Without question one of the best parts of my job is helping Steve to run puppy school and private training for puppy owners.
Most trainers will tell you they love puppy school training, why? The answer is simple – because it is so exciting to help new owners start off on the right track with a puppy that is a ‘clean slate’.
One of the services Steve offers to breeders is a dedicated education course for puppies and their new owners for the whole litter, or those that live local enough to attend the weekly classes (minimum 4 pups usually). This is really a great option as Steve works with the breeder to set course curriculum based on what breed puppies they have and what goals are in mind.
Recently we ran a 6 week puppy class for a Rottweiler breeder who is also one of our clients, we had a couple of people ask why we would run private classes for breeders. Surely it can be better to have puppies in a mixed breed class?
We find there are many advantages to running private puppy class for breeders. Some of these are: –
- The goal of the class is to teach owners how to raise a puppy, not teach the puppy what other puppies look like, that can be done in the homework the attendees get.
- Socialisation is an ongoing, 18 month minimum journey, we aren’t trying to say it’s finished in our classes, we are teaching you how to do it.
- Some owners can be a little laid back when it comes to puppy training, when they turn up week 2 and their puppy is the least advanced and all the other puppies are brothers and sisters of the same litter, this can be a great motivator.
- You might have a puppy from a working breed that may growl or bark at certain things in puppy class, we know when that growl or bark is normal. Some think it is when it’s not and some think it is a problem when it’s not. We have been brought many German Shepherd, Rottweiler and Doberman pups that were sent for Early Intervention for aggression, diagnosed by the puppy school trainer. These pups were absolutely normal, just different to the Cavaliers and Silky Terriers they had in the class.
- Our class is aimed at owner training and puppy development, not “social – fun” class that leaves pups and their owners ill advised.
- Puppies that attend the class are offered future training at a discounted rate, so the same message can continue to the highest training levels.
Breeders know their puppy buyers are starting off on the right step from day one, with great foundation training designed specifically to maximise the genetics. This is a way to ensure a great start with new owners which can be a tricky stage to get right.
We speak to the breeder before puppy class starts to ensure we design a course that is suitable for the type of dogs they breed, and for the needs of their puppy buyers. We work with a lot of working dog breeders who sell pups to competition homes, when they book a private puppy course with us it means that we can focus the course on helping owners raise puppies that will be great competitive dogs.
If most of their puppy buyers want well rounded, obedient pet dogs, we focus the course on training critical foundation exercises like reliable recall, loose leash walking and how to greet people and other dogs.
When we have a litter of the same pups in one class, it means there is less variation in the temperament of each of the puppies. We generally find that in these classes, pups have similar strengths and weaknesses which allows us to run a more personalised and in depth class.
When you have a class with lots of different puppies, with different temperaments and with owners who have many different goals, trainers have to aim course content to help the less driven pups or pups with weaker nerves succeed. This means that pups that advance faster are often left unchallenged which means they have less chance of maximizing on their genetic potential.
We have a number of adult dogs of different breeds that we bring out in puppy classes to help teach owners how to get their puppy to meet and greet other dogs appropriately, so pups get controlled exposure to different breeds.
Too often puppy classes are run as a ‘free for all’ where pups are allowed to spend the entire class, or most of it, running around and playing with other puppies. You can read our article on “Puppy Schools, the good, the bad and the ugly” here to understand why we find this model of puppy school something to avoid.
Unfortunately we see a lot of problems in adult dogs that without a doubt could have been avoided with better and more breed appropriate training when they were puppies. A lot of places that run puppy schools are tailored to lower drive, pet breeds and many instructors do not have experience handling high drive working dogs. Some mislabel normal working pup behaviour, or don’t know how to deal with it.
Steve is in behaviour and training consults all week, every week – business is good. Some of his clients have been referred by the breeder, the breeder sold this person a puppy, things went wrong, they send them to Steve to help modify this behaviour. We encourage you as a breeder to “think ahead”. Lets break this cycle of “breed a puppy, sell a puppy and the new owners messes it up“. Get them into the right class, before the problems set in.
If you are breeding dogs, selling puppies and having these problems even occasionally, we have to stop just blaming the new owners, we need to be proactive and help them before they have a dog with psychological damage caused by doing things they thought were OK.
Few people knowingly do the wrong thing by their puppy, but few do it right.
Education = Pro Active
No education = Reactive
Whilst we do cover how to teach the sit and down positions, the major focus is on how to raise a behaviourally sound puppy that is absent behaviour problems, phobias and fears. Learn management, communication, reward systems, hazard avoidance, health and well being and much more…
If your a breeder in NSW or are planing to put puppies in homes in NSW, you should email us to find out how we can help, this generally costs breeders nothing and the benefits are huge.
* Thanks to Jen Martin Photography for ongoing support and awesome photos
* Thanks to ZanKira Rottweilers for allowing us to use these photos