For many animal-loving people, a dream comes true when they adopt a dog. Puppies in particular are often given away, as many people wish to see their beloved four-legged friend grow up from an early age. In order to make this start in such a way that you as a (first-time) dogmom and dad do as little wrong as possible, it makes sense to visit a good dog school with a lovingly guided puppy course.
How do I recognise a well-trained puppy class?
It is sometimes quite difficult to judge this in advance and only decide via the website. They like to advertise non-violent methods, but on closer inspection they tug at the leash or wait for the dog to make a mistake so they can “correct” it. Of course, it is better to show the dog what you want from your puppy in a non-violent and supportive way.
But what can I do now? How can I get an impression of the respective dog school?
- You could visit the dog school in advance and just watch a class. Do they talk loudly to the dogs or tug at the leashes without the trainer intervening? Yes? Then you should definitely look for another dog school.
- Do they train with chest harnesses or wide collars or do you see many dogs with thin collars or even chain collars?
- Of course, you also need to be able to talk to the leader of the puppy class. If you hear sentences like: “We don’t use treats here” or “We have to clarify who is the boss in the dog-human team right from the start”, you should get out of the way very quickly.
- Is a free trial lesson offered? In a trial lesson you can find out how you feel, how your dog feels at the training site and how the group is put together.
- The size of the group is very important. There should be no more than 5 puppies per trainer together at one time. No matter how big the course is, no matter how good the trainer, at some point the group leader will lose the overview if there are too many dogs and people on the course. Especially in puppy classes it is very important to keep a close eye on the individual dog-human pairs.
- What about the age of the dog? Puppies usually attend a puppy class between the 8th and 16th week.
- What is the composition of each puppy class? It is advisable that your little darling gets to know the different breeds and types of dogs from the very beginning. However, the little dog must not be overtaxed. The play sequences in particular must be monitored very closely (see below).
- There should be many small breaks in the course programme, and variety should be provided from time to time. If an exercise has just been done that required a lot of concentration, a short play session should break it up and the puppy should be able to let off steam. If an exercise with a lot of movement has just been carried out, a quiet search game is a good way to compensate.
- Time for questions should be planned by the trainer. Of course, you cannot ask the same detailed questions as in individual training. There is simply not enough time for that and it would be unfair to everyone else in the course. However, there should be time for short questions and they should be answered in an understandable way. If there is not enough time, one-to-one training can be offered.
How should the group be composed in the puppy class?
Should small dogs play with big ones? Many dog owners do indeed ask themselves this question. If dog breeds of different sizes are mixed, the puppy class leader must keep a very close eye on whether it is still play or pure overload. Otherwise the puppy class can quickly end traumatically, especially for small dogs, if they are overrun by the big ones.
If, for example, the Bernese Mountain Dog seizes the small Yorkshire Terrier or the Labrador does not take the Chihuahua’s dismissive behaviour seriously, they must be separated immediately. Especially dog breeds that are prone to exuberant joy or physical play should be watched very closely.
Dog owners should also be trained how to recognise when their dog just won’t leave another dog alone or when it seeks protection. Sentences like: “He has to learn that” or “He has to go through that” have no place in dog training. The dog does not have to go through this because we put him in this situation and then have the obligation to offer the dog protection when he seeks it from us.
Effects on the dog’s later life.
What many (first-time) dog owners do not realise is that the puppy period shapes the dog’s entire future life. So if he learns already in puppyhood that he does not need to turn to his human because the human sends him back into a situation that is unpleasant for him, he will not do this later on either. Among other things, this is how behaviours such as aggression towards conspecifics develop, whether with or without a leash.
Where can I find a good puppy school?
It’s rare to find a suitable dog school right on your doorstep, so it’s sometimes advisable to take a little extra time to get there. Listen to recommendations from people you know or check out the dog trainer courses on TOBALIE. They are all certified and meet the guidelines.
Finding a good dog school and a good puppy course is enormously important for the development of your little darling. Poorly run courses with questionable methods can do a lot of damage. Fortunately, as a dog owner, there are a few things you can look for when choosing the right dog school.