Puppies have a long road of learning ahead of them. They need to be potty-trained, receive basic manners, learn at least the basics of obedience, and be socialised. Many of these behaviours can be sped along with the assistance of a qualified trainer. A North London puppy trainer can assist in preparing a puppy for a long life of being a good dog. But when should the lessons start?
Veterinarians and trainers alike used to insist that puppies begin their training only when they were old enough to have received all of their vaccines and boosters. Unfortunately, this meant that many puppies did not attend a class until they already had ingrained behavioural issues. These puppies were travelling down a path toward problems beginning in the critical period that determines the difference between socialisation or fear. As a result, animal behaviourists, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and many trainers now advise that puppies without health problems start classes at seven to eight weeks old.
Preparatory to Puppy Class
When puppies attend classes at this early age, they do need a veterinarian visit first. Puppies should have received at least one vaccine set a minimum of seven days before the first class. A first deworming should also precede the class. Throughout the lessons, the puppies should be maintained up to date on every vaccine.
Why So Early?
Socialisation during the first 2-3 months of a puppy’s life is vital. Lack of exposure to people and dogs in this period can result in such behavioural issues as phobias, fears, avoidance, and aggression extending well into the young dog’s life. Some trainers and breeders may disagree, but the current trend in the world of medicine and behaviour is that health risks are outweighed by the benefits of class attendance early.
What Happens in Puppy Classes?
In classes for the younger puppies, instructors tailor the regimen to the puppy’s age. In the beginning, most classes will be geared toward socialisation and play. When the puppies graduate in a month and a half or so, they are ready, develop mentally, to add new skills to their repertoires to become smarter and more intelligent dogs.
What Puppies Learn
First and foremost is socialisation. When in a puppy class, there is exposure to new people, puppies, sights, smells, and sounds. Great classes also introduce strange obstacles and items like brooms, vacuum cleaners, and new objects. Some classes encourage a swap between pet parents to encourage puppies to grow accustomed to other people.
Good play sessions during classes include a number of factors. Puppies will learn the control of their bites’ pressure, how to read the body language of other dogs, how to gain confidence, and when to give other puppies necessary breaks. Trainers should also instruct in how to socialise puppies outside of class in the remainder of the week. Carry the puppy new places until the last set of shots has been received to keep safe from distemper and parvo.
Bite inhibition is an important lesson where the puppy learns to control mouth pressure. If a dog ever bites, this lesson is vital because it will determine whether the dog has learned to control a bite’s severity. Teaching the puppy not to bite at all is only one aspect of inhibition. This is done by redirecting and getting the puppy to chew on a desirable object, such as a toy, rather than on a person’s flesh.
Puppies also learn handling. This is important for dog grooming and vet visits, as well as daily interactions with people during dog walking. All it takes is a second’s glance away to find a child trying to hug your puppy or an adult seeking to give strokes without gaining your permission. A dog that has been trained in handling will not have an issue in these circumstances.
Basic obedience is also taught in puppy class. Great puppy classes help your companion learn to recognise the puppy’s name, such commands as sit, down, leave it, stand, heel, and come, and the basic concepts of motivating a puppy to learn. Watch me is another important command, as are dropping things and waiting. A release word is also useful for ending things like stays and heels.
When Poor Training Means Re-homing
Many first-time puppy owners make a key mistake about training and then have a young dog they do not know how to handle. The top three things for puppies to learn while young are socialisation, bite inhibition, and house-training. Without these three lesson types, many dogs are taken to shelters or even euthanised by the time they turn three years old.
Why Age Matters
These three behaviours need to be learned young. Puppies have key developmental periods that generally end at around 12 weeks old. The first 12 weeks are a crucial time for socialisation. During that time, puppies are readily receptive to new learning. Bite inhibition needs to occur before puppies are six months old. This is when the puppy’s jaws develop; real damage can start to be done with their bites. Good puppy training classes help with socialisation and bite inhibition, in addition to obedience commands.
Keeping Young Puppies Safe
When starting puppies in classes so young, there are a few things to look for when seeking a trainer. Check for trainers who have vaccine requirements. Because the timing is uncertain as to when the protection of mother’s milk antibodies wears off, proper shots among all class participants are vital.
Check for clean floors in the training facility and carry your puppy to it. The floors should be well-maintained with a cleaner that kills off parvo and distemper; it should be applied right before the beginning of the puppy class. Once the area has been cleaned, the trainer should see to the prevention of non-participant dogs from entering the training area.
All puppies need to start their learning young to be properly socialised. This cannot be emphasised too highly. A well-qualified trainer can help you and your puppy with all sorts of behavioural issues before they become true problems.