I’ve been delightedly lately to have owners seeking out my help with their brand new puppies of 8 weeks or so, acknowledging the importance of getting things right from the start, and wanting one to one help for this, so they can be sure to get everything clear in their minds for their dog’s benefit. The standard response when taking on a new pup is to go to puppy training classes. These do have their benefit, but they also have their limits…
People with new puppies often ask me how soon they can start training. My answer is really that it depends what they mean by training. What I do is owner training, rather than dog training, and it is never too early to start being aware of the importance of what you are doing and how it is affecting your puppy! From 2 weeks old puppies start developing a hierarchy within their litter. Their parents would instinctively show them the leadership signals that they expect to see, so the moment you take your puppy home, they already have an understanding of hierarchy, and they know what to expect from us when it comes to leadership. So unfortunately, at the time that we are being all gooey and cuddling and fussing them, they are taking it all in thinking “gosh, I must be terribly important” – and so it begins! Before we know it, our adorable ball of fluff has either trained us, or has developed some issues.
Going to a puppy training class can help with basic obedience, and socialisation, provided your dog is comfortable with being around other packs. Many dogs develop fear of other dogs at puppy training classes though, because there is just too much going on for them! What you do in those classes will only go so far, what is of much more importance, is the relationship between you and your pup at home. Neglect to work on the relationship at home, and the classes will have a very limited impact.
The type of classes I like are the type run by vets, where it is limited to around 4 puppies per class, and it is more about how to care for your dogs from a health perspective. They don’t make promises about behaviour, but do start to give an idea of the importance of getting the relationship right from the start. I will soon be appearing at Medivet in Leigh’s puppy parties to answer some behavioural questions, but the ideal is to have a consultation in the early days, so you can learn everything that you need to know in the comfort of your own home, plus you have a life time of back up by phone and email in the consultation fee!
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