If you got a puppy around the holidays, now is the perfect time to start training classes. The prime time for socializing is before 16 weeks of age. By 12 weeks, your pup has received most or all of his vaccinations. He is generally physically and mentally mature enough to really benefit from group training classes.
Ideally, the class would be open only to puppies less than 16 weeks of age. However, in some areas, it may be difficult to find this specialized type of class. If no class just for puppies is available, look for a small, well organized introductory level group of mixed ages. There are several good ways to find classes. One is to search the Pet Professional Guild website for a trainer near you. Another is to ask owners of well mannered pets where they went for training. I encourage pet owners to visit the class before attending to be sure you are comfortable with the trainer and the methods.
Group training classes offer the opportunity to socialize your dog to a variety of people, other dogs and interesting situations while being supervised for good manners and behavior. Your pet learns to follow your directions even with the distractions of a class room setting.
Typically, these entry level training classes are 4 to 6 weeks long. This makes a good start to your dogs training and good manners, but I think continued training is important. As your dog matures, physically and socially, their behavior can change. Most pups up to 16 weeks old get along well with each other. Regardless of breed and size, at this early age, puppies like other puppies. But as dogs get older, they can become less accepting of strange or new dogs and people.
Regularly, I see dogs that were social and friendly at 6 months of age. They have basic manners, so training classes fall by the wayside. Then, at about 2 years old, the dog’s behavior becomes problematic. Because they did not continue to practice their social skills, the dogs become less comfortable with the unfamiliar.
So, if you have a puppy, don’t wait. Find a training class that is convenient and humane for your pup. If you have an adolescent or adult dog, it isn’t too late. There is a huge variety of obedience and sport classes available for dogs and humans of all ages and skills. Try some training, it’s fun!
To learn more about canine behavior, dog training and so much more, head to Tampa, Florida on November 11-13, 2015 for the Pet Professional Guild’s inaugural educational convention, the Force-Free Summit – Reaching for a Higher Standard.