Dog

Training – when, where and how

Published by: Karen Backhouse

I receive calls asking about training classes from owners with dogs of all ages.  Some even call before they bring their new puppy home.  So, when is the right time, what do they need to learn and how do you find a good class?

It is never too soon to start teaching your puppy life skills.  Many training courses start puppies as early as 8 weeks of age and this has been shown through research at the University of Lincoln in the UK, to be very beneficial.  Balancing the risks between socialisation and vaccination are important and this leaflet from Meriel explains in more detail.

Most owners focus very much on teaching their new puppies to ‘sit’ and give a paw, whilst this provides a good bonding experience and some mental stimulation, there are more important things to teach your new puppy.  These include being home alone, getting used to being handled and groomed, and many other things that will help them to live in our world without become worried or fearful.  Learning to manage frustration is another key life skill – you can’t always have what you want when you want it.

Some recommended books are:

Puppy Start Right – Kenneth & Debbie Martin

Life skills for Puppies – Helen Zulch

Home Alone & Happy – Kate Mallertratt

Finding a good class can be tricky for a novice owner.  Knowing what constitutes a good one can be difficult to determine.  Here are some useful tips

  • Places to look for classes where you are assured of kind, effective, science-based training are: Karen Pryor Academy (KPA)Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)Victoria Stillwell Academy (VSA)Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT)

  • Contact them as soon as your new puppy arrival date is confirmed.  Courses fill quickly.

  • Don’t choose a class because it is either the cheapest or closest to your home.  You have you puppy for life and getting them off to a good start is crucial.

  • Visit a class and watch one in action.  Not every trainer’s style suits every person – you need to find a class that you are comfortable with.

  • Ensure that the class does not have too many puppies in. 4 is a good number if there is one trainer and up to 8 with 2 trainers.

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