All too often, Puppy Preschool is an after-thought for new puppy owners. Perhaps they are confident in raising a puppy, they don’t have time, or they are waiting until their puppy has finished their vaccination. Other families might not sign up because they have another dog at home, so they aren’t worried about “socialisation”. In this blog post we will look at some reasons why Puppy Preschool should be a top priority when you bring home a new family member.
“I’ve always had *insert breed here*, so i know how to train this puppy”
Even experienced dog owners can find a number of benefits in attending puppy classes. In many cases a new puppy will be joining the family because an older dog has recently passed away. This means, for many families, it has been 10+ years since they have owned a puppy. Joining a puppy class can be a great way to find out what’s new in the world of dog training, as well as an opportunity to jog your memory on some of the puppy problems that you haven’t had to deal with for over a decade! Every puppy is an individual too, so this puppy may bring a range of challenges that you have not yet encountered, and your class instructor will be able to help you survive puppy-hood.
“I have another dog at home, so my puppy has plenty of socialisation”
Socialisation refers to the process of introducing your new puppy to a range of new people, animals, places, and experiences. When we bring our new puppy home at 8 weeks old, they are in their critical socialisation period. This means their brains are like sponges, ready to take on new information. If you set them up with plenty of positive introductions to new experiences they will develop into confident and curious young adults, but if they are limited in their exposure or they have scary experiences, they can become timid and afraid in new situations. Puppy Preschool is a safe opportunity to bring your puppy into a new environment where they can meet new people, and learn to focus and relax in a stimulating environment. Play time with other puppies is a fun component of Puppy Preschool, but there is so much more to be gained by attending a well run class.
“I can’t take my puppy out until he is fully vaccinated”
The critical socialisation period is finished by approximately 14-16 weeks of age. It is still important to continue introducing your puppy to new experiences beyond this age, but they are likely to be more cautious in unfamiliar situations. A pup that is kept at home, without any new experiences in the outside world, until they are fully vaccinated at 16-18 weeks of age has lost a wonderful opportunity to easily make happy associations with the big wide world. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour and the Australian Veterinary Association both agree that the benefit of attending puppy classes prior to completing puppy vaccinations far outweighs the risk of disease spread, which is minimal when attending a class run indoors on disinfected floors. In addition to puppy classes you can also take your puppy to friends houses, on car rides, and to other places where you can carry them. We have even had clients who take their pup out in a stroller so they can see the sights before they are fully vaccinated!
“I’ll go to a training class later”
Prevention is better than a cure! There is no time like the present to begin teaching your puppy the skills he will need to make an excellent addition to your family. By attending puppy classes within the first few weeks of bringing your puppy home, you can teach them what you expect right from the start. There is no need to wait for problems to appear before you start training! Keep in mind that many well-run puppy classes book out weeks in advance, so if you are planning on bringing a new puppy home try to book them into a class as soon as possible. We love when clients phone us before their puppy even comes home!
In summary, Puppy Preschool is a fun opportunity for you to help your puppy experience new places, new people, new dogs, and new skills. At Treat. Play. Love. we keep our class size small to maximise the benefit for you and your puppy. We prioritise helping each puppy feel safe and confident in all class interactions, and we love helping new owners teach their puppy the skills they will need to make great pets.