Puppy Training In Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Part 1
To Take a Puppy Class or Not Take a Puppy Class…That Is The Question…Part 1
Karen Abell B.S.
I have trained dogs for many, many years and it never seems to amaze me how many people in our area of Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati area still feel that puppy classes are really not that important. I am not saying everybody, but still a larger portion of the population than I would have hoped. I have heard things from the general public that simply are not true.
My two top favorites are “Puppies cannot be trained, they cannot learn” and my all-time favorite-”Oh- they will grow out of it”. Well neither of these are true. Puppies can learn very well- both good or bad behavior, wanted or unwanted and they do not grow out of these behaviors they grow into them! Old habits are hard to break. Give a puppy enough time to practice something you don’t want and they will have what trainers call a committed behavior. I personally would want a new puppy of mine to practice what I want them to do and not what I don’t wish for them to do ever in their lifetime.
With all this said, whether it is your first puppy or your fifteenth puppy in your lifetime, puppy class is VERY important. Puppies need to see most everything they will be exposed to by the first 13 weeks of life as this is the most impressionable time to them and the easiest time for acceptance to new situations, inanimate objects, other animals, and people of all ages and walks of life.
Ask these questions when searching for the right puppy class. We have way too many undersocialized dogs in the Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Greater Cincinnati area and it needs to change. The population of dogs that are in rescues and shelters in our region simply because puppy or dog training was not on the agenda at the time of adoption.
My advice is to not choose a group training puppy class or puppy kindergarten by price, but by the following factors:
1) When do I start interviewing potential dog training schools for my puppy’s class?
2) How much does the training class focus on socialization, and how much on long term
basic dog obedience material?
3) How many puppies are in the puppy class?
4) How much personal attention do you receive in a shared class?
5) Is the facility/classroom a quiet and controlled environment or noisy and chaotic?
As to number 1: I would do so before you get your puppy. Once that little bundle of joy is in the home you will be very busy! On the west coast most people sign their puppy up for puppy class or get their name on a wait list before they get their puppy.
As to number 2: I would search personally for a class that focuses on socialization/basic obedience training at either a 50/50 split respectively or at least a 40/60 split respectively. Basic obedience can be taught at any time but you have a finite window to socialize your puppy. No matter what the age of your puppy or dog, if they become fearful or scared, you need to understand how to recognize it and how to handle the situation properly so there is no permanent emotional trauma. Learn to keep your puppy happy and healthy both physically and mentally all the way through their adult dog years! Having a dog sit, down, come, walk nicely on a leash, and stay is great but if they are under-socialized and bite every new person they see due to fear, would that be acceptable to you?
As to number 3: Puppies are a lot of work and you need all the help in a group training class you can get where you have shared class time. I feel that the smaller the better. Choose a puppy class or puppy kindergarten that has 6 or fewer puppies. It is the policy of my facility to keep classes small for a better learning environment and more personal attention, just like the private schools I attended. The puppy class might cost more but it is worth it!
As to number 4: In my lifetime, I have attended many dog training classes with my own dogs. I think my biggest pet peeve was that because the classes I had attended had 12-20 dogs enrolled with 1 instructor, there was no way for any type of personal attention or time to ask a question. I feel just like my parents did when they sent me to private school. My parents paid money for my education, and they expected something in return. Ma and Pa kept in contact with my teachers, supervised my lessons and homework and it was my responsibility to do the work and theirs to ensure I did it and understood it. If I pay for a group training class I expect to have the guidance with the curriculum set forth to myself and my dog. When I attended group classes in the past, I never expected any guidance for something outside of class material, I knew that was totally different material outside of the pre-planned curriculum.
As to number 5: I would choose a facility with a quiet controlled environment not with a huge amount of distractions around. Distractions are a reality of life when living with dogs and one of the hardest things in dog training to overcome, however it is best to start out in a puppy class with little to no distractions and build your way up. If I were put in the middle of a toy store with candy when I was in the first grade and I had people passing me all the time, I know I couldn’t focus or learn and retain anything! Too many people expect their 10 week old puppy to be a perfectly trained Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin after a 6 week course. Be realistic with your expectations and set you and your puppy or dog up for success and not to fail. At NBK9 the previous sentence is our mantra. Help reduce your dog’s anxiety and your own stress by living this lifestyle.
I will conclude by saying there are many dog training facilities or business in the Northern
Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Greater Cincinnati region. It is up to you to choose what you are
comfortable with. Puppy class with a large socialization component is important to avoid
wallflower fear or fear aggression as adult dogs. Wallflower fear is tolerable to the humans that own the dogs, thus we have very little calls about this behavioral issue, but I am sure it is a living hell for the dogs that suffer from it. We receive many calls each day from people with adult dogs with various aggression problems and it seems the common denominator is that a puppy class was not attended and no socialization occurred or a puppy class was attended but basic obedience was the only focus and not socialization.
As a professional dog trainer in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio region, I have given you things to ponder and think over and hopefully some good guidance when you start thinking about a new puppy- most of all: Attend a Puppy Class with Your Puppy that teaches and preaches socialization, you will be glad you did.
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