Puppy Class and Puppy Party
Of course we all want to socialise our Puppy as good as possible as we want him to become a fantastic family dog.
But if we want to socialise our Puppy, then we first have to know how our Puppy behaves, what his naturally instincts are telling him and we have to clear what “socialisation” means.
I think we all agree that “socialisation” means, that our dog is well behaved when we take him out. That he is friendly and polite to other humans and dogs. That he knows how to communicate and that he knows how to be calm and quiet if needed. If a dog does all of this, then he is well “socialised” as he knows how to behave in our sociality.
So what does the naturally instincts are telling a Puppy?
This question is a bit harder to answer as the answer depends on the Puppy´s age.
7weeks – 8 weeks: The Puppy is very outgoing, noisy and wants to explore everything. He is open to new things. He will memories a positive/neutral situation as normal/good and any bad/negative situations will be memorised as such – it only takes one happening to memorise it as bad or good so make sure it´s always a neutral/good situation! He is trying to bond to his family and is eagerly searching for a “safety zone”.
8weeks to 10weeks: Same as above, but he is going through his second “fear stage” so more care must be taking to avoid negative situation - remember, he will memories EVERYTHING. The Puppy should have a “safety zone” by now! This “Fear Stage” can be as short as a few hours or go on for a few days and some Puppies do not even show it – that’s all normal x
10weeks to 16weeks: The Puppy is becoming brave again, he is able to go through bad (like a load motor bike, a dog barking at him from the distance, running children if he is not used to them already) situation without panic if he has a “safety zone”. He should have learned everything necessary by now which he needs for his future life.
16 weeks: Your so well behaved Puppy will start to test you again. This is the time where it will show whether you have been successful in raising your Puppy or if you failed!
So how does a Puppy behave: A Puppy growls, cries, does not bark at other dogs, hides, runs away, goes to his “safety zone”, avoids bad and dangerous situation, will avoid contact to other dogs, stays close with his owner when not at home – all this are naturally behaviours which are very important for us while we train our Puppy as they tell us how our Puppy feels! We have to adjust our training to the mentally development of OUR PUPPY and not to how others behave!
If you have your new Puppy and you are planning on taking him to Puppy Class or Puppy Party, then there is one, well maybe 2 , very important things which must be done BEFORE you start to attend the Puppy Class or Puppy Party and no I am not talking about finishing the Vaccinations, I am talking about creating his SAFETY ZONE and lead training! In fact, you would have to create the safety zone before you start any training in the public. What do you think would happen, if the 2 of you end up in a bad situation and your sweet Puppy panics!? How are you gone calm him down? How will you show him that he is safe? How will you be able to get him through this situation on a positive note? Every Puppy and dog needs a Safety Zone as you never know what´s gone happen on your daily walk.
So what is a safety zone? That’s easy, it’s a ZONE where your Puppy or Dogs is and feels SAFE. It’s a ZONE where he can go to if he ends up in a situation which he is not comfortable in, which might be dangerous or where he can just go to tell you, that he is not up for it right now. This SAFEZY ZONE will also teach your Puppy, that you are in charge of everything. You will guide him. You will protect him and he is not in charge of deciding whether it´s time to fight or run!
This SAFETY ZONE is YOU!!!!
I find the easiest way of showing this to a Puppy is, to create a strong bond at home and then, once you start to walk your Puppy, to not let anyone interact with your little Puppy when you go out and about and tell other walkers to not let their Dog come close! But be respectful too and if needed wait by the side and let others go by!
This is some sort of “self-training” as it happens automatically. You do not need to do a lot as the Puppy will work it out on his own and it will be such a strong memory, that it will last for the rest of his life! If your Puppy is not fully vaccinated or he is still at the beginning of the training, then you can start taking him out and you just carry him so he can see the big world. Let him watch the traffic, let him visit the busy town, take him to the shops where you just watch everyone go by. BUT no one is to touch the Puppy and other dogs have to stay at a distance. If people and other dog owners do not appreciate your Puppy Training, then just take your Puppy and leave the situation but keep your Puppy SAFE which means HANDS OFF! But my experiences have shown me, that if I explain, that my Puppy is in training, then they almost always respect this. They might stay and ask more questions so we have a small conversation but they do not touch my Puppy (And if we do meet one who does not care, then they get told off by me! I get so very angry with this silly people. We are not a petting Zoo) I will often sit somewhere with my Puppy to just let them see all this new situations and I will reward with attention, cuddles and treats any wanted behaviour.
