Everyday as the world turns, new things are also turning up. Right now the hot thing to do when you get your new puppy is to take it to a “puppygarten” class.
What is a puppygarten class? It is a class designed for puppies as early as eight weeks old. It has been said the best time to start training a puppy is “yesterday.”
Children start kindergarten at an early age to prepare them for school and to learn some rules of behavior and now it is time for our puppies to do the same.
The old way of training a dog was the choke collar method and some really harsh correction methods; today the train of thought goes to gentler methods and earlier training.
Puppies begin to learn right after birth and the stages between birth and 16 weeks of age are prime learning times for a new puppy. They are extremely responsive to learning and retaining what they have learned. Since socialization is of extreme importance when you have a dog, what better way to provide it and also learn a few things than with a puppygarten?
Just as puppy shots are an important part of having a puppy, so is teaching your dog certain early behaviors and the possibility of disease transmission is very rare (if at all) with this age group participating in such a class.
What does a puppygarten class consist of?
A class is usually six to eight weeks long. Most classes consist of grade levels, which means once a puppy learns a set of exercises they move up to the next level, with each puppy moving at whatever its learning expertise is, and when it is ready to go on.
Levels depend on the instructor and might consist of level one, learning name recognition, and learning to sit and to stay down. Level two may consist of learning to leash walk, to stay and another simple command or two. Each level allows the puppy and its owner to advance at their pace and also allows them to go backward if a refresher course is needed. Some classes offer even more extensive training as puppies are like a sponge and can absorb a great deal of education when done properly.
A good trainer will have the first class for owners only and explain what to expect and possibly give you the names of some books to read and a simple exercise or two to practice with your puppy. You should bring your own treats to feed your puppy whenever is does what it is supposed to and you should also expect chaos the first time or two until the puppies understand why they are there.
What should you be looking for in regard to a class?
A trainer that is friendly, competent and has confidence in his/her ability
A trainer that will allow you to ask questions and will give you answers
A place where you and your puppy feel comfortable, that is friendly and warm
A place where puppies and owners get the proper coaching
A facility that is clean and there is regard for proper safety
Allows for playtime for the puppies with each other
Does not allow children to run around, the environment is conducive to training the puppy
The training is gentle, no punishing or physical force used on the puppies
The trainer is respectful of the puppy and the owner’s needs and training goals
A good idea before you start a class is to visit several and find one you feel most comfortable with and one that has puppies close to your dog’s size.
Now where can you find these types of classes? Your veterinarian can be a good source of information, the telephone book, referrals from other dog owners, dog clubs, breeders, your local pet store and of course the Internet.
Here are a few sources of Internet possibilities for you to check out:
The time spent in taking your puppy will be well spent. Many classes will take the time to introduce your new fellow to all sorts of wonderful things you would not have even thought of like: hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, hair clippers, crutches and other scary things that a puppy will encounter in life. Not to mention the fact your puppy will gain manners, social skills and good behavior lessons.