Almost every dog training facility has a puppy socialization class. But not all of these classes are created equal. Not all classes achieve what you want them to. The problem is that everyone has a basic idea of what they want to accomplish, but the average dog owner does not know how to go from point A to point B.
Objectives of Puppy Socialization
- To prevent aggressive or nervous behavior problems
- To build confidence in your puppy so it will heel well
- To build a team relationship with a puppy so that you will maintain control in any situation
- To shape the foundation behaviors for the commands an urban dog needs to be a good neighbor
These objectives may seem like common sense, but sometimes puppy classes go wrong. Here are a few ways that you can protect your puppy.
- Do not be afraid to say no if your puppy is not having fun
- Do not be afraid to walk away if your puppy starts to show calming signals or appear afraid
- Stay away from classes with too many puppies
- Watch the trainer. Is he/she offering advice and corrective measures when puppies confront each other, or act nervous? Or, are they making excuses and brushing off the behavior? Or, do they appear to favor one breed/type of dog and ignore others.
- Only register with a puppy course that offers a guarantee after the first night.
- Make sure that the trainer demands all shots are done. Ask them if they clean and how often. If they only use bleach and soap then walk away. Vilkor, Blue Dawn Dish soap, and medical level soaps are commonly used by the top kennels, veterinary offices, and dog training or boarding facilities to clean their establishments.
- Do not be impressed by ribbons, certificates, or organization memberships. These are fairly easy to obtain and have nothing to do with a person’s ability to manage puppy socialization classes. Instead ask what training they have had in canine behavior, puppy development, and reactive dog therapy.
How Puppy Classes Go Wrong
There are many ways a puppy socialization class can go wrong. It is impossible to tell without visiting the class, but here are some of the ways that you can protect your puppy.
- The trainer is only interested in money so they register more puppies than they can watch
- The trainer is not familiar with puppy development and behavior
- The age span or size span between puppies is too broad for the trainer to manage
- There is not enough stimulation, different toys, or ‘puzzles’ for the puppy to solve
- The trainer is using the puppy classes only as a ‘hook’ to sign up people for obedience classes
What is Puppy Socialization?
Good puppy socialization is accomplished by creating a safe environment where a puppy can play, solve puzzles and mazes, explore new textures or sounds or experiences “without any fear.” When fear is added then the puppy is going to develop aggression or fear problems.
The puppy will also be more difficult to train. If you want a good urban companion dog, then take the time give your puppy a great start.
Other articles in this series:
- Behavior then obedience: Why I don’t Socialize Pt 2
- Puppy Socialization – You Can Do More Harm Than Good
- What is Puppy Socialization Pt 1
- What is Puppy Socialization
- Raising a Working Breed Puppy – Frustration Tolerance vs Impulse Control