We strongly believe in starting your puppy training early because it teaches you and your dog how to work together to navigate this human world in the best way possible. This will help you build confidence, strengthen your bond and develop your relationship together. But all puppy classes are not equal, and you need to know what to look for, and ask about, if you’re going to get the best training for you and your pup!
The first thing on the list is finding a certified trainer who specializes in reward based training. Certified trainers undertake a full dog training program, and complete an apprenticeship, before they start training on their own. This gives them the skills they need to safely manage and work with dogs to modify behaviour, using the most effective training procedures. Reward based training techniques are far more effective for your dog and they also help to improve confidence because of the positive reinforcement. Aggressive techniques (like using a knee to keep your dog from jumping up on you) can actually promote reactive and fear based behaviours, which can lead to problems down the road.
Next, be sure that the initial training classes take place indoors rather than outside. A controlled environment will help to limit distractions for your puppy. Getting and keeping your pup’s attention is the foundation for a well mannered dog. It’s difficult to do that outdoors where there are so many things to interfere with your puppy’s focus.
The class curriculum is obviously a hugely important factor. You should start with a foundation of basic obedience skills, like walking on a loose leash, learning how to sit and stay and so on. The classes should also be small, so you and your pup get the attention you deserve from your dog trainer.
Fourth on the list, is off leash play time with other dogs. Socialization is important and so is having fun! (Something us humans can also put into practice. 😉) Your puppy can only focus for so long. Play will give them a much needed break and allow them time to learn how to act appropriately with other dogs. It’s also important for your trainer to offer structured socialization activities. Structured socialization offers teaching moments and interactions to promote the most appropriate behaviour to develop a well mannered dog.
Finally, the class should offer different options for shyer or more outgoing puppies, as well as alternatives for those puppies who find the classroom to be completely overwhelming. Just like people, dogs will react to various environments in different ways and it takes a skilled trainer to be able to notice and adapt to all the needs of the dogs and the people in the room.
At dogma, all of our classes have been developed by a world-elite trainer because we want you to get the best training available for you and your puppy. You can start by signing up for our free puppy training webinar – Planned Puppyhood!