When do I train my puppy? What age should I start? What are the risks? What are the upsides and downsides? A million other questions!
The truth is that by asking these questions it means that you want a great mate, friend, fur baby, etc etc. Great start.
Now the problem is “what do I want to know”? Will I use the information and how do I choose what is really the right thing to do? I will endeavor to explain as much as possible in a short article answering as many questions as I can. Often, this leads to a lot of other questions which, in time, and with more research you will find your answers.
I have written an article on selecting or choosing a puppy so have a look for it in the Bonnies Dog Obedience and Puppy School Facebook page. Now you have your puppy or in the throws of getting your puppy from either a Registered Breeder, the RSPCA shelter or other location of your choosing. Most of these, if not all of them, can offer you a lot of advice on your puppy. Things like food intake, bedding and grooming, an understanding of immunisation and timings and a whole lot more will be given to you if you ask them. This helps setting up the home and the puppies environment to suit them AND your family. This helps set the puppy up for a safe area and one which suits the family and its needs too.
You have already started puppy training!
In many ways puppy training starts the second you start to set up the house and get everything ready to go. Puppy Training is the delivery of gained knowledge from a human to a canine. The more knowledge and understanding the better the training will be for the dog, your family and you.
So now you have the information you just need to use it - all the time. Consistency rules.
When you go to pick up your puppy your bonding and therefore training begins. Use soft hands with gentle pats and calm words. Calming our puppy instills a sense of relaxation or lack of stress in our new friend. I know kids are very excited to get their new puppy and will make a big fuss with lots of smiles and loud applause and big hugs and speak at a mile a minute. Their LOVING it. Your kids anyway. Try and inform your kids about meeting the puppy and being very relaxed. This engagement teaches both the dog and the kids to be calm. Have a lot of fun at the appropriate times. Picking up the puppy is exciting but needs to be very relaxed too.
Get the kids and the family just to talk to the puppy and pat - gently. As the puppy starts to mature a little more then play can become more playful and great fun. The puppy can then run around the yard with the kids etc etc but that is a whole lot more of a story.
My next door neighbour, colleague or other person has told me not to take my dog out until it has had all of his inoculations and vaccinations. How can I go to puppy school when the puppy has not had all of his vaccinations?
At Bonnies we always answer this question in the following way. We believe that the risk - reward certainly leans toward the adage of “Train young - Train as young as possible - from the age of 8 - 10 weeks is generally a great time to start.”
The risk is that the puppy is NOT yet fully immunised and may get Parvo or other disease which may affect them. YES this is to be considered. Where you choose to go to is important. Who you choose to go to is important. If you go to a professional puppy trainer or school then they should absolutely answer this question to your satisfaction. What are the risks if I come to your school? There is always a risk even though it may be a very small one. At Bonnies we have not had an issue with a disease that has been picked up at our puppy school, yet you should always know that there is still a risk. Yes you should minimise he risks as much as possible. For example don’t take them to public parks, off leash dog parks and other areas where your puppy may pick up a disease until it is fully vaccinated.
With our new puppy classes we are recommending full vaccinations as we are not currently training in our normal grounds. If unsure ask your vet. We have heard that Parvo is impacting parts of NSW so please be aware. An absolute minimum is 2 vaccinations.
To ensure you can still get great info and a positive start with your puppy we do one on one sessions for puppies that have had only one injection.
The reward is that by coming to puppy school you can not only gain a few weeks training but for the puppy it is ‘half their life”. Bad habits are learned just as easily as good habits. Oh, and that is true of the puppy too. The period from week 8 or coming home week, to about 16 weeks is one of the most important periods of their learning. Val Bonney calls them imprint periods. Setting them up for total integration into the home and bonding with the whole family. Puppy school is half about the puppy and half about the family and their understanding of the new addition to the home. A great puppy school is NOT about play and product. It’s about bringing the family and the puppy to a very good understanding of each other. Imagine the kids, and partners all speaking to the dog the same way. All happy to walk their dog and have the puppy as a part of their life and at the appropriate time walking the dog. All of the family being able to give appropriate commands and correcting the dog with calmness and love is in itself enough to take this small risk.
Start your puppies life with understanding as soon as you can but do choose very carefully where you go.
Don’t be afraid to ask your Puppy Trainer heaps of questions so you can choose to go to the best possible place you can. Many many people say they are puppy trainers but when you ask them a few questions about what they teach and how they can sometimes come up short on their knowledge. As I said earlier it’s NOT about Play and Product its about learning and the life of your best friend.