We’ve just had Christmas and I know that so many families have just got their first, or their next puppy or rescue dog. Christmas time for many families is a great time to get a dog,  lots of adults have time away from work in which they can focus on those critical first few weeks with their new dogs. Some people will be getting a dog as part of their new year’s resolutions – they’ve invited this special dog into their lives to help them get fit, or feel less lonely or to help turn over a new leaf. Whatever the reason lots of puppies have gone into new homes this Christmas time.

I’ve had just over a year’s break from running puppy classes and in that time, I’ve been working mostly with assistance dogs in training and in behaviour modification. Of course, training assistance dogs involves lots of obedience and puppy training but training is done in a very different way to your standard puppy training classes. Our assistance dog training is all about equipping our dog owners with the skills and knowledge to train their dogs and to problem solves most situations that arise whereas most classically structured puppy classes are all about letting the puppies play together and learning a list of set commands.

This can be problematic though. So many of the dogs I have worked with who are dog reactive/agressive developed this reactivity because they were socialised wrong. Their owner, under the best of intentions let them play with every dog they met as a puppy, they greeted every dog on lead they met and then gradually their dog became more and more anxious or over excited or aggressive and in so many circumstances this started in puppy class or puppy playgroup. Most dog owners know about socialising their dogs but don’t know HOW to do it. The process of habituation is simple when you know how and if you can read dogs body language and know when you need to intervene and when not to. When you get socialisation (habituation) wrong it can be disastrous for a dog’s future relationships with other dogs, other people and the environment. So, we take a different approach. We teach our customers how to correctly habituate their dogs to different settings, objects, animals and people so that their dogs will be comfortable and calm around them. 

Another main issue i have seen from classic puppy training classes is that the puppies learn to perform brilliantly in the classroom environment but then are completely distracted in public and at home. Dogs are not naturally good at generalising what they've learnt to other environments and positions. Dogs, like children are also very easily distracted. Teaching them how to do something just isn't enough, they need to learn how to focus and why focusing on you is so beneficial if they're ever going to learn to be obedient in lots of different environments. Because of this, our puppy training is play focused with a strong empathis on building your value to your dog so that they are more likely to choose listening to you over environmental distractions. 

Finally, standard puppy training classes rarely equip dog owners the vital knowledge they need to manage their dogs continued education, understand and respond to your dog’s emotions and problem solve common issues as they arise which means that so many dog owners whose dogs went through puppy and basic obedience classes still need behavioural modification consultancy with their dogs as they grow up when, in many circumstances, if they had known how to prevent the problem arising and had known what early signs of difficulty were the problem should not have escelated to the point they needed further proffessional intervention. Because of this, I decided to create a puppy course which focuses on all aspects of puppy ownership and development from puppyhood into adulthood. Our puppy course starts each week with a short educational presentation which gives our puppy owners the knowledge they will need for their dog’s life. On week 1 we cover basic dog training techniques and the role of rewards and targets in training. On week 2 we cover reading your dog’s emotions & how to respond….

Week 3 The do’s and don’ts of socialisation

Week 4 – Expectations for your dog and household & toilet training solutions

Week 5 – Managing and preventing common puppy problems including jumping up and nipping

Week 6 – Exercises & games to build the reliability of commands in real world situations

On the final week we hold our class outside in real world environments to teach our wonderful puppy owners how to generalise training to all sorts of environments and around distractions.

Interested in finding out more or booking onto our puppy class?

Then visit: http://www.pawsitivesquad.co.uk/Puppy-Training/

Why i scrapped the classic puppy class system

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