How to Pick the Right Puppy Class for Your Pet
Nobody's perfect, not even your puppy! That's why puppy class might be a good idea!
As a pet parent, you must remember that your new puppy is basically the equivalent to a small child. Everything is new and exciting for them, and their energy is always enviably high. They're brand new to this big world, and certain nuanced behaviours may not come naturally to them. While some puppies just seem to get it and behave perfectly from day 1, others may have a harder time - the little scamps. But that's okay! It's to be expected, they just haven't learned yet. That's why puppy class is a great idea for your new fur baby. There are likely tons of puppy class options in your area, which can make choosing just one difficult! Here are some tips on how to pick the right puppy class for you and your pet.
Make Sure They Take Vaccinations Seriously
One of the first steps to becoming a pet parent is taking care of your new puppy, and that means taking them to the vet to get their vaccinations. This ensures your puppy will be protected against issues such as hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and rabies. When choosing a puppy class, you want them to take vaccinations as seriously as you do! This way you'll know that your puppy is only going to be exposed to other safe dogs that have also been protected against these possible illnesses.
A good first step when choosing a puppy class would be to ask those in your 'pet parent circle' for their help. Ask your vet, dog groomer, or other pet parent friends from the dog park or otherwise if they've heard or experienced any great puppy training classes. This way you'll know you're getting first-hand testimonials from a trusted source that you personally know and trust.
Find a Class that Starts at the Right Time
Dog training is all about timing. While many people wait to train their dogs at the 6-month mark, this may not be the ideal time. By the time your dog is 6 months old, they may have already developed certain unsavoury behaviours that will be harder to unlearn. True puppy training is best between the 8 and 12 week mark. Puppies that are this age make the best students, as they have hopefully not formed any bad habits yet!
Ask About Certification, Credentials, and Experience
While it doesn't necessarily take formal training to make a good puppy trainer, some people prefer a trainer with certifications or credentials behind them. Ask about the trainer's background, experience, and if they hold any type of certifications from any governing bodies such as the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, the International Association of Canine Professionals, or the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants. It also may be helpful to do a little digging and find out how long the establishment has been around for. This not only speaks to their experience with puppy training, but also may offer more online reviews or testimonials to look through and help guide you through the decision making process.
Ask About the Methods Used
There are lots of different philosophies surrounding puppy training. Some trainers use positive motivators, while others believe in negative motivators. Positive motivators that can be used include food motivators, play motivators, and affection motivators. These are all considered humane options. Negative motivators that punish a dog for bad behaviours have been shown by numerous studies to be less effective. Be sure the class you choose focuses on humane methods and don't rely on negative techniques, such as yelling or hitting - these behaviours are completely unnecessary and ineffective.
Sit in On a Session
Ask the trainer if you (and maybe even your puppy) can sit in and observe a session. If the trainer says no, this is definitely a warning sign. They should be open to letting you see how a typical class goes before deciding. Observe how the puppies are in the class. If they look happy and relaxed, the trainer is doing a good job of making the canine pupils feel comfortable. Also watch for how the trainer responds to the puppies behaviours. You want them to ignore the unwanted behaviours, and praise the right ones. It's also important to pay attentention to the trainers demeanor. Ideally they should remain calm, though assertive through the entire class.
Now that you're armed with all these considerations you should be ready to pick the right puppy class for you and your pup, and get the training process started! We're sure they'll be getting gold stars and straight A's in no time!