The first 16 weeks of a dog’s life is a critical development phase, and she will remember everything that happens to her during this time for the rest of her life. It’s the most important time for socialisation, and also when behaviours -- good and bad -- become ingrained.
In this period, puppies should be positively exposed to as many new people, animals and experiences as possible to avoid your dog being nervous later in life. However, they are not fully vaccinated until about 18 weeks, and it’s recommended that you don’t take your puppy to the local park before then, due to the risk of disease exposure.
Puppy school is a secure environment where your new pet can mingle with other puppies and people and be introduced to obedience training -- and where you as an owner can become equipped with the knowledge and skills to raise a healthy, happy, well-mannered dog that you can take anywhere.
Going to puppy school will strengthen the bond between you and your little pooch. You will be spending time with her, interacting and playing. You will also learn how to read your dog’s body language and the right way communicate with her, as well as effective techniques to encourage good behaviour and prevent problem behaviour.
People think they will just manage on their own, but communicating with your dog it not an intuitive thing. A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is happy, while growling isn’t always a sign of aggression. And shouting at your dog won’t stop her from barking. Puppy school is as much about teaching the owner as the puppy.
When fresh from the litter, puppies haven’t yet developed serious problem behaviours, and puppy school will equip you to deal with them when they crop up. You will learn how to discourage behaviour you don’t want, such as biting or barking, by blocking the action, rather than punishing the dog. Many “punishments” like yelling at or pushing the dog are actually rewards in the form of attention, and people find the behaviour becomes a recurring one. When you block behaviours, they disappear, and you will avoid raising a pooch that thinks her name is “no”.
Keep in mind that while it might be cute when your 10-week-old puppy barks at every bird that flies past, it’s not going to stay cute for the next 15 years. It’s much easier to prevent problem behaviours from being learned than trying to cure them in an adult dog.
Your puppy will learn general obedience skills and commands such as sit, stay, drop and to come when called. All puppy training should be positive, or you will just bring up a fearful or aggressive dog. Puppy school will show you how to train your dog to do what you want with praise, play and treats.
People think of puppies as easy, but they are actually hard work, especially if you have a particularly boisterous or distressed puppy. At puppy school, trainers give you confirmation that you are doing the right thing, and offer constructive feedback when you’re not. You will also meet other puppy owners going through similar issues, which will help you to not feel alone and frustrated.
A happy dog is a secure dog, one who is confident meeting other dogs and people -- as well as being by herself.
Puppy school will teach you how to introduce your puppy to other dogs safely, so that encountering other dogs is a positive experience. You will have a well socialised dog that doesn’t bark at or fight with other canines and is a pleasure to take out.
You will also learn how to avoid your puppy suffering from separation anxiety -- and becoming destructive -- by doing confidence building exercises and developing a plan for leaving your puppy at home alone so that you raise an independent, calm and content dog.
Read more: The Benefits of Puppy School
By Aggy Ager for Exceptional Canine