If you have just adopted a puppy, you probably started this adventure with full enthusiasm.
You want to do everything right from the beginning, you have already received many tips and tricks and maybe you have already read a lot.
And maybe you’ve already signed up for puppy classes at the nearest dog training facility.
That’s just what people do … right?
Fortunately, in recent years (or decades), the typical “dog school” is being viewed more and more critically.
In the past, it was normal to train the young dog to obey and that was the end of the matter for the rest of the dog’s life. People learned to be strict and to demand obedience.
The needs of the dog, its individual peculiarities and possible challenges were not taken into account.
Fortunately, this is changing little by little.
But is that enough?
Let’s just look at the classic program of a dog school. Heel and sit, possibly a recall, and sometimes the heel is replaced by “free following” (just sounds nicer).
These are actually things that can sometimes be useful in everyday life, but nothing of it is really necessary (except for the recall).
The advantage of these exercises is that dog and human does something together and that is of course good for the bond.
Then in the classic puppy class, there is free play. So the puppies are let off-leash, sometimes in groups of 2, sometimes all together. And here is the problem.
Don’t get me wrong, a well-supervised free play is a great way for the humans to observe and assess, practice reading body language, and the dogs have fun.
Unfortunately though, due to lack of competence, distraction, or inappropriate group size/composition, this free play is a great opportunity to traumatize the young dogs early on.
Because there is so much to consider with free play, even among puppies.
After all, it would be wonderful if they just got along because they are puppies and everyone is always nice. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Bullying, chasing & fear are often part of the picture in such puppy classes. This is then commented with “he has to learn that”, “they work through that themselves”, “if you help, he won’t be social”, etc.
But we must not forget that these experiences are one of the first (if not the first) with different conspecifics. Most of the time, puppies only know their littermates and their parents (dogs that look alike and are similar in type to themselves).
Imagine what it must be like for a little Maltese facing a Mastiff for the first time.
It is not very surprising that tact would be required, is it?
So what belongs in a good puppy class (because they do exist)?
The focus at this age should definitely be on socialization (no, this is not limited to playing with other puppies). The puppy should get to know many new things. Of course, this starts in the household. But there are also many places that your puppy should get to know. After all, you want to do a lot with your dog later, right?
So these new things are at best even individually tailored to you and your dog.
A good puppy group does not (only) take place at the dog training facility.
In terms of exercises, there are then very many opinions and preferences of the trainers. The important thing is that they match your own and that your dog learns things that you can really use later in life.
I, therefore, like to focus on exercises that are perhaps a bit difficult and every dog should know how them. These are cooperation signals + treatments from medical training, muzzle (can always be necessary… e.g. when the car died and you have to take a cab or public transport) and recall.
Also, loose leash makes sense to me. Whereby the puppies do not go for a walk yet. So a few tips are enough to prevent pulling in the first place.
And of course, there can be play breaks in a good puppy class.
These are very well supervised (the trainer does not chat, but always has his eyes on the puppies, explains body language and so on, and intervenes immediately if a game turns ugly) and the puppies are grouped according to their temperament.
Bullying is immediately interrupted in a friendly manner and the two dogs no longer run free with each other.
If a puppy is hiding, it may first look at everything from a distance or it gets to know the other puppies individually. In any case, the human may and should help.
So you see, it also goes really great.
So if you are not sure, talk to the trainer in advance and ask about things that are important to you. Watching is also allowed at many dog schools (without your dog).
You don’t have a puppy group in your area that is a really good fit?
Then don’t compromise at all.
Instead, an online puppy class is a great alternative.
Sure, there’s no free play among the participants (unless there happen to be 2 close to each other), but that doesn’t have to be a problem.
To compensate, you can also look for suitable play partners or even sovereign adult dogs that like puppies in your social circle or even via social media.
Sometimes an analysis of the meetings is also possible, depending on the provider of the online course (I am very happy to offer this, for example, so as not to leave you alone).
Armed with all this knowledge, you are now ready to start with your puppy.
I would be very happy to accompany you. To talk about how I can help you with your puppy, click *here*
See you soon 😉