… Why do I not allow people to touch my Puppy? …
Well, that’s easy.
1. The Puppy has to learn so much and if I avoid contact to other People and Dogs, then I will avoid negative situation but I also avoid that my Puppy will catch something from another dog.
2. I do not know the other dog so what do you thing how the Puppy will feel if the other dog suddenly bark at him! – Better safe, than sorry.
3. Dogs who are paying respect to each other are not aggressive or dangerous = Dogs who are paying respect to each other will ignore each other = people who are ignoring my Puppy are not aggressive or dangerous = my Puppy will learn to be respectful to other people by ignoring them = my Puppy will be well socialised as we are giving others their space and are respecting them as much as they did it to us
So you and your Puppy have created a Safety Zone, that’s great. You are now one step closer to being able to attend Puppy Class or Puppy Party.
But there is one more thing which must be done before the Puppy is ready and this point is also a key for creating a safety zone – it goes hand in hand. So maybe you Puppy and you have done this already and if not, then this might help you to get along.
Your Puppy must be able to walk on the lead. And I am not talking about a Puppy pulling on a string which is connected to his neck! No, I mean that he is behaving nicely on the lead. That he stays close by you, follows you and is paying attention to you! You can´t visit Puppy Class or Puppy Party if you Puppy is not lead trained!!! PLEASE do not do this!!!
Your Puppy has to walk gently on a loos lead! A head-collar, a gently harness or any of this silly equipment which is offered on the market to stop a dog from pulling on the lead is a NO-GO for a Puppy! All this things are just proving that you failed in training your Puppy! Instead of investing money on a new harness you should invest MORE TIME in training your dog and go back to basics!
The funny thing is, that people keep making the same mistakes. Even dog trainers are giving the same advice which is almost always leading to a dog who will pull on the lead! (Maybe the dog trainers are doing this so they know that the new client is just being created?) I find it sooo very sad to see young Puppies being walked in the public and are pulling so much on the lead, that they can hardly breath L And if I do speak to the owner and tell them, that they need to work on the lead training as it´s no good for their dog, they almost always smile at me and tell me “It´s just a Puppy! He will learn!” … yeeees, alright!
Ok, so let´s get back to the beginning and see what we can do to make the lead training as easy as possible and do it in a way so that our Puppy is able to understand what we want him to do.
I am very sure that we all want our Puppy to be calm and easy-going on the lead. And of course we want him to stay with us and he should follow us. We are LEADING HIM and we go TOGETHER. If we want to show our Puppy, that we want him to stay calm, then we have to stay calm too. If we put our energy into the situation, then the Puppy will do the same. I am also very sure, that we all are using our garden to play with the Puppy and to have fun with him J and ideally the Puppy had a bit of gently training so that he knows a treat marks a wanted behaviour.
This is what we need to start the lead training: Collar, 2m long training lead, treats, good weather (no rain and not too hot or cold as it can be very time consuming), enough time and a Puppy who is in a good mood.
The Puppy should be a bit hungry so no training after he had food and it is good if the Puppy is not to active for his first lesson so get him a bit exercised before you star. If you know your Puppy well enough, then get him to the point where he would easily accept it, that if he wants to play more, that he has to be quiet and entertain himself.
Your Puppy should also be past his second fair stage! (That’s why I never do this before the Puppy is 10 weeks old. If you are on a busy road, then make sure that your Puppy got used to the traffic already – you can do this by just sit with him by the side of the road and watch the traffic J
So, let´s get started:
1. Get the treats.
2. Put the collar on and check that it is tight enough so that the Puppy can´t slip out of it! Attach lead to collar.
3. Pick up the Puppy and take him out to a place where he has not been before for PLAYING!
4. Put the Puppy on the floor, praise him, give a treat, hold good on to the lead and walk 2 or 3 steps away from the Puppy.
5. … now wait
6. Praise the Puppy for eye contact. Increase the praising for walking in your direction. Pet him and give a treat once he is with you. Then start from the beginning by moving away from him. Keep praising for eye contact, moving towards you or following you. Reward any wanted behaviour.
