“I’m a proud new puppy parent, and I want to do everything right!”
If the above statement has you nodding in agreement, then you’ve come to the right place.
Unfortunately, as canine professionals, we don’t hear this statement as often as you might think. But, Doglando puppy parents are a different breed… we’re hearing this more and more!
Pet parents have so many options when it comes to choosing a training program for their new puppies. To make things even trickier, they are at the mercy of pet professionals for guidance. They quickly realize that there is no standardization or consistency in theory, application, or knowledge.
And this can create big problems for puppy parents. Have you ever met (or been) a puppy parent stressing over chewed shoes or potty training? It’s a frustrating situation that sometimes leads to the new puppy getting stuck in a shelter.
Thankfully, there’s a better way!
Where can I find information about caring for my new puppy?
This is a loaded question with plenty of differing opinions, even from pet experts. For example, many people turn to their trusted veterinarian for advice.
While some vets have progressed their understanding of animal behavior, socialization, and critical periods for exposure, many are still quite traditional in their advice to not begin any form of training or socialization until the puppies have received all their necessary vaccinations.
If you receive this advice, it’s important to do your own science-based research. There are tons of great scientific articles, published by researchers, that prove and explain the importance of early socialization and training (keep reading until the end for some suggestions!)
After doing your research, you might come to the conclusion that a puppy class is exactly what you and your new pup need.
What are puppy classes?
At Doglando, we believe that puppy classes should be comprehensive, with opportunities for the puppy to:
- Develop and practice social skills.
- Build confidence.
- Learn body awareness.
- Learn to balance and stabilize.
- Learn real life skills like grooming, greeting people (especially children), and walking on a leash while sharing the side walk with bicycles, wheelchairs, pedestrians, shopping carts, people using walkers, etc.
- Exposure to different sounds, stimulus, surfaces, textures, etc.
- Physical handling and restraint exercises.
- Increased ability to cope rather than to run off or fight.
- Impulse control activities.
- Enrichment / Interactive toys for the home.
- Potty training.
Because every single puppy is completely unique, you need to consider your puppy’s temperament and development when choosing a class.
Puppy classes prepare your dog for a happy, enriched life
At Doglando, we believe that training is a lifestyle, a progressive and enriching experience that continues throughout your dog’s entire life. Ideally, puppies will continue in puppy classes for at least one year.
Why is this so important, though? Puppy classes, and the enrichment that comes with them, give puppies a fair chance to learn how to live with us humans. Then, they’re given chances to actively apply that knowledge.
After that first year, you’re bound to want to continue learning together. Continuing with training classes for another year prevents complacency and the development of bad habits… and it’s just plain fun! These are just some of the classes we’ve offered at Doglando over the years, and they all help develop your dog’s mental capacity and behavioral repertoire:
- Dock Diving
- Search and Rescue
- Scent Work
- Rally Obedience
- Lure Coursing
- … And the list goes on!
Resources on puppy socialization
Many people think that socialization begins and ends with exposing your puppy to other dogs. That’s only the beginning, though. Have a look at these resources to learn more about why, and how, you should prepare your puppy for success from the beginning.
Do I really need to focus on my puppy’s learning?
If you want to raise a well-adjusted companion dog, then yes, you truly do need to focus on your puppy’s learning.
The benefits of continuous learning outweigh the expense and your time commitment. It is so much easier to live with a dog who:
- … has critical thinking abilities.
- …. can regulate and manage excitement and arousal.
- … is adaptable and has heightened levels of coping skills to stress or new surroundings.
This is the type of dog you can take anywhere with you.
Sure, there will be challenges. But, I encourage you to think of them as an important part of the process of raising a dog.
Because from those so-called challenges, you’ll also gain so much. You’ll learn how to be patient and understanding. You’ll learn how to be consistent, but also fair. And at the end of the day, these are some of the most important lessons we’ll ever learn.
What are your thoughts on puppy socialization and learning? Have you ever taken a puppy class with your dog? Don’t be shy – start the conversation in the comments!