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Puppy training: a head start to life

Puppy training: a head start to life

Take your puppy as close as possible to eight weeks of age to a *good* puppy school.
However, if you can not locate a well run puppy class then it is better to not go to one at all!

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The main reason to take a puppy to a first-rate puppy school is for education and preventative maintenance for both human and dog. If owners know exactly what to look for, what to expect, how to communicate and what to do and what not to do it is likely that they will not make mistakes.

Puppies will understand strange human requirements and grow up as well behaved adults that fit happily into family life. They will have an optimistic outloook on things in the world, have impulse control and act politely around other people and unfamiliar dogs,want to do what is requested of them first time and can be taken safely anywhere. They will be a pleasure to own and are likely to have happy and interesting lives and grow old graciously.

However, without sufficient early teaching during puppy hood and on-going guidance and education during adolescence many puppies quickly grow into boisterous and out-of- control teenagers. They sometimes pay for their owner's mistakes - including not attending a good puppy school - with their lives.

Good puppy schools are very hard to locate!

If you can not find one that can start your puppy between 8-14 weeks of age then it is far better NOT to subject your puppy to the stresses and negative experiences encountered at an overcrowed or poorly run one! Many puppies that do attend such puppy schools are severely traumatised and take a long time to recover.

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If an owner does not know how to socialise their puppy correctly it is much more likely to develop training and behavioural problems that may be directly attributable to the class to which they took their puppy. Even though a puppy school trainer has the best of intentions s/he may unwittingly create exactly the problems for the puppy that the owner needs to prevent.

For a more detailed analysis of what can go wrong click HERE for an article ('Are Puppy Parties Making Dogs Dangerous?' ) by a member of the UK's Registry of Canine Behaviourists.

Socialization is vital for proper mental and social development in dogs but it needs to be offered correctly. Mistakes easily made in socialization can backfire and produce an overly shy or overly aggressive dog.

Click HERE for an article from the Karen Pryor Clicker website on how NOT to socialise any dog and for a socialisation check list.

Assuming you can locate a good puppy school where puppies have an escape route and can interact properly with each other, there is conflicting advice by vets, breeders and trainers as to what is the right age to go to such a puppy school. Owners are confused and often postpone making any decision and soon it is far too late!

They are confused by the medical argument from some breeders, dog trainers, vets and puppy stores that if owners take a puppy too early to puppy school he could get a fatal disease, such as parvo virus, from a contaminated sidewalk outside the vet surgery or puppy school. Therefore it is best to keep all puppies quarantined, in cotton wool and isolated and not allowed on the ground outside the house till two weeks after their last vaccination.

A counter argument takes into consideration both the medical and behavioural risks involved. People look at the bigger picture, weigh up the pros and cons and conclude that the latter risks outweigh the former and that puppies aged between 8-12 weeks should attend a well run and spotlessly hygienic puppy school that enforces strict infection control procedures 100% of the time.

It is an almost certainty that a 16 weeks old puppy that has not already been appropriately socialised to people, other puppies, things (e.g. skateboards, bicycles, horses, fire engines, etc), as well as a variety of surfaces and different places will grow up with poor bite inhibition and other developmental disadvantages.

Behavioural problems often develop which is why thousands of puppies of all breeds that have either not been to puppy school, or have been to a poorly run and/or an unhygienic one, never make it to their first birthday.

People who run puppy classes may need to make up numbers and therefore be willing to enrol your puppy; but, in reality, the window of opportunity has been well and truly missed and it is much too late to start puppy school. There is potential for doing more harm than good - to not only your puppy but to other people's puppies!

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Ursula, the piglet, at C.L.E.A.R Dog Training's unique Sunday morning puppy classes - August 2005.

From 2001-2012 over 5500 puppies participated in our week night puppy schools run at several vet surgeries in Brisbane and at our unique flexi-week Sunday puppy schools. However, as of late 2012 C.L.E.A.R no longer offers group training puppy classes and specialises in home based training only.

The reason is that we have found that for most owners and their puppies, no matter what the breed, individual in-home training with the whole family is  more beneficial, time efficient, enjoyable and effective - at both ends of the lead!

In the long run it is also much more economical for owners. They become knowlegeable very quickly on how to meet all their puppy's needs and how to communicate effectively with him. They soon have a safe and ideal family pet dog that is unlikely to be either rehomed or to require visits to veterinary behaviourists and trainers to fix behaviour problems that need never have arisen in the first place.

If you can locate a good school that starts within the right time frame for your puppy then most definitely enrol in it, but check it out very carefully before doing so! And, please, do NOT fall into the trap of thinking that by attending a puppy school for one hour for 4-5 weeks that your job in educating your puppy is finished and that you have no more teaching to do.

If you can not find one then a better option is to contact us for in-home training combined with longer term alternative appropriate and less intrusive socialisation to people, places and other dogs.


Click HERE on how to choose a good puppy school

Click HERE for a list of puppy schools (in alphabetical order) in Brisbane
[This list is being updated, please come back later]