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Everything You Need to Know About Puppy Training Classes

Every puppy must learn socialization and confidence building with other dogs. At the very latest, before your puppy is 18 weeks old, they should start puppy training classes. A critical juncture in your dog’s development occurs at 4 1/2 months. It’s the point at which they change from puppy to adolescent, sometimes virtually overnight. You want to be enrolled in a class before your pup collides with adolescence. Working with a professional pet dog trainer during your dog’s difficult transition from puppyhood to adolescence is a must.

Why puppy classes matter

Puppy classes allow your pup to develop canine social savvy. They do this by playing with other puppies in a non-threatening and controlled setting. Shy and fearful pups quickly gain confidence while bullies learn to tone it down and be gentle.

Puppy play sessions are equally important. Play is essential for pups to build confidence and learn canine social etiquette. That way, as socialized adult dogs, they will choose play over fighting or taking flight around other dogs. If not sufficiently socialized as puppies, dogs generally lack the confidence to have fun and play as adults.

Moreover, once they are fearful or aggressive as adults, dogs can be difficult to rehabilitate. Luckily, these potentially serious problems are easily prevented in puppyhood, simply by letting puppies play with each other. It’s not fair to condemn your dog to a lifetime of social worry and anxiety by denying them the opportunity to play during puppyhood.

This is not to say that a socialized dog will never spook. A socialized dog may be momentarily startled, but they get over it quickly. Unsocialized dogs do not. Also, socialized dogs are better equipped to deal with occasional encounters with unsocialized or unfriendly dogs.

What to expect at puppy classes

Most puppy classes are family-oriented, so your pup will have opportunities to socialize with all sorts of people. And then there is the training game. It will blow your mind how much your pup learns in just one lesson. Dogs learn to come, sit, and lie down when requested. They also learn to stand still, roll over for examination, listen to their owners, and ignore distractions. Additionally, puppy classes are an absolute blast! You will never forget your pup’s first class. Puppy classes are an adventure for both you and your dog.

Remember, you are attending puppy class for you to learn! And there’s still an awful lot to learn. You’ll pick up numerous useful tips for resolving behavior problems. You’ll learn how to control the rambunctiousness that is inevitably part and parcel of doggy adolescence. But, most important of all, you’ll learn how to control your puppy’s biting behavior.

How puppy classes help biting behavior

The top reason for attending puppy class is to provide your puppy with the very best opportunity to fine-tune their bite inhibition. Whether your puppy is still biting you too much and harder than you would like, or whether they are biting less than necessary to develop reliable bite inhibition, puppy play sessions are the solution. Other puppies are the very best teachers. They say, “Bite me too hard and I’m not going to play with you anymore!” Since puppies want to spend all their time play-fighting and play-biting, they end up teaching other puppies bite inhibition.

A young puppy’s skin is extremely sensitive, so pups are likely to provide immediate and convincing feedback when bitten too hard. In fact, a pup is likely to receive better feedback regarding the force of his bites during a single one-hour puppy class than they would all week from his owners at home. Moreover, much of the pup’s bite inhibition with other dogs will generalize to good bite inhibition with people, making the pup easier to train and control at home.

Health considerations for puppy classes

Common and serious infectious diseases such as parvovirus and distemper are a big concern with young puppies, which require a series of immunizations to produce solid immunity. By 3 months of age, puppies only have 70-75 percent immunity, so there is justifiable concern that they are still at risk if exposed to infection. But puppy classrooms are pretty safe places, since only vaccinated puppies are present and the floors are regularly cleaned and sterilized. Besides, your puppy’s physical health is only part of the picture. Psychological and behavioral health are equally important.

A puppy’s risk of infection depends on their level of immunity and the infectiousness of the environment. A puppy’s immunity increases with successive immunizations until it approaches 99 percent immunity at 5 months of age. Different environments range from relatively safe to extremely hazardous. But no animal is 100 percent immune to disease, and no environment is 100 percent safe.

If physical health were the only concern, many vets would advise that puppies not venture out into potentially infected areas until they are at least 5 to 6 months old. However, a puppy’s behavior, temperament, bite inhibition, and mental well-being are equally as important as physical health. Just as a developing puppy needs immunizations against infectious diseases, they also require social and educational “immunizations” to prevent them from developing behavior and temperament problems. For all-around health, a young puppy must receive immunization against disease, but they must also get out and about on walks, to dog parks, and to puppy classes as soon as possible.

Puppies need training they can’t get at home

Your puppy may be sociable with your other dog, but you’re in for a shock when your puppy goes out alone, whether for a walk on the street, to a dog park, or to training class. You will quickly find that your dog is not socialized at all. Instead, they will likely run and hide and defensively growl, lunge, and snap.

Your puppy may appear to be extremely well-socialized and friendly at home, but they are only socialized and friendly to one dog. Also, they may become overdependent on one dog, and when they go out alone for the first time, they will fall apart, missing the security and company of their canine best friend and bodyguard.

What to look for in a puppy class

There are so many good puppy schools. Search until you find one. Check out a few classes before you commit. Here are a few tips for finding the right class:

Avoid puppy classes that advocate the use of any metal collar or any means of physical punishment that frightens, harms, or causes pain to your pup. Push-pull, leash-jerk, grab-and-shake, alpha rollover, and domination techniques are now considered ineffective, besides being adversarial and unpleasant. These methods are out of date.

Look for puppy training classes where the pups are given ample opportunity to play together off-leash. Also, the class should teach pups to settle during the play session, using toys and treats and fun and games. The play session should include many short training interludes, so parents can practice controlling their pups when they are worked up and distracted. Look for classes where puppies learn quickly and parents are happy with their puppies’ progress. And above all, look for classes where the trainer, puppies, and owners are all having a good time!

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