Whether you're a new pup-parent or an experienced doggie household, it's always a good idea to take your new puppy to school. At puppy school your youngster will learn about other dogs, other people, a new environment and often about riding in the car to get there too. He'll be wearing his puppy collar and lead for maybe the first time, and taking in more new scents and noises than we can even imagine.
You'll be going to school too! A good puppy class will set you and your pup on the way to a successful learning partnership. You may be learning new ways of doing things and updating your existing training skills. Long gone are the days of rolled up newspapers and stern commands. Today's puppies learn faster and happier with rewards and carefully staged lessons.
Here are three essentials to check out before enrolling your precious pup on their first puppy course.
Credentials In the UK dog trainers do not need to provide certificates to prove they are accredited trainers. However most good trainers will have taken courses to develop their skills and to ensure they are able to do their best for your dog.
Finding a puppy class
- The Kennel Club has an Accredited Trainer scheme and instructors who have fulfilled the requirements may place KCAI after their names. You'll also see KCAI CD which stands for Kennel Club Accredited Instructor Companion Dogs. There are many other types of activities, such as Gundog training, Ringcraft (for show dogs) and Obedience trials which your puppy may enjoy later on.
- The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (ADPT) website has a wealth of knowledge and information about all aspects of training classes. Check their trainer listings for a puppy class near you. These will be run by a member of the ADPT and this increases the probability that they will be up-to-speed on modern training methods and take a professional approach to running classes.
- Ask local dog walkers with well-behaved dogs for personal recommendations. Nearly all dog owners love talking about their dogs and will be keen to pass on the details of a training group that their own dog enjoyed.
- Check out local Facebook groups. Many small dog training groups can have impeccable credentials but prefer to keep things small and local. Again, read the reviews and look at any photos the group posts to see if dogs and owners look happy and relaxed.
Deciding which class to choose
If possible, ask to watch a puppy class before you decide to enrol. This is the start of your pup's life with you and it's important to make the very best choice you can. Here are some questions to help you decide.
- Is the instructor friendly and welcoming to you and your pup?
- How many puppies are in the group? A large group (over 8) means your pup will get less attention and could well be intimidated.
- Is the class is quiet and focused? Always avoid a class with lots of barking and shouting.
- Activities should be short and enable the pups to succeed at the task. The instructor should manage pace and variety for owners and puppies.
When to start
Puppy classes can get booked up very quickly. If you can, it's a good idea to do your research before your new pup comes home. Especially as prices can vary quite a lot, usually depending on the cost of the venue. Take travel time and parking charges into account too.
Your puppy can start school as soon as they have had the 2nd vaccination. The earlier you can start training, the easier it will be for your puppy to fit into a training schedule. And like every school gate, it can be very supportive to share tales of puppy biting and toilet training with people going through the same thing!