Kind Corner: The when, how and why of puppy training
Today, we bring you a helpful article for puppy guardians by Maren Bruun of Paw in Hand. Having a puppy comes with a lot of questions, and dog trainer Maren has all the answers about puppy training with some very helpful tips any puppy guardian can use.
Let’s get reading!
Puppies are cute and adorable, but they take lots of time and attention.
Start early with puppy training
Puppies are sponges for learning from the time their eyes first open at just under two weeks of age or so. The prime period for learning is between 5 – 16 weeks. A dog’s first 3 months are the most critical for socialization. Your puppy has already been learning lots before they enter your life.
Puppies are learning with every interaction. They soon figure out what is relevant, what isn’t, what is safe, what is scary, what to do, when to do it, and when to not bother. They are learning what is enjoyable, what is scary, what to try again, what to avoid, what and who is worth responding to, and more.
They are also making emotional associations with every experience they have. Ensure your puppy feels safe so that they don’t learn worrisome, problematic behaviours, such as aggression, lunging and barking.
First impressions are not forgotten, so it’s especially important you help your puppy learn the right things from the start.
The answer to the vaccination dilemma
The thought of your new puppy getting sick is scary. You may have heard that you shouldn’t take your puppy out or let them be around other dogs until they’ve had all of their vaccinations.
However, both the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) say that puppies can start puppy class as early as 7-8 weeks, provided that they have had at least one set of vaccines, at least a week before the start of class.
Be sure to check with your veterinarian about risks in your area and for your specific puppy.
Behavioural issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.
Group Puppy Classes
Group classes led by AnimalKind trainers have protocols in place for cleaning, disinfecting, and screening puppies for vaccination status and illness.
The little things really do matter! Small class sizes mean that the trainer can monitor each pup and guardian team and give timely feedback. AnimalKind trainers will have a maximum of 6 puppies per class.
An advantage of classes is the opportunity to socialize with other puppies. Puppy play is carefully monitored in class. Guardians learn a lot by watching other pups play and by listening to the trainer’s narration and explanations of dog body language. They will also provide advice on when to intervene in play, to ensure your pup doesn’t have, or cause another pup, to have a negative social experience.
Private lessons in your home don’t include puppy friends but have many benefits that come with individualized attention, such as adaptation to different learning styles and the chance to choose which skills to focus on.
You, your family, your puppy, your neighbourhood, and your lifestyle can all be taken into account in a customized training plan. For puppy interactions, most people have friends with suitable adult dogs that their puppy can have playdates with.
Meeting other dogs
It is important that your pup meets sociable dogs during the socialization window to help them continue to learn canine communication with different types of dogs. Be sure that the other dogs are vaccinated and are healthy. Meet in your friend’s yard or quiet, secure places where only dogs of known health status have been and make sure your puppy avoids other dogs’ poop!
Why do training?
You can get a head start on many lessons when your pup is a few weeks of age. In fact, I say, you SHOULD get started. Puppies are fully capable of learning so take advantage of that and guide their education!
Other helpful resources
- How to find the best dog trainer
- A guide to puppy training
- Kind Corner: Overcoming your biggest dog training challenge – Nail trimming!
- When to seek help from a specialized dog trainer