.
One to four puppy classes won’t make your pup a genius. It takes time – a lot of time—to have a beautifully behaved dog.
But as they start to understand what you or the class trainer wants, they will focus and learn quicker.
The key phrase with a puppy is to be patient, start slowly, and build from there. That applies to puppy classes as well.
Repetition is required as puppies forget quickly. So repeat the lessons until they become ingrained in your puppy’s brain.
While it takes a lot of effort to train a dog, a well-behaved dog is priceless.
You can take them anywhere with you, knowing that they will listen to your commands and not take off the moment you let them off the chain.
Your puppy will grow into a well-rounded dog who is reliable and trusted, and they, in return, will be your most treasured companion.
Writer: Jean Brewer