Socialization — Why Puppy Training Classes Pay Off? Leave a comment

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A research was conducted among 296 puppy owners across North America. Researchers gave them questionnaires when they enrolled in the study and again when their puppies were 20 weeks old. The results showed that nearly one-third of the puppies in the study received only minimal exposure to people and dogs outside the home. The researchers defined “minimal exposure” as interactions with up to five dogs and 10 people in a two-week period. That may seem like a full social calendar, but it’s nowhere near what a puppy needs for proper socialization. The researchers warn that a lack of socialization opportunities can lead to behavior problems down the road.

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It is recommended that your puppy meet at least 100 different people in his first month at home. That should include individuals of different heights, ages, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as people with glasses, canes, hats, umbrellas, in wheelchairs, etc. One of the easiest ways to contribute to this necessary level of socialization is to attend puppy classes.

Almost half of the puppies in the present study attended puppy classes, and those dogs were exposed to more canine friends and people, including children, than the sheltered puppies that received only minimal exposure. Class participants were also more likely to expose their puppies to new situations involving loud noises, large trucks, and people at the front door.

As a result, those puppies that attended classes were less likely to show nervousness or have symptoms of separation anxiety. For example, they had fewer fear responses to things such as their crate or a vacuum cleaner.

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There wasn’t just a difference between the pups. Owners who attended puppy class treated their dogs differently than those who did not attend a class. Attendees were more likely to reward their canine companion’s good behavior. They didn’t use verbal corrections as often and were far less likely to punish their dogs — redirecting negative behaviors instead. (For example, if a puppy is chewing on the furniture, they might redirect his attention to a chew toy.)

This has important implications. Dogs that are trained using positive methods, such as those used by the puppy class attendees, learn to enjoy training and develop an eagerness to please. Positive methods also foster trust and communication between owner and puppy, leading to a stronger bond. In keeping with other studies, the current research found that the owners who used punishment reported more fearful behavior in their pups. So, not only did the class-attending puppies gain valuable confidence, their owners learned training techniques that further prevented fear and anxiety in their dogs.

This research showed that puppy classes are an effective and essential component of socialization. So, choose your puppy class. Look for a dog training with the maximum value — trainer supervised, in house training and if you are also the part of training. Talk to the instructor before enrolling, and ask if you can be the part of sessions.

Don’t ignore the power of proper socialization and dog training. Make sure that your new puppy has as many positive experiences as possible to build his confidence and develop his character. Even if you’ve trained dogs before, don’t skip classes for your new puppy. Your dog will learn more than basic obedience behavior — he will learn to feel comfortable out in the world!

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