No Puppy Class? No Problem
When you bring a puppy into your life, home and family it is so important to make sure that they are not only well-trained but well socialised. For these reasons, it is widely agreed that going to a course of puppy classes is best all round. You pup gets to learn basic obedience, you learn how to continue to train them going forward, and your bundle of fluff might make a couple of doggy friends.
So, what happens if you can’t find a puppy class in your area, or one that is at suitable time for you, or maybe your puppy simply doesn’t take well to a puppy class environment, or you don’t agree with the trainer’s ways? Trust me when I say, it’s not the end of the world.
I took Bruce to puppy school and while I don’t regret going, I can’t say that I found it to be especially helpful. It was great to meet like-minded people and their pets, but the course content was very ‘one size fits all’ with no bend in the program for dogs who didn’t respond to the training methods. As the owner of a confident and extremely playful, often over friendly puppy, I spent most of the class trying to grapple Bruce away from other pups and their owners, and keeping his attention on me during the moments of training was near impossible.
At the time I felt embarrassed and insecure. As everyone pottered around with their perfectly obedient puppies, I knew that I had put a huge amount of work into training Bruce on a daily basis, but it looked like I had done none of the homework at every weekly class. Now I know that this is just part of the Airedale Terrier temperament – quick to learn, slow to obey – but at the time I felt like a failure. The lack of encouragement or suggestions for another training route left me feeling worried that Bruce was untrainable, and feeling embarrassed that he seemed out of control in classes.
It was only a couple of weeks into the course that I decided to pursue other training methods. I had already done some research prior to bringing Bruce home, but I stepped it up. I read every blog, book and magazine I could find about training puppies, and watched hundreds of YouTube videos. I spent time reading through forums for tips from owners with similar issues.
While I still attended puppy class, it became a fun outing that helped Bruce and I bond. It was a weekly activity we could enjoy together – I had a laugh and Bruce had a lot of stimulation. Past that, it wasn’t much of a help. Instead, it was down to my own research, hard work and tailoring training to my puppy’s needs and temperament which ended up being the perfect training course for him.
What about socialisation I hear you ask? Well, socialisation is just as important as training, if not more. If you want a friendly, sociable dog that gets on with people and other dogs then you need to socialise it. Puppy class is often touted as being the perfect opportunity for socialisation, and it is certainly good for getting your dog used to being around adults and potentially children if they are present in the class. However, for dog socialisation a puppy class may not work well. Puppies are best socialised with calm, older dogs who teach them how to behave – they’ll put them in their place if they are too boisterous or rough, and will give them some playtime back when they are well-behaved. Other puppies? They bite, they jump, they bark… they basically haven’t learn any manners yet. It’s no way for your puppy how to learn to approach and interact with other dogs. Instead, arrange for your puppy to meet plenty of calm and relaxed adult dogs, expose them to lots of different people, places and situations, and you will achieve a more thorough socialisation that any puppy class can offer.
If you can’t or won’t take your puppy to training classes, then here is what you need to remember:
- Do a lot of research on training puppies.
- Stick to positive reinforcement methods and reward based training.
- Don’t resort to cruel ‘training aids’ like choke chains or air pressure cans.
- Tailor your training methods so that they suit your dog.
- Work hard and consistently to train your puppy.
- Train your puppy in short bursts so they don’t get bored, and do it several times a day.
- Socialise, socialise, socialise, then do it some more, with dogs, adults and children, in a variety of public and private places.
Do you think puppy class is a must?