A typical message that pops into our inbox regularly.
“Are you running puppy classes? I’m looking to socialise my dog.”
That makes sense, after all we’ve been told for years that puppy classes are essential for making sure we have a well socialised adult dog, right? Wrong.
After teaching puppy classes and courses for 10 years, I know that a quality puppy class is all about education not socialisation and here’s why. As a new puppy owner, you want to live with your dog as part of your family. Common aims include being able to let your dog and children play together, be able to introduce your dog to your extended family, take your dog on holiday, to the pub, out for long walks in the fresh air.
To achieve all of this you need good quality information. Puppy classes should be all about education, delivered in a way that helps you and your dog learn.
Check out "Do you need to socialise a young dog"
But my pup needs socialising!
Highly unlikely. Most pups have spent 8 weeks in a litter learning how to get along with their siblings. Up to this point in their life other dogs have equalled play, company, and security.
What they need to learn now is how to listen to you whilst other pups are nearby and that not all dogs are available as playmates. They need to learn about other breeds and that their behaviour isn’t the same as their litter mates. They need to learn how to be around adolescent dogs, mature dogs, entire dogs, neutered dogs. A pup that doesn’t learn these skills at a young age can become a lead walking nightmare with no recall as it gets older.
Puppy class is the place to learn how to do this, but not the place to practice. Dogs do better with socialisation when they can move freely and have lots of space.
Read our article "successful socialisation during a pandemic"
Where did the myth that puppies need to socialise in a class come from? This dates back to the 1990’s, and at the time it seemed like a good idea, but with experience we learned that classes with free playing pups come with risks of problem behaviours in the future. Experienced trainers rarely recommend free playing puppy classes in 2021.
Why "passing the puppy" could cause problems in the future
You need a class to learn about your dog. You are asking about puppy class because you want to do the absolute best for your dog. You know that learning more about your pup’s behaviour and how to teach them will help you achieve this.
This is a great attitude to have, and I have learned over lockdown that the best place for you to be is online. With online learning you can focus on what the trainer is saying without worrying about what your dog is doing. You can listen to other people’s questions and benefit from the answers they are given. You will get videos which you can watch over and over again. You will be given detailed training plans, individually designed for you, and will finish each session knowing which steps to take next.
With pups things change quickly and you’ll have lots of questions. With the online community it has never been easier to connect with others between classes. You can join our online support groups, make some new friends, and find out that puppy problems are normal. You can upload your progress for more feedback from the class leader.
We are in an exciting place at the Dog Learning Centre and in the world of Dog Training generally. The online experience has allowed us to serve our clients with high quality puppy training, and canine behaviour information for all ages. We look forward to working with you.
If you are looking for more information on our online classes and courses connect with us here.