''Is a badly run puppy class better than no puppy class at all?'' This question was sent into me and i think it is such a great question and something I hope makes you stop and think.
So let’s look into it.
Puppy classes tend to be for puppies aged between 12 weeks old up until 6 months, so we need to be looking at what is happening for a puppy during those ages.
Most people will get their puppy around the age of 12 weeks old.
We know that during the age of 3 - 16 weeks old a puppy goes through what is called the sensitive period.
The sensitive period is a time when a puppy is open and receptive to new experiences, which is such an important period in a puppy's life for the socialising and habituation period of a puppy.
Socialisation and habituation sets the blueprint for your puppy to become the dog that you are going to get later on in life.
I hope i haven't scared you all off!
Those first few weeks a puppy is home with their owner, where they are receptive to all the new experiences around them. So we want to be ensuring we are building up and making a bank of positive experiences for the puppy.
Those experiences will be setting the dog up for their future, for how they are going to perceive experiences and how they are going to cope and react in situations.
So for me, taking a puppy to a poorly run puppy class during their most sponge-like period can be damaging to the puppy and the effects from a badly run puppy class can be life long.
We want to ensure we are providing a puppy with the best set up in life. We are not going to be able to stop all ‘bad things’ from happening to a puppy but it is important to build up that bank of good experiences, so when the puppy is faced with a not so pleasant experience, they can bounce back from them with effects being as little as possible.
So what we do look for when looking at puppy classes?
Puppy classes should be controlled. It is not a free-for-all.
Staff should be stepping in when needed and putting breaks in play. We don’t want the play to get out of hand or allowing a puppy to become overwhelmed or frightened.
The number of staff members. One person cannot be on top of 10+ puppies' wellbeings and individual needs.
Puppy classes that break down into smaller groups is a good thing to be seeing. Often they match up puppies to suit each other within that group.
Space! We want to ensure the room or hall is large enough for the number of puppies they have and enough space where if a puppy wanted to get away from something, they can.
Speak to others who have attended those classes.
Ensure training is positive! Again, speak to others who have experienced them. We do not want to be using any adverse training methods.
If the puppy class start talking about ‘being alpha’ or ‘pack leader’ get out of there! They are not using up to date, scientific-based or likely using positive based training methods.
If you are looking for puppy classes check out www.findadogtrainer.co.uk to find your nearest DTC Instructor.
Written by Leanne McWade