What makes a good Puppy Preschool?
The Mindful Dog Episode 45
It’s a funny thing isn’t it?
Prospective furparents generally have the best of intentions. Most people are aware of the fact that a puppy needs a bed, water and food. Lots of people appreciate that a dog is a social animal and so does need company. Unfortunately still lots of people think that getting a dog and leaving it in your garden all day and all night on its own is okay and not akin to solitary confinement in a prison at all – but that’s a blog for another day….
The bottom line is that everyone tends to get the very basics right about a puppy’s basic needs. But the rest – because you don’t know what you don’t know, unless you start putting yourself in situations where you can get guidance from those who have worked with and educated puppies successfully themselves – how on earth are you supposed to learn and find out all these things?
“No man is an island” is a quote of John Donne which is meant to teach us that as humans we rely on our community to survive and to be successful – a huge part of this is our recognition that we all have different skills and that we may need to call on some or all of those skills at different times of our lives. We cannot know everything that we need to be successful as individuals, but as a sharing community – we are amazing! We rely on a national education system and professionally trained teachers to guide and educate our own youngsters – so how on earth can we expect to know how to train and educate a different species instinctively, on our own, when most of us acknowledge that we rely on our community to rear our own species?
Every puppy should get the best opportunity…
Every puppy should get the opportunity to attend a quality puppy preschool as an absolute minimum. For me, a puppy preschool is:
- a safe and guided environment where the puppy and handler are given the opportunity to learn how to handle and positively train the puppy through the first eight months of its life.
- where the puppy is guided and supervised on how to play with other puppies,
- where a puppy learns how to interpret signals from other breeds and so learns how to communicate, what good manners are while interacting with another breed puppy.
- Where the handler learns how to train a puppy in good manners in a positive and force free manner
- Where desensitisation to the human world around them through positive associations and emotional balancing exercises is the core focus.
Key things to avoid in a Preschool…
A puppy preschool is NOT a place where puppies just get left off lead as a “free for all” where they get to learn bad habits and get hurt.
A puppy preschool is NOT a place where handlers are taught to use force to scare and intimidate their puppies into behaviours so that the puppies spend their whole lives stressed and living in fear.
A puppy preschool is NOT a place where trainers do not accept that there is always more to learn and are not being active in developing their knowledge of canine behaviour so that they can keep getting better and better.
A puppy preschool is NOT a place where puppies are trained in formal obedience skills. This is like trying to teach a baby or toddler to use a knife and fork. They just do not have the mental development to learn in this formal way yet.
It is the most rewarding thing to see a puppy and handler develop their relationship and understanding of each other as they learn these key foundation skills in each lesson of our puppy preschool and practise them between lessons.
Victoria Road, Hamilton, NZ
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