Puppy preschool – a good idea or not?

Puppy preschool – a good idea or not?

Often puppy preschool groups are socialisation only classes, where (hopefully) small groups of puppies are interacting together.  Often, for some, these classes can be stressful and chaotic for both pup and owner.  Because of their age and limited mental capabilities and lack of impulse control, they are often put into situations where they are set up to fail. Calling a single puppy away from a seething mass of squirming excitable moving puppies is no mean feat, even if you have a highly food motivated puppy.

My belief, is that initially a few weeks bonding and learning family/house rules can make all the difference.  Once you have these basics in place, depending on your puppy’s level of mental maturity start looking for recommended and experienced trainers who run their own courses.

Many of my clients who attend my six week course’s have previously attended a puppy preschool course run by a vet practice or pet store.  I am regularly told by these clients who attend early puppy training classes that they feel these classes were really a waste of time and that they don’t feel they benefited from the experience.

I believe the problem is that the organisers of these classes tend to forget about one very important step.  Building a bond and relationship between dog/owner while having a dog who is friendly with other dogs it’s important that it’s not at the expense of your dog completely ignoring you and trying to drag you across the road to greet another dog.

In my opinion it appears that most puppy owners are not getting their real needs met and I feel that some of the advice given is questionable.

How experienced is the trainer? I believe that these classes should be run by the most experienced trainers as during this period puppies are in one of the most crucial developmental periods.

Not all puppies are the same so it’s important that a trainer can and will balance the needs of the group but at the same time meet the needs of the individual puppy and analyse both their breed traits and individual personality.

If you do decide to attend early puppy training classes (puppy pre-school) have a clear understanding of your expectations from these classes and what the instructor can and will deliver.  If this is not your first experience with a dog it’s likely you may have more knowledge and experience that the person giving the advice.  So ….. If you want a deeper understanding of dog behaviour, relationship and communication I suggest you explore a few options.

Tips on How to introduce a puppy to your family and pets

Tips on How to introduce a puppy to your family and pets

All dogs think in a very logical way, canine logic is more simplistic than human logic. Dogs are pack animals with a dominance hierarchy. They respect and respond to their pack leader and are primarily interested in survival and comfort. Dogs need to learn how to have appropriate interactions with both their own and other species.  This can often be a little challenging, where possible make sure that the puppy meets other species such as cats, horses while very young.  Early socialization to other species reduces the likelihood of future problems.


Meeting the family

A puppy must learn to follow instructions from all members of the family in the home.  It is particularly important for dogs to get used to children and this also gives adults an opportunity to educate our young future dog owners on how to touch and approach puppies and dogs. All responsible family members should handle the puppy.


Puppies and adult dogs

It’s best to introduce a new puppy to your adult dog in a place that’s new, or neutral to both of them, because dogs are territorial by nature. If possible, have two people help out by handling your dog and puppy for you. You don’t want either of them to think you’re playing favorites. Let them sniff around and check each other out while you talk to them softly. Watch for body language that could signal aggression, which includes:

  • Staring
  • Stiff-legged walking
  • Barred teeth or growling
  • Ears laid back or raised hair on the neck or back
  • One dog trying to mount the other

If you notice any aggressive behavior, distract the dogs and lead them away from each other. Let them cool off and introduce them again a little later. If the meeting goes well, take them both for a walk. The key to introducing a puppy to your dog is to be alert and in control at all times. If you have more than one other dog, they should meet your puppy one at a time. This will allow you to stay in control and reduce some of the tension in their first encounter.

Always be present to supervise your dog’s when they’re with your new puppy. If you can’t be around, separate them or put them in their crates. Allow at least a month before you allow them to be alone unsupervised together.


Introducing your puppy to a cat

Introducing a new puppy to your cat is fairly simple; you should allow the cat to determine the pace of the meeting. You should designate areas that are off-limits to your puppy. This will give your cat “safe zones” Don’t leave them unsupervised until you’re very sure they can get along. Watch for any aggressive behavior by either animal.


Meeting a new baby

Allow the dog to see and smell, but not to touch a new baby.  You should praise, play with, and feed the dog in the baby’s presence.  However be very mindful that an infant’s squeals and jerky movement can stimulate nervous behaviour in a puppy/dog.  If you are at worried with your puppy’s responses seek professional help.

New basic dog manners classes starting

We are taking enrolments for our next course which will probably be the final course for 2013.  This course is suitable for puppies and older dogs and numbers are strictly limited.  We will take a break from the courses over December due to the warmer temperatures and begin again early February.  Individual lessons and in-home consultations will still be available – and these can be worked around your schedule.

Our current course is under way and we have a great bunch of puppy’s, adolescent dogs and great owners to work with.

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