You just got your new puppy, and it is so exciting! Now it’s time to enroll your puppy in a class. But how do you know it’s the right class for you and your puppy? Here are some guidelines you can use:
**Choose a place that requires puppies be vaccinated (as age appropriate) as well as proof of deworming or fecals. Early socialization is really important for your puppy, but we don’t want to put your puppy’s health at risk.
**Choose a trainer who uses positive methods. Puppies learn best with positive reinforcement. Often we hear that the owner doesn’t want to “bribe” their dog with food or always have to carry food. If done correctly with positive reinforcemant you are not bribing your puppy, and you won’t always have to reward every thing your dog does. But think of it like this-if you showed up every day at work, but never got paid-would you keep going? Most of us wouldn’t! But if you know you’re getting paid and sometimes you might get a bonus for doing a really good job-you’re probably going to show up and work harder!
**We recommend classes that allow some puppy socialization/play time. But we recommend classes where the puppy has to earn this time! Learning correct social behavior is really important for your puppies mental health and future. But we don’t want it to be a free for all, where the puppies are not monitored. Safety first!
** We recommend classes where the trainer is willing to work with your future goals for your puppy. Maybe you plan on showing your dog in obedience so you want to make sure your puppy learns to walk on your left side from the start. Maybe your biggest concern is that your puppy walks politely in any position. Your trainer should listen to your concerns!
**Be prepared to have homework! Your puppy (and you!) cannot learn everything you need to know if one hour a week. So be ready for homework-it’s back to school!
**And coming from the veterinary side, look for a class that also teaches your puppy how to handle things that they will need for their whole life-how to stand for an exam, have their mouth, teeth, ear, eyes, and feet handled, how to stand on a scale, and more. This can make your puppy’s future vet and grooming visits so much happier!
Southern Animal Hospital’s next puppy classes will start early June 2017-check our website for more information www.southernanimalhospital.com
Boo Donoho, DVM