So you’ve bought home a wiggly little bundle of fur and you’re giving the new household member lots of attention and tasty meals and toys to play with; is there anything else you should be doing? Yes! Enrol your pup in puppy school! It can make a huge difference to their development. Here’s why.
Puppy school can play a vital role in socialising your pup
The period between 4-17 weeks is a critical window for learning and socialisation in dogs. During this stage, puppy’s brains are extremely plastic; capable of soaking up lots of new experiences and forming new skills. If your puppy doesn’t get opportunities to interact with unfamiliar dogs and people during this period she can become fearful as she grows up. Unfortunately some dogs deal with fear by becoming aggressive.
An aggressive fear response is incredibly problematic for you and your dog. We’ve seen cases where owners have to keep their dog muzzled and on a tight leash at all times, sneaking to the dog park after dark so they won’t run into other dogs or people. Obviously this takes a huge toll on the owner and it means the dog’s quality of life is drastically reduced.
Puppy school gives your pup the chance to interact with a variety of puppies and people in a positive environment. They’ll learn that dogs come in all different shapes and sizes and, that unfamiliar puppies and people make great playmates.
What if my puppy is scared of other dogs?
Many puppies are understandably shy or timid when they first arrive at puppy school. Perhaps they’ve already been overwhelmed by an interaction with a bigger, bouncier dog and it’s made them fearful or uncertain. However at quality puppy schools, instructors will ensure your puppy is grouped with appropriate class mates. Instructors are very aware that bad experiences early on in life can make it harder for your puppy to develop confidence in new situations. They will therefore do their best to make sure interactions are kept brief and positive and that your puppy has time to relax and regroup.
Puppy school is not just for your puppy – it’s for you too!
Particularly if this is your first time raising a pup, puppy school is a great way to learn about what your puppy needs to grow into a well-adjusted dog and about how you can help your puppy to get there.
Instructors have extensive experience working with a huge variety of breeds of dogs and will advise you on such things as health care, diet and exercise and how to read your dog’s body language.
They will also help you understand how you can adapt your body language and tone of voice to ensure your pup sees you as pack leader.
Is there a lot of preparation involved before my pup can attend puppy school?
No absolutely not! So long as your puppy has had its first vaccinations, you can enrol in puppy school today. Your puppy doesn’t need to be well-behaved (it’s a puppy!) so there’s no need to feel embarrassed if your charge acts up. Think of puppy school as kind of like playgroup for your dog. When your pup is older you can take her to obedience training but at this stage it’s all about fun and positive learning experiences.