What do you want to see in a puppy class?
Starting in January, I'll be doing a couple sessions of puppy kindergarten classes at our agility facility. I've taught pet/basic obed and CGC classes in the past, but the puppy classes are new to me.
The classes are mostly geared toward pet parents (although we'd love them to get hooked on dog sports!), but I wanted to pick the brains of my training-savy friends here on the forum. I have TONS of ideas of what to cover, now I need to narrow it down!
We'll be doing the basics such as name recognition, "watch me", puppy/fun recalls, bite inhibition, trades, sit/down, etc. We also plan to play a few puppy agility games by bringing out mini tunnels and balance boards to build confidence and give the people something fun to do with their pup.
I've got even more ideas but just wanted to see what you thought was most important to getting these folks off on the right start with their pups.
I think it would be easier telling you what I don't want in a puppy class....
No trading dogs.
No playtime requirements.
Funny Kate, I was going to post the same thing!
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This is a little off-topic, but I would like to see the instructor explain what makes a "polite" dog.
About a month ago, I was waiting with my 2 1/2 year old golden girl for her "masters" class. My dog does not like young puppies jumping up in her face, and will not hesitate to tell them off. Despite being told that she was "not puppy friendly" every owner in the puppy 1 class before us, allowed their puppy to come right up into her face. Fortunately, there were no incidents. I understand that puppies are curious, bouncy, active and adorable little creatures, and they do not know any better. It is the owners responsibility to keep their puppy safe, and my responsibility to keep my dog under control and remove her from the situation if necessary.
Please in your first puppy class, emphasize how unsafe it is to allow a puppy to approach an unfamiliar dog without permission. I would hate to see a puppy get hurt or traumatized because of such a preventable occurence. Thank you.
What age are the puppies? Is it up to a year, or younger?
I would want to see just the "big things" covered.
---Come when called
---Don't jump on people
---"drop it" and "leave it" (I don't believe in trading, sorry, but that will get into a long discussion of training philosophy better left for another time)
---Sit/down/stay, especially down as it's used for "discipline" when necessary
---walking on a loose lead, not pulling like a freight train
---watch me/focus on the owner
Also information for the owners:
---how to teach bite inhibition
---help with housetraining
---help with chewing/destructive behavior
---what is and is not property play behavior (manners)
For confidence building, I like to see puppy classes that have different surfaces for the puppies to walk on. They put down, for example, a plastic tarp, a piece of astroturf, a plastic kiddie pool, the agility table on the ground, and many more. Then the puppies take turns with their owners (puppies are on leash) walking around the building, testing each surface.
CH Rosewood Little Giant, VCD2 UDX VER RA MHU SH MXP MJP MFP T2BP TD DJ VCX WCX CCA CGC FFX-OG (born 3-10-2007), also UCH HR UH UUD UJJ URO1 UHIT a.k.a. "Tito" (the Tito Monster)
waiting at the bridge:
My first dog, and my most special girl
Gibson's Golden Girl, CD, CGC, TDI ( 3-20-1997 - 11-22-2013) a.k.a. "Tiny", "Queen B"
and my heart dog
Gibson's Golden Guy, CD, CGC, TDI ( 01-31-1998 - 01-02-2012) a.k.a. "Toby", "HRH"
Thank you for all of the suggestions so far!
I want to assure you all that we will NOT be playing pass the puppy. Focus will be on owner/pup relationship. We will also most likely not be doing any playtime, although I'll have to see what the group is like. Thats why I'm incorporating some puppy agility games, so we are still playing, just hopefully not in a chaotic way
Pups will be under 5 months old when they start the class.
Millie's Mom- thanks for your post. I can empathize, as my current competition dog is not puppy friendly and has been known to be a bit reactive. So, with that in mind, we will be talking about doggie manners
hotel4dogs- thank you for the list! I will incorporate different surfaces into some of our games. I too don't use "trades", I've just found them easier to teach to some john q people with such young pups. We'll see what the group is like.
Teaching the owners how to restrain their pups for vet exams, teeth cleaning, ear cleaning, grooming, etc. Having a calm puppy that can be touched anywhere on it's body.
I also think that go to your mat is a valuable tool to teach owners. On the subject of leave it I think it is great to teach a default leave it and a default focus/watch me.
A Dog Is A Commitment For The Life Of The Dog
I would also like to add that I hate, hate, hate boring classes. As in, pups and people are given an exercise to practice as the instructor walks around giving pointers .. this can lead to other owners needing to keep their pups occupied for 20 minutes on 1 exercise - way too long for a pup pup! I will get up and take my pup outside and/or play tug etc with my pup, thereby earning scowls from other owners LOL Actually, I usually do not return to these classes .... other classes keep things moving and if a competition class, will usually encourage other dogs playing with their people etc so the pups learn to work around distraction.
Set up things like baby planks, small tunnels etc so everyone can stay occupied and not sitting on the side lines while you are helping people. Show multiple tricks that can keep people busy, spins, left, right, through the legs.
Maybe crate games and Control Unleashed elements to not only keep everyone occupied but give the owners the beginnings of impulse control at home and tools that will be in place when the adolescent stage hits.
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You add obedience to the game,
not the game to obedience -- Shade Whitesel
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Focus on the process -- Denise Fenzi
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Im new at this puppy stuff....I take Neeko & Molson to puppy class next Tuesday, for their first class, class was canceled last nite, due to snow!!! Im excited to see what we will be doing...