7. Should the Puppy scream, cry, jump, pull or run in the other direction, than do not do anything! No talking, no pulling, no treat - JUST NOTHING!!!!!Praise as soon as he stops and looks at you. This will look and sound terrible but it actually isn´t too bad for the Puppy and he will very fast understand how this GAME works, so no need to feel too sorry for your Puppy. But it might be good to inform your neighbours so that they don´t wonder what the hell is going on! And! Not all Puppies behave like that. So far I only had 2 Puppies who were not happy about my “game” but both got over it and went on to be great!
8. And this is why you have to keep an eye on the weather and why you need enough time! You must not stop this training until your Puppy gives up!!! The only good and positive behaviour is, to stay in touch with you and to stay TOGETHER. No other situation will bring a reward for the Puppy. I have invested lots of time by sitting on the ground and hoping for my Puppy to finally come to me. It can be sooooo embarrassing but it is well worth it!
9. The Puppy is on the 2m training lead and he can use the full radius but he only gets a treat when he is with you! Make sure he is safe from the road or any other dangerous situations/obstacles.
10. It can take quite some time before your Puppy will walk with you and you just have to wait until that time comes. But stop the training after only a few minutes once your Puppy walks with you, is keeping eye contact and his happy to come to you. Pick your Puppy up and go back home You might find out that you will be sitting and waiting for your Puppy for easily 30 minutes but then all is done within 3 to 5 minutes!
11. Do this training once a day 2 days in a row, then have a break on day 3 and train again on day 4 – you Puppy should be lead trained by now. He should have understand that he has to stay close with you, following you, stay in touch with you and that he is safe at your side :-D
From now on you are able to take your Puppy out and about and let him walk on the lead (if his vaccinations are all done). But there are just a few more things which you must keep in mind to help increasing the good behaviour of your dog when he is on the lead. You really have to keep this in mind as it could destroy the lead training!
1. Your Puppy is still young and he might not be in a good mood when you want him to be, so be prepared to CARRY your Puppy! Do not force him to walk if he is not comfortable in that situation, at that time or day.
2. We do not want the Puppy to pull on the lead, so we must not pull the lead either! Stay in touch with you Puppy and try to lead him by commands and hand signals. He will very fast work out what the different signals mean.
3. Give time! GIVE TIME! And give MORE TIME! Never ever rush when your Puppy is coming along! If he stops because he saw something, then STOP and give him this moment. He will show you whether he is nervous about it or whether he is interested in it so you can help him through this situation. You can of course stop your Puppy to walk to it as he should stay close with you, but it is a big help for him to learn and understand if you just give him a bit of time. Even if he walked passed that letter box each day for the last week and then suddenly thinks it’s a strange obstacle ;-)
4. If your Puppy is positive interested in something, then just give him a few seconds to look at it from the distance, but then get his attention back and show him that you carry on your walk. Praise and give a treat when he comes along. Do not go to that obstacle or whatever it is what caught your Puppy´s attention.If we would go to it, then the Puppy would learn that if he is interested in it that he will get it, which means, that if he finds something interesting during his off-lead walks then he will almost certainly run to it.
5. But it´s different if he shows you, that he is scared or nervous about something. Ideal he would have come back to you without the need of calling for him. Sometimes the Puppy get so nervous that they can´t take their eyes off the obstacle so they forget to come – just help him with a gentle call, but do not praise him too much as we do not want to worry him more. Then lead him to the obstacle and “show it to him”. You can tap your finger on it, pick it up, put some teats on it… it just depend on what it is And try to encourage your Puppy to investigate it together with you. Carry on with your walk once your Puppy is all happy again. This little extra training will teach your Puppy, that you are his “safety zone” and that he can rely on you x
A big thank you to those of you who have read the text up to this point xx I know it was quite a lot of information and most of you might have been through all of this, but I still wanted to give the information as I find it very important and Puppy Families have to understand, that they can´t just take their Puppy to Puppy Classes or Puppy Parties without any training as the Puppy must have a bond to his owner before he is ready for the next step and the owner must be able to understand the Puppy´s body language so that they know how he feels! A “Safety Zone” and walking on the lead is a MUST HAVE before attending ANY Puppy classes.
