“But I’ve potty trained Bozo, taught him to ’sit’, ’down’, ‘come’ AND I’ve had people over to meet him. Now you want me to take him to class?”
That’s right. I do.
If indeed, you have done all those things, good on ya!
All that, though, has been done in isolation because Bozo’s immunization protection was insufficient to expose him to other dogs and public places. Now that he’s three months old, his immunity is building nicely and unless he’s one of the slower to mature large breeds, adolescence with all its uncertainties and insecurities, is fast approaching.
With other things besides Bozo’s immunity to consider, puppy class beginning at 3½ to 4 months is a reasonably safe, clean environment to now play catch-up on his dog-to-dog socialization. Granted, a people-loving, dog-fearful dog is easier to live with than the reverse, but why not have a totally well socialized puppy and dog who meets all people, dogs and situations calmly and with enthusiasm and confidence.
Puppy class added to the relationship you’ve developed and the training you’ve already done, will help greatly with that.
Even more important, puppies teach other puppies more about bite inhibition in one hour than we ever can. Needle sharp teeth and sensitive skin create a zero tolerance attitude towards a too-hard bite. The bitten pup will yelp his displeasure, mid play and it’s game over for a few seconds. Do watch. Their timing is exquisite.
How will you find the kind of puppy class you’re looking for? And what are you looking for?
In this technological age, Google “puppy classes” in your area. Personally, I’d be looking for an online video clip of a class. Failing that, if you find several puppy classes online or by word of mouth in your community, I’d start by making phone calls.
Among the first words I’d want to hear in answer to my query about methods used would be: lure/reward training, off-leash, and playtime. If there is no mention of choke collars, metal collars and/or physical correction, ASK. Those methods are a throwback to the Dark Age of dog training. Fortunately, those methods are not so prevalent today, but sadly, they do still exist.
If there are several classes that sound promising, ask if you can come and observe before deciding. Leave Bozo at home.
I like to see a family-oriented class where all family members participate; taking turns working with the puppy. Off leash playtime with lots of brief interruptions for instructions and settling are other things to look for.
This 50-minute to 1 hour class ought not to be a lecture, in my opinion. In addition to a puppy’s short attention span, the human on the end of the leash will have great difficulty staying focused or interested in a stream of instructions and information from the instructor.
Above all, it ought to be FUN… fun for the puppies, fun for the owners, and fun for the instructor, too.
While this step of puppy socialization is serious and important, there’s no reason at all not to have a good time. We don’t learn any better or faster by being earnest and serious about it – quite the contrary.
Talk to other puppy owners, keep one eye on Bozo at all times, be attentive to the instructor, observe the puppy interaction and above all…