Michael Baugh CDBC, CPDT-KSA
There are lots of good reasons to take a group puppy class with your new dog. There are so many reasons, in fact, that I’m actually shocked more people don’t do it. (Can you believe fewer than 5% of new puppy owners engage in any training at all?). That’s crazy. Why? Well, for one puppy classes are so much fun. Add to that, they’re incredibly important.
Puppy classes are “brain changers.” Really good puppy classes are specially designed for dogs between 8 and 18 weeks of age, youngsters. At that stage of their development, our puppies’ brains are still growing, making connections, and creating receptacles for important brain chemicals. Puppy classes that include interesting and enriching activities like play, exposure to novel sights and sounds, as well as fun interactions with other humans can help our young dogs’ brains grow stronger (and measurably bigger, too).
Puppy classes prevent fear and aggression. Young puppies are adventurous sorts, always walking a fine line between bravery and fear. They’re figuring out what is safe in the world and what may not be so safe for them. A well-designed and properly supervised puppy class helps our young dogs learn that the world is full of wonder, with other dogs, new people, and new sights, sounds and smells. Better yet, they learn that all those new experiences come with a variety of smiles, praise and treats. Our dogs grow up learning that life is good, and the world is safe for them. They aren’t fearful, and they don’t grow up to be aggressive dogs.
Good manners start at puppy class. Our young puppies are clean slates. They haven’t learned any bad habits yet. Smart puppy classes fill their brains early on with lots of good habits, simple tasks that even very young dogs can learn. It’s amazing to see how much and how fast a very young dog can learn. They are ready, and oh so willing.
Puppy classes are good for humans. Humans who engage in early training with their young dogs bond more strongly with their dogs. We learn how to communicate with our dogs at a level other dog owners don’t. Plus, we learn skills for training our dogs even more useful and complicated tasks as they mature. So yeah, we learn stuff too.
Don’t forget reason number one: Puppy classes are fun! Seriously, they are big fun. The best puppy classes include lots of off-leash play and games for humans and their dogs. It’s low stress learning for everyone. And, c’mon, you’re in a room with lots of really cute puppies. How could it not be fun.
Now, you have permission to stop reading. Go find a reward-based puppy class in your area (message me for recommendations). Take some cute pictures from your puppy class experience, too. You can email those to me as well and I’ll post them on Instagram and my Facebook page.