If you search the internet for Puppy classes, then you will find out, that there are more than enough out there. But how do we find a good Puppy class? What is a good Puppy class and how do I recognize a good trainer? And how good are Puppy Partis?
First of all - there is no need to rush to go to classes! Let´s say you get your Puppy from the breeder at 8 weeks of age. The Puppy has been raised with lots of care, within the K9 family and maybe he already had some dog contacts so he is well prepared for the new big world. So please take a few weeks to bond to your Puppy, to start some gently Puppy training and maybe even the training which I described above. If your family or friends own a dog and you know that he is healthy and friendly, then you can use this dogs as the first positive dog contacts.
So why are you going to a Puppy Class?
You are going to Puppy classes to train your Puppy how to behave towards other dogs, to get some help in further training and to get him socialised with other people.
So what do you need to achieve this?
You need a few Puppies for the fun and supervised Puppy-Play-Time. You need ADULT dogs to train the Puppy a good communication with other dogs. You need a few other people. You need small classes so that it does not get overwhelming for the Puppy and to make sure that the trainer is able to take care of ALL THE PUPPIES. (Bigger classes = more money – just because it´s good for the trainer does not automatically mean, that it is any good for us!)
So what would a good Puppy Class look like?
No more than 6 K9´s in the group – maybe 3 (4) Puppies and 3 (2) adult dogs. The dogs can be the trainers own dogs or dogs from the Dog classes where the trainer knows that they are very respectful, calm and well trained. One of the 3 (2) adult dogs will always take part in that Puppy class but the other 2 (1) will be exchanged every week so that the Puppies get used to different dogs. Each dog has at least 1 handler. Well behaved Children are always welcome!
If the Puppy class is nowhere near as explained above, then please try to find a better trainer!
When you found a class which has a similarly set-up like above, then take the time and look further into it:
1. Do not book a class which runs over 6 to 8 weeks – you Puppy might need longer and the trainer should not expect that everything is sorted within a given time!
2. Make sure that the Puppies are of a mixed breed, sex, age and size.
3. Make sure that there is no Puppy older than 16 weeks. Their behaviour has already changed and such Puppies should not be included in the Puppy Classes! Only exception is that this Puppy is well trained and is taking part in the class as one of the adult K9!
4. Find a Dog School who runs more Puppy classes during the week and that you are able to come 2 or 3 times a week (only if you want) and so that you are able to train with other Puppies/dogs
5. Make sure that the site where the class takes place is safe and secure! No Puppy/Dog should be able to escape BUT no Puppy should be able to get cornered!It should be a clear site without any obstacles standing around. Agility equipment could be set up at a later time for gently fun training
6. Should the trainer provide chairs for the dog owners, than WALK AWAY!!!! You are at a Puppy Class! You are not supposed to sit around on a chair! You are supposed to interact and work with your PUPPY. And, we do not want any obstacles standing around!
7. The Trainer should give some time-out for the Puppies. This is the time where questions can easily be asked and answered and it should be at the beginning and towards the end of the class – this means the class stats calm and relaxed and it will end calm and relaxed which will help to calm the Puppy And it’s a good way for the Puppies to meet each other as they are all in their SAFETY ZONE.
8. The Puppy owners would ideally sit on the floor with the Puppy. This helps to train the Puppy to just relax and maybe even fall asleep as he feels safe. The trainer therefore might provide mats to sit on or at least he will tell you about this “calm training” so that you can bring a blanket along.
Well, THAT’S what a good Puppy Class looks like. And I am very sure, that if you find a class like this, that the way the training will take place will be just fine. A Dog Trainer who has set up a Puppy Class to the requirement of the Puppy AND not to the requirements of the bank account or Puppy Family will surly know how to train and socialise the Puppy.
A “Puppy Party” is normally a group of Puppy Owners who come together so that their Puppies can JUST PLAY! Please avoid such groups as they lead to more problems than that they gone help you or your Puppy. If you put a larger amount of Puppies together in one room so that they can JUST PLAY, then who will teach them the rules of the GAME? Puppies are not able to train each other! They NEED an ADULT DOG to learn the dog language and to learn how to communicate.
Best of luck to all of you and have fun