Puppy Class Tips For The Modern Dog Trainer
It is our job to start puppies off on the right paw.
As a dog trainer, we know that those first few months of a dog’s life are the months that shape who he’s going to be for the rest of his life. Socialization and structure for a puppy are incredibly important, especially when they begin turning into adolescents. Part of puppyhood should include access to a well run puppy class which you can provide for your clients. There are many things a good puppy class can include, these are 10 of them.
1. Socialization To Touch
An important quality for a family dog to have is the ability to be handled by the family members, especially if children are present. Although tugging and pulling on puppies is inappropriate handling, we want to build a positive association with different handling so the client’s puppy can be a good family pet. Focusing on handling ears, paws, muzzles, and tails while receiving treats will help a client build a good association with their puppy.
2. Socialization to Vet Procedures
A location that quickly becomes scary to puppies can be a veterinarian’s office. Something that we can market to veterinarians is our ability to make a veterinarian’s job easier by training for a vet visit. This can include introducing puppies to low stress handling techniques, weight scales, muzzles, and routine procedures such as ear drops, teeth brushing, or nail trimming.
3. Potty Training
Everyone knows that puppies come with potty training. It’s very important in a puppy class to touch on potty training strategies like routines, management, and reinforcement.
4. Resource Guarding
This is a very important subject for all families, whether their dog or puppy currently shows symptoms or not. Going over what resource guarding is and how it can present itself is important, along with modification techniques and prevention such as adding food to a bowl as you walk by. This can easily be practiced in a puppy class.
5. Socialization to Sounds
Noise sensitivity can show up in dogs when they are not properly socialized to sounds as a puppy. MP3s on your phone or mp3 player can be used softly during puppy class and slowly made louder throughout the class to desensitize puppies to noises like thunder, construction, fireworks, and other loud noises. Calming music such as Through A Dog’s Ear can also be played to keep class a little bit calmer.
Before an owner can expect their puppy to perform basic obedience cues such as sit and down, we need to work on their puppy’s focus. This is something they can constantly work on throughout the whole class.
7. Mat Work
Puppies are always go, go, go. As a trainer and an owner, we have to teach them to stop every once in a while and be calm. Mat work can be a great way to teach puppies to calm down and hold still for longer than two seconds. It can also help less confident puppies feel more confident in new locations during socialization.
8. Socialization With People
As a family dog, owner’s want their puppies to be comfortable with house guests and anyone else they come in contact with. When appropriate, games like pass the puppy can help puppies meet different people in a positive light.
9. Toy Play
Reinforcement training requires many different types of reinforcement in our tool bags when we work with dogs and puppies. Having owners get down and actually play with their puppies to reinforce good behavior gives us one more tool. Keeping a puppy’s drive for toys through adulthood will make training easier. Sometimes people don’t know how to play with their dogs and it is our job as a trainer to teach them. Toy play can also teach puppies how to respect their owner’s hands when it comes to puppy biting.
I like to include touch in my puppy training because it teaches a puppy how to interact with people and hands in a positive light instead of biting. It is also a gateway to training many different obedience or modification cues. When highly reinforced, this can also become another reinforcer for the owners.
Puppy class shapes a dog’s life. When we can start a puppy out on the right paw, this will lead to better socialized dogs who can enjoy specialized classes that you offer with their owner. It’s our duty as a trainer to improve the well-being of the canine species. This starts with puppies.
What exercises do you include in your puppy class that you feel are important?
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