Our puppy classes are structured around three themes:
  • Learning social skills
  • Learning skills needed for cohabitation with humans
  • Physical and mental development

Social Skills

 Learning social skills is probably the most vital part of puppy education at a very early age. This is why we recommend that puppies join us as early as eight weeks old. During this phase of their lives, puppies learn how to get along with other dogs, humans, and other animals.

Our classes are structured to allow on- and off-lead free association to allow puppies to meet and greet, play, and experiment with various social interactions amongst their peers. The supervised class environment ensures that everyone is safe and too unruly behaviour is managed.

We also teach puppies about meeting friendly strangers and get them used to being handled, for example during a vet examination.

Skills needed for cohabitation with humans

 These are the skills we generally think of as dog training: Sit, down, stay, etcetera. We use fun and rewarding training methods to train these skills. The aim here is to show you how to train your puppy so you can take him home and practise every day for a few minutes. A small puppy's attention span is very short. Consequently we shift focus from one theme to the other regularly to keep them interested.

We also help you with skills we cannot teach in a class situation, such as house training and eating problems. We also try to answer all the questions you may have, and if we can't, we'll refer you or find out.

pixlr treat search 82801Physical and mental development

This aspect of training deals with the development of a confident, strong, and agile puppy. We expose your puppy to numerous challenges which are designed to encourage him to use his senses end get him to think and solve problems independently. Many of these involve strange shapes, such as cones and hoops which the have to navigate. We also get them to find treats by using their eyesight, memory and noses.

Our extensive range of agility equipment not only challenges puppies mentally, but it is also excellent for physical development: balance, coordination, muscle tone.
 
Owners and puppies who have gone through this puppy training programme have a head start on a well balanced, happy relationship. Once you and your puppy have mastered the skills of this class, we recommend that you move on to the Intermediate puppy class to cement and internalise these skills, and learn some new ones as well.yj1 h4 92654
What can you expect from Puppy Training?

What goes before

Most puppies learn most quickly up to the age of about 16 weeks. There is some variation from this norm in some breeds, where you may find mostly slow starters, especially among the large breeds. Don’t worry if your puppy turns out to be one of those; it will catch up in time. The ideal age to start training your puppy is thus as soon as you take him or her home.

Some breeders like to keep their puppies up to as long as 11 or 12 weeks. This is a great practice, especially with large breed dogs, since it gives the puppy a lot of extra time to learn from it mother. There is really no alternative for a mother’s guidance. Save for individual personality traits, you may expect such a puppy to be more self assured and ready to face the world than it would have been at six or eight weeks. Since the large breed dogs take a lot longer to mature than smaller dogs, you have a little longer to imprint the basics (and “unfortunately” a little longer puberty as well).

Puppy Training

Puppy Training is initially about two things: “learning manners” and “learning manners”. The first set refers to what we as humans require of a dog to fit in with our day to day lives. The second set is what is required of a dog to get along with other dogs. At times these overlap a bit, and we have to make use of dog methods to attain human goals – a good example of this is teaching a puppy about biting. We teach you how to deal with it. Added to these two aspects, we introduce the puppies to a variety of agility exercises. These are really important for their physical development and are also great confidence builders.

So what are “human manners” about? Well, it’s quite simple: learning how to sit, lie down, stay when and where instructed, walk on a leash, come when called, and a few others. Of course we don’t teach your puppy: we teach you how to teach your puppy. We provide an environment, and a challenging one at that, in which to practice and start putting context to the skills your puppy is acquiring. When you struggle with something, we are there to assist and guide. We help you integrate your puppy into human society by exposing it to a variety of unfamiliar objects and circumstances. The puppy learns to deal with strange environments with your help and under our guidance. Beyond the basic skills, we deal with the many challenges new puppy owners face during the first few months with their new family member.

Learning “dog manners” is what we refer to as socialisation. It’s all about meeting and greeting, what happens if you come on too strongly, how to behave towards your seniors, and of course play. This is stuff we cannot teach; we can only provide a safe and supervised environment for the puppies to learn from each other. One of the most important aspects of socialisation (and this is one that overlaps with our needs as already mentioned) is learning “bite inhibition” or “pressure sensitivity”. Without play and the play fighting (the part we so like to break up) they don’t learn when enough is enough. Our classes consist of on- and off-leash portions to encourage this interaction. In addition, we encourage puppies to mingle freely with the other dogs before and after classes in order to expose them to older dogs as well. We also encourage puppies to stay in touch with their senses, and especially the sense of smell.

Your role in all this is, in essence, to take the techniques home with you, practice them, and give them meaning. This is something we cannot teach, but only give guidelines on. To illustrate: Somewhere in the coming months your teenage dog will start questioning your motives and it will occur to him or her that sitting when commanded is an utter waste of time. If you’re lucky and your dog is highly food motivated, you’ll get a “no treat, no do” attitude. To get past this, and to make the whole training exercise useful to start with, it is important to attach relevance, or meaning and value, to the skills you and your dog are learning. It’s not complicated; it simply requires some principle decisions on your and your family’s part, and then consistent execution. A good example for an excitable dog might be “if you want to greet us when we come home, you will have to sit”. Then you start implementing: you get home and give the command “Phoebe, Sit!” If Phoebe sits, you greet her, if not, you simply ignore her and all her antics. She’ll pretty soon realise that there is real value in obeying the command.

Moving up

Once your puppy has mastered all, or most of, the basics, it has probably outgrown its class and it will be time to move on to the next class. This class focuses on cementing and fortifying what has already been learnt. Not only will your puppy start challenging you more, but the challenges posed in the classes will increase to test and challenge the puppy’s skills. It is likely that if your puppy will develop challenging behaviour later on, it will start manifesting in this pre-pubescent phase of your puppy’s upbringing. This is the ideal time to identify and address potential challenges.

The way forward

When you and your dog are comfortable with all the tasks and challenges this class presents, it is decision time. You and your dog have reached the basic obedience skills that would be required of a good canine citizen. Your dog is of course still in his or her “teens” and will be quite a challenge, but with persistent and consistent exercise of all the skills you and your dog have learnt, you will eventually prevail. Mastering canine good citizenship takes continued and persistent practice, which you may attempt on your own, or you may move on to more formal and advanced obedience classes at this point, which we strongly advise. You may also start pursuing other dog sports such as agility, tracking, or working trials. These are really great if you and your dog enjoy spending time together engaging in a structured, and perhaps competitive, activity.
 
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