• Add a puppy to your family and you can be sure of this one piece of advice from well-meaning family or friends – “Take it to puppy training classes”. Truth be told, it’s not a bad piece of advice. The trouble is it has the potential to go horribly wrong. A puppy training course is one of the most important classes you could possibly attend. It is also one of the hardest to get right when your dog is going through its most critical development phase.

    Puppy classes are usually for puppies between the ages of 8-16 weeks. Courses are normally over a 4-8 week period. The classes are run by a range of individuals including veterinary practice nurses, volunteer club instructors and qualified trainers.

    Behaviour first

    Content varies from course to course but most aim to educate puppy owners on obedience, health and nutrition, grooming and socialisation. “Socialisation” is one of the areas you should be wary of especially where free for all play is involved. What happens here is that boisterous and/or large breed puppies are allowed to play with small and/or timid puppies. With the dominant dogs terrorising the submissive ones, the result can be irreparable psychological damage, especially for those puppies who already have a negative association with other dogs. Puppies need to learn to focus on you when there are other dogs around. Showing your puppy that other dogs take priority can only lead to future obedience issues.

    Experience matters

    So what makes a course right for your puppy? First of all, make sure your class is run by a qualified and experienced trainer or behaviourist. Check that the class is not too large – 8 owners and puppies maximum – an experienced trainer will ensure that. Does the training style and class structure suit your needs and goals? You’re more likely to be happy with the results if you are.

    A good puppy class will focus on teaching owners about canine behaviour, not just basic obedience commands. If teaching your puppy to sit is all your class is concerned with, look elsewhere.

    The right puppy class won’t just train your dog, it will inspire you with confidence. If your puppy is a little too rumbustious or a slow learner, you won’t feel like you’re the class failure. A good trainer will set time aside to give you all the tools and help you need to train your puppy.

    As we at Angel Dogs know only too well, every puppy and owner is different and need to be treated that way. For details of our at-home one-on-one Puppy Management programme including a 3 week fast-track toilet training course, just click here.