Time for Fun! The Benefits of Puppy Class

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By KONG Guest Blogger, Pia Silvani

The goal of early puppy training is to give puppies the best possible start in life.  Puppies’ first six months are the most important months of their entire lives.  They are crucial to social development and future well-being. This is the age when learning takes place rapidly.  Anything the pup experiences now will make a greater impression than it ever will again.  It is important to capitalize on this critically important time and set the patterns for a well-behaved dog.

Puppy class will teach your puppy that learning is fun and will establish a very special bond between the two of you.  Using positive training techniques, you will learn how to teach your puppy manners and how to prevent them from displaying unwanted behaviors.

Most puppies are keen to learn at this age.  Puppies enter what is called the juvenile stage at approximately 84 days.  At this time, they are right in the middle of the most independent, challenging phase of their lives.  Keep in mind that puppies have not had the opportunity to establish inappropriate behavior patterns, as opposed to the adolescent or adult dog whose misbehaviors must be modified or redirected.  Starting early gives you a jump-start to shaping good behavior.

You should not expect to graduate from puppy class with a fully trained dog.  That would not be realistic.  Rather, you are laying the foundation for a lifetime of training.  As the puppy grows and matures, they will be able to tackle more complicated tasks, but for now keep it simple.

When using reward-based training, first, you must find out what the puppy’s motivational triggers are. We love to use KONG products at St. Hubert’sAnimalWelfareCenterand highly recommend them in our Kindergarten Puppy classes.  Here are some of our favorites:

PLAY TOYS: 

Play toys and chew toys are two entirely different things and should not be put into a toy bin together.  Play toys are interactive toys that you and your puppy enjoy together.  Our favorite KONG toy to use when training our shelter pups are Plush Snakes, Shakers and Cozies.  They all have squeakers and extra material to make them more durable.  Note, however, these toys should not be left in a kennel run or crate since the puppy could start to shred these to get to the squeaker.

CHEW TOYS:

A chew toy should be something that a puppy cannot eat or destroy.  Not only will you be spending a lot of money running back and forth to the pet shop to purchase new toys, but the toy the puppy destroys may not be digestible, and this could result in serious medical problems.

Chew toys should be like puzzles.  They should be a challenge for puppies.  If they are, your puppy will stay occupied for longer periods of time.  Watch how puppies work and work at trying to unstuff a KONG; it’s fascinating!  Rotate the chew toys daily so that they don’t get bored with the same toy day after day.

All puppies, regardless of whether they are living in a shelter or your home, need to learn manners and socialize with new friends.  Take advantage of a puppy class and, if you have extra time, take a shelter pup to class.  She will love you for it!

Pia Silvani, CPDT-KA, is Assistant Vice President and Behavior Specialist at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ. Pia lectures internationally as well as with the Petfinder Adoption Option team several times a year, helping to educate rescue groups and shelters around the country. 

Please consider visiting St Huber’ts website at www.sthuberts.org for more continuing education and to learn more about our humane